As a farmer’s wife, one of my favorite springtime activities is witnessing when a new crop sprouts through worked and ready soil. Year after year, it doesn’t get old.
“Do you see anything?” the kids ask while scanning fields on every drive into town. “No, not yet but it should be any time.” Then one day, it’s there—the tiniest sprouts of green peeking over soft dirt, marching in magnificently straight lines like an agricultural army ready to invade.
Even though we use technology to plant each seed in just the right spot, those straight rows never cease to amaze me. At just the right angle, perfect lines of three-inch-tall corn look like they go on forever, and I can’t help but stop and stare. If only life could be that straight and tidy, right? If only circumstances lined up that flawlessly and sought-after paths looked that defined . . . if only nothing popped up out of place.
But you and I both know life only works that way on the Dick Van Dyke Show, where housewives wear high heels with their pajamas. Real life looks a lot more disheveled, like someone threw a bunch of random seeds (a mix of fear and frustration) wherever they wanted, and we’re trapped in the middle with no idea how to fix the chaos.
Perhaps this is why many of us gravitate toward the promise of Proverbs 3:5–6, hanging it in bold print over fireplaces, on bathroom mirrors, and on cute plaques next to kitchen sinks:
“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 straight your paths.”
Yes, Father, please straighten out this crazy path.
God’s Promise Remains in the Chaos
There’s no doubt in my mind that God knows how to make a crooked path straight. He’s the master at bringing order out of chaos—the creation account in Genesis 1 is proof of that. He knows how to correct our wrongs. The wildest, craziest, most crooked messes become tree-lined corridors of righteousness in the hands of our sovereign God.
He trades in arguments for resolutions. He turns graves into gardens. He replaces cold ashes with ornate headdresses, breathes life into death, and remakes ruins into cherished treasures. And, in His presence, vast wastelands become glorious sanctuaries once again. There’s no situation too hard for God.
No matter how thorny or overgrown your current path, God’s promise remains. He can make it right if we trust Him to do so. Though God may not straighten the path the way we would, though God may not straighten the course in our preferred timing and may even send us in a completely different direction than originally thought, He will straighten the path.
How do I know? I’ve experienced it. I’ve watched God do it for others, and I’m counting on Him to do it again. When I confess my sin, no matter how far away from God I’ve wandered, His forgiveness is quick to make it right. When I’m anxious and afraid, His peace is there to make it right. When I have nothing left to give, His strength is there to make it right.
God is committed to righting our wrongs, remaking shattered dreams, and breathing fresh perspective into broken hearts.
God’s Promise Resides in the Scriptures
David knew the power of God’s straightening as well and testified about it in many of the Psalms. Here are a few examples:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” —Psalm 23:1–3
“My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.” —Psalm 25:15
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” —Psalm 30:11
“For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’ sake you lead and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me; for you are my refuge.” —Psalm 31:3-4
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” —Psalm 34:4
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” —Psalm 40:1–3
Do you see the straightening? God plucks our feet from the net and delivers us from fear. He sets our feet on solid ground, restores our souls, and fills us with songs of praise even when we have none to sing. God did it for David, and He does it for us.
God’s Promise Starts with Trust
However, Proverbs 3:5–6 is not an unconditional promise. We don’t get to live however we want while God rearranges the universe on our behalf. Three things proceed the gift of a straight path: trust, humility, and submission.
If we willingly trust and submit ourselves to the Lord, God promises a mighty straightening. It may not be easy, but God didn’t promise easy—He promised a holy reshaping that leads us in the right direction. His direction that may not match our preconceived ideas of living our best life, but it will draw us closer to God.
The promise of Proverbs 3:5–6 does not mean if we trust God that He’ll blow the doors open toward that goal we’ve been desperately chasing. It means He’ll draw us back to what’s right and true and good and holy; namely, God will bring us back to Himself. Our hearts long for many things, but there’s nothing better for us than God.
David declared in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life,” and the path of life is Jesus Christ. Here’s the bottom line: straight roads lead to God while crooked roads draw us away. God may call you to walk a difficult road, but rest assured whatever road God calls us to will ultimately lead to Christ.
God’s Promise Is Yours to Claim
So if your little parcel of the world is a weedy mess, if your dreams lie in ruins, if you can’t see straight, if you aren’t sure which way to go—trust, surrender, and submit because God’s a master architect, and He’s promised to make your path straight.
Keep in mind, ups and downs are an inevitable part of every landscape, so even straight paths can vary in elevation. Roads run through valleys, too. But with God, they also run through oceans, deserts, and forests. Psalm 77:19 says, “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”
But even then, God assures us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isa. 43:2).
God made no promise as to the geography or the conditions of our path. He simply promised to straighten the road while we trust Him on the journey. So go ahead and take that first shaky but surrendered step. You might fall, but He’ll pick you up. You might feel weak, but God will make you strong. His footprints may go unseen, but rest assured Christ is there, and God’s promise is for you.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,” and our gracious God promises to make the crooked path straight.