But there is a condition
(J.R. Miller, "In All Your Ways!")
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
We all need direction in our life paths.
We turn to our friends for counsel, but human wisdom is inadequate. It is short-sighted and cannot certainly know what is best. It is ignorant and may mislead unwittingly. Wrong advice, though meant for good, has wrecked many a life destiny! Human guidance is not enough; we need something truer, wiser, safer—something infallible; and that is just what we have assured to us in this promise of divine direction.
But there is a condition—we must acknowledge the Lord in all our ways. The "all" is emphatic. Most of us acknowledge the Lord in some of our ways. We turn to Him in the time of great trials, or in great and sore dangers. Even scoffers and atheists have been known, in the moment of peril, as in a storm at sea—to fall upon their knees and call upon God for help. The worst people, when alarming sickness is on them, or when death stares them in the face, want to take hold of the hand of God. There are none of us who do not at certain times crave divine direction and help.
But the promise reads, "In all your ways"—that is the condition of the promised direction.
We are very willing to acknowledge God while He directs us in the paths in which we are inclined to go—paths that are pleasant and agreeable to us. We can easily submit to the sweet will of God, when it is indeed sweet to our natural taste. But how is it when God directs us to go the way we do not want to go—to do the thing that is unpleasant, and will cause pain, or require sacrifice or loss?
How is it when the voice of God, answering to our request . . .
bids us to take the path which leads to a cross;
bids us to turn away from the pleasant thing that we crave;
bids us to give up the dear friendship, which is drawing us away from Him;
bids us give into His hand, the child or loved one we so desire to keep with us?
"In all your ways" means the hard ways—as well as the easy ways; the thorny path—as wall as the path of flowers. Yet we are continually coming to points at which we hesitate. We say: "In all but this, dear Lord—I can take Your way and do Your will." Still the answer comes, "In all My ways, My child."
There must be no reserve, no withholding, no exception.
The beloved sin must be given up—though it seems only a little one, though giving it up is like cutting off a right hand or plucking out a right eye.
The hard path must be taken—though it leads among thorns that pierce the feet, over the sharp stones, and through fire and flood.
The painful duty must be done—though it costs us popularity, ease, or position; though it leads to poverty, suffering, or homelessness.
The bitter grief must be accepted—though it seems to take all, and leave nothing.
It must be accepted sweetly, lovingly, cheerfully, with unquestioning surrender.
The lesson is plain. Nothing must be withheld from God—whether it be in obedience, or in submission.
The darling sin must be given up.
The rough path must be walked over.
That hard duty must be accepted.
We must acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, if we would have Him direct our paths.