(Note: I can't vouch for the theology of all the sources I'm about to cite. I don't know the doctrinal beliefs of the writers, but I do agree with their commentary on the particular passage I'm studying today.)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.6
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
This is Proverbs 3:5-6 in the English Standard Version.
Just looking at the verses themselves, what do they mean?
-God is fully trustworthy. I can confidently put my trust in him.
-I am not trustworthy and should not rely on my own wisdom and understanding.
-In everything I do I should look to God.
-When I give my life to him he will show me the right way to go.
The commentary in my NIV Concordia Self-Study Bible reads,
"Commit your way to the Lord, like Israel's forefathers, who trusted in God and were rescued...Be ever mindful of God and serve him with a willing and faithful heart...He will remove the obstacles from your pathway and bring you to your appointed goal." *
I quite like this expansion on the text from the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary:
"We must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, believing he is able and wise to do what is best. Those who know themselves, find their own understandings a broken reed, which, if they lean upon, will fail. Do not design any thing but what is lawful, and beg God to direct thee in every case, though it may seem quite plain. In all our ways that prove pleasant, in which we gain our point, we must acknowledge God with thankfulness. In all our ways that prove uncomfortable, and that are hedged up with thorns, we must acknowledge him with submission. It is promised, He shall direct thy paths; so that thy way shall be safe and good, and happy at last. " (Source)
I love how this passage makes clear our own weakness and inability to do life well on our own. From experience I have found that when I rely on my own wisdom for decision-making, things usually don't turn out very well. It's only when I seek to make God's will for me my will, that life goes smoothly. We should not attempt to bend His will to ours. Rather, when our decisions aren't working the way we want them to, it's a sign that we should bend our will to His.
This note from the Reformation Study Bible sums that idea up well:
"The Lord will guide you to the final goal of life. God gives wisdom and with it the task of making wise decisions; these are the two aspects of guidance in wisdom teaching. There is no hint of guidance that bypasses the duty of making decisions. But human decisions do not overrule the protection of God’s providence (Gen. 50:20, 21; Ps. 103:14)." (Source)
God doesn't lay our life out in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step instruction sheet. We have been blessed with free will, and therefore we have the abilities to make our own decisions, whether for good or ill. But when we put our trust in God and seekHis will, then we will be able to discern the paths he has laid out for us.
When we are in communion with God by being in prayer and in the Word, he makes his desires known to us. That doesn't mean we'll find the literal answer to our every question in the Bible. But the Bible does contain guidelines for our life: Love God, love those around us, obey God, trust Him, have faith in Jesus Christ. When we are putting those things first, the rest will fall into place.
I think the greatest comfort I take from this passage is knowing that God is active in my life, leading me to live as He wants me to. Because the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, we are constantly able to be obedient to God and His will. He takes interest in our lives because of Jesus--because of what Jesus has done for us, we are children of God, and as a parent cares about every detail of their child's life, so God cares intimately for us. Therefore, we can trust him, and put our lives securely in his hands.
How has God taught you to trust Him? What is one way you can give your life over to Him today? How do you take comfort from this passage, knowing that God loves you and is active in your life?
*Concordia Self-Study Bible, NIV, Robert G. Hoerber, ed., emphasis added, p 950