“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” [Proverbs 3. 5-6]
Many people have this verse as their favourite Bible promise. But, I wonder, what does it really mean to trust God with all our heart?
My painting this month, (John Phillip – “La Loteria Nacional: Buying the Tickets” (1866) McManus Art Gallery, Dundee) I think might be slightly satirical. Who here displays the greatest faith or trust? Is it the Catholic Priest, who is tucking away inside his Bible or prayer book the National Lottery tickets he has just bought? Or is it the little girl who secretly kisses the hem of the priest’s cassock behind him?
Perhaps the artist is having a little laugh at the priest for not trusting in God to supply all his needs. Is this an example of Christian Hypocrisy? Is it hypocritical of him to put his trust in the Lottery numbers rather than in God’s provision? Actually… as a Methodist I really do see great potential harm in gambling and do not recommend it to anyone! But I don’t think this priest is really doing much harm here, is he?
And, in the end, this isn’t really what I think those words from Proverbs are actually all about. “Trust in the Lord… Lean not on your own understanding.” Jesus asks us to do some pretty breath-taking and counter-intuitive things. For instance, he says, If someone hits you on one cheek, let them have the other one, too. If a soldier forces you to carry his load for a mile, take it two miles. Go on… Go the extra mile. If someone wants the shirt off your back, give them your coat as well. If someone borrows money from you, don’t expect it back… We hear all of this and want to say, “Really, Jesus? You aren’t serious, are you?” None of this makes sense to our own understanding.
However, as crazy and absurd as these words of Jesus sound, they are our instructions on how to live in, and to build up, the Kingdom. Let us take him at his word. Trust him… As the old hymn used to say, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…”
It would be hypocritical not to!