"Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Trust. Lean not. Acknowledge. He shall direct. There are few more prevalent promises in Scripture than the assurance that the Lord will lead His trusting children to know His will. According to Solomon, however, such direction does not simply happen. We must respond to our Lord's promise by a proactive faith that believes the guidance of the Holy Spirit is to be expected and enjoyed throughout our lifetime.
Trust in the Lord. Our confidence must be in God, and in His willingness and ability to lead us. We cannot visibly see or audibly hear Him, but the truth of the matter is that He is nearer to us than any other person. God alone is with us always, and He is not merely sitting on the throne of our hearts. "I will... walk in them" declares the Lord of His trusting children (II Corinthians 6:16). As we determine to walk with Him in response, we must believe that "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). Our response to the guidance of the Holy Spirit therefore begins with the faith that He can and will in fact guide us.
"Lean not unto thine own understanding." Certainly we use our understanding. But we do not lean on it. The discussion often becomes quite human-centered when the question is raised among believers, "How can we know the will of God?" We focus on our response more than on God's ability to lead. Left to ourselves, this would be a sadly appropriate way of viewing the matter. However, the essence of Biblical revelation proclaims that God has not left us to ourselves. He has rather taken upon Himself the responsibility of enabling us to "do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13). This includes our capacity for knowing His will, which begins with the determination to trust our Lord rather than ourselves. "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool... We have no confidence in the flesh" (Proverbs 28:26; Philippians 3:3).
"In all thy ways acknowledge Him." If honest, we must all confess that this mandate would seem to doom our experience of God's directing our paths. Who among us would affirm that we see and respond to God in all our ways? Only of the Lord Jesus Christ can be said - "The Father hath not left Me alone for I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29). Our Savior was perfectly led during His earthly lifetime because He perfectly trusted, leaned not, and acknowledged. This will not be the case with us, but consistent growth in faith and response is possible and should be expected. Indeed, the One who achieved perfection now lives in us by His Spirit. Such realization should encourage our hearts and fill us with expectation of growth in the acknowledgement of God in all our ways. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:2).
Our Lord is a faithful Shepherd who desires to lead faithful sheep. He has given "so great salvation" to make such direction not only possible, but to be expected (Hebrews 2:3). Let us anticipate such leadership, as well as the working of the Holy Spirit in us to fulfill our role of trusting, leaning not and acknowledging.
"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering."