“And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)
Up until now our verses have dealt with our call and responsibility to trust God. Now, from the last line of this famous passage, there is a promise that “He will make your paths straight.” God is a God of order, not disorder. He has set everything where it should be. Everything has a time and place. He organized the entire cosmos. God is a God of clarity, not confusion. He has plainly laid out the Gospel and revealed Himself in His Word and creation (Romans 1:20). Those who miss Him do not miss Him because He is not clearly revealed, but because they do not clearly see. Being a God of order and clarity, God will not set a path before His people that is too confusing to follow. He will make it clear and straight. So what does it mean that God will make your paths straight? I will give four things I have taken from this promise and what it means for you and me.
1. A Straight Path Is A Sure Path
If you haven’t already noticed, when I’m reading the Scriptures I really like to break things apart. I can’t help it. This is the reason why I struggle with the “read the Bible in a year” programs. It is not because I have a hard time reading the Bible. It is because I have a hard time reading enough of it in one sitting to make it through in a year. I have this urge to stop and analyze every word and phrase. To be honest, I wouldn’t change that for the world. The Bible says man lives on EVERY word that comes from the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matt. 4:4). I hunger to know EVERY word and I hope that all of you will catch that same hunger with me. Though not every translation uses this same exact wording, I believe the idea is the same. There is a combination of words here that stood out to me: “He will make your paths straight.” When thinking through these words I couldn’t help getting the image of a wanderer who does not know where he is going. He is neither here nor there. He is following many paths based on whatever seems right and enjoyable to him at the time. He places his trust in the Lord and begins walking in faith. Then God works in his life and gives him one clear path, direction, and purpose.
A straight path is a sure path because those who trust wholly in the Lord will always know what is being asked of them. We don’t know what all lays ahead on the path, but we know what path we are on. We have identity, purpose, and direction. No longer are we wandering through life, but we are following a clear path.
2. A Straight Path Is Not Always An Easy Path
Some people will make misleading claims from this Scripture. One is to say that God will reward you with an easy and unchallenged life. We know that is not true from the very testimony of Scripture. Paul trusted in the Lord, yet no one can deny he had a very hard and challenging road. James tells believers, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when (not if) you encounter various trials (James 1:2, parenthesis mine).” Hardship in life is a given. Hardship in life as a follower of Jesus Christ is a promise (John 15:20). “Straight” and “easy” are not the same. God has given me a very straight path, but easy is not a word I would ever think of to describe it. Sometimes the path is downright agonizing. Sometimes the path leaves us wondering if we can even go another step. The promise is not an easy path, but a clear path.
3. A Straight Path Means God Is In Control
This one might be harder to swallow than the fact of suffering. Because, if you’re like me, it’s a lot easier to accept your suffering if you chose it than if it was chosen for you. The verse says God will make your paths straight. That means God is the one moving the path, not you. That means that during your journey of walking in trust and obedience, when you cross through suffering, in the wonderfully complex thing we call the sovereignty of God, it is His plan that you are there. This hits home for me. Yesterday was one of the hardest days my wife and I have ever experienced. Our adopted son experienced one of his all day rage episodes, the worst one he has had. Raising children is hard enough. When one of those children had almost every drug imaginable in his system while he was in the womb, it is indescribably overwhelming. How do we deal with that? And how is it suppose to encourage us that this is actually God’s will? It should encourage because it is God’s will. The times of suffering and joy that we pass through in this life are not just random, meaningless products of chance. All the pain we walk through. All the happiness we experience. It is all a part of God’s mysterious plan. That means it is all heading somewhere. I don’t know all the answers or all the reasons why, but I know the same God who has planned for my family to walk through these trying times also has planned the end of my life’s story, and somehow all of the joy and pain I go through in this life is taking me there (2 Corinthians 4:16). That leads me to the last thing.
4. A Straight Path Has A Clear Destination
“we have no fixed residence but in heaven. Whenever, therefore, we are driven from place to place, or whenever any change happens to us, let us think of what the Apostle teaches us here, that we have no certain abode on earth, for heaven is our inheritance; and when more and more tried, let us ever prepare ourselves for our last end; for they who enjoy a very quiet life commonly imagine that they have a rest in this world: it is hence profitable for us, who are prone to this kind of sloth, to be often tossed here and there, that we who are too much inclined to look on things below, may learn to turn our eyes up to heaven.”
– John Calvin (on Hebrews 13:14)
If there is one thing that I can say my experience with my son has done, beyond the shadow of a doubt, it is that I think often about heaven, about my true home, and with a kind of longing that I cannot explain to you. I cannot imagine the kind of hopelessness I would feel if all the situations in my life are to just end with me dying and ceasing to be. Or if it was all to end with me dying and being separated from God, the source of all hope and joy. But I know how this thing ends. I don’t know what all is going to happen on the way there, but I know where it ends. I know there is coming a day, already set in heaven, when I will depart this broken reality, when my work here is through, and I will finally be home in the presence of my God, living peacefully in the midst of His eternal glory. That is the end game. So because I have a sure path that God is in control of, even though it is not always easy, I have concrete assurance of where it all leads no matter what I walk through on the way there. And this is exactly why I can take each step along the path. This promise is given to all of us if we would simply place our faith and trust in Jesus. So, in conclusion to this series, I would like to urge you to:
“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 make your paths straight.”