Get Wisdom. Get Understanding. And don’t be wise in your own eyes. That’s the gist of Proverbs 3.
The first time I read it, it seemed pretty straight forward. But, I also figured that I was a fairly intelligent person who didn’t make stupid choices. Then recently, (since God has a sense of humor) I found myself knocked down a peg. Please, feel free to laugh.
Not so long ago, we ran out of dishwasher detergent in my apartment. Of course, considering there are nine of us living together, this is a tragedy. Our little dish drainer is much too small to handle the ridiculous amounts of dishes we go through on a daily basis. Now personally, I have this bad habit of stepping in and doing things for everyone. I think it's because I'm trying to be nice... Or I'm just OCD about a clean kitchen and have trouble asking for help - you be the judge.
So, with a sink full of dishes and an urgent need to do something about them, I decided to load the dishwasher. But then, once it was full, I really, really wanted to run it and just get the dishes out of the way.
What would you do? I came up with an idea.
Not wanting to be a total pioneer, I reached for the bottle of Dawn and read the label. Naturally, it said, "Do not use in an electric washer."
Still, with so many dishes to take care of, I thought, "What could possibly go wrong?" I reasoned that they likely put that on the bottle in the case that something DID happen, though unlikely. I couldn't think of anything mechanically that it might break. So really... what could happen?
This reasoned out, I poured about a tablespoon into the detergent dispenser, started the machine, and sat down to watch TV.
Ten minutes passed, and the dishwasher started groaning.
I brushed it off as nothing; our dishwasher is always noisy.
Twenty minutes passed, and I realized these groans were a bit different. So, I got up and went to check the machine. What I saw was horrifying:
In a large mass along the bottom of the washer was a pile of suds and water, slowing growing in size. My brain essentially quit for a moment as I watched before my wits returned.
Of course, I turned off the cycle, mopped up the mess and set the machine to rinse. But never in a million years did I expect such a mess, and I couldn't believe that I thought I knew better than the bottle. OF COURSE the warning label was there for a reason. Why wouldn't Dawn check their product so stupid people like me would hopefully trust the label and not make a sudsy mess like I did.
Why did I think I knew better?
You can laugh now. Either because you've done it too, or because now you know not to.
But really, it seems funny, but sometimes I’m guilty of believing certain pieces of scripture aren’t relevant to me and who I am. My mom once said that they Bible never gets old – you can read it again and again – there will always be something new to learn. The older I get, the more I know it to be true.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Don’t I know it now.
Still, that verse came to mind only after the fact. When it happened, I thought first of Proverbs 3:7 which says, “Don’t be wise your own eyes.” It’s a verse I’m sure your grandmother or your mother quoted on end. But whether you know it or not, I’m almost certain your know the verse that comes before, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 ESV).
Perhaps trusting God has been the overarching lesson of my college years. More and more, I’m coming to find that I don’t always like God’s plans – they aren’t my plans. And he has this interesting habit of not always revealing his plans.
Like any normal human, I don’t easily trust what I can’t see.
But if God is good – he can’t be anything but – then why don’t I trust him? Why don’t I follow him?
It’s Romans 12:1-2 in essence. We’re supposed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices – an act of worship. Ignore what the world says and listen to God. Then, we’ll begin to understand his good, pleasing and perfect will. But more often than not, we choose not to trust God, so we don’t submit to him. We listen to what the world says, and end up anxious and afraid… and then, all that’s left is confusion, because our plans are failing.
In his heart, a man makes his plans, but God directs his steps (Prov. 16:9).
If only we could just get over our stubborn pride and realize that God was right all along. Even when we buck and squirm because where his plans seem to be taking us is uncomfortable.
But it's only when we are beyond ourselves and our comfort - out of control - that we truly depend on God.
He's the giver of good gifts, even when we feel stretched thin and spiraling.
He's given us the body - there are other believers who've gone before us, who God carried through, to advise us. And of course we have the scriptures, because, "whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4 ESV).
Sometimes we just have to let go and let God.
He's far more competent than we are anyway.
It's simply a matter of trust. Don't be wise in your own eyes - we were never meant to go it alone. And if I may quote Veggie Tales... "God's way is the best way."