The 20 Verses You Love Most: #2 Path Finder

The 20 Verses You Love Most | Liz Curtis Higgs

Bet you know this one by heart. Learned it as a child. Can still recite it today. Let’s look at it with fresh eyes and see what new truths we might find in this old chestnut.

After naming our #2 verse her favorite, Wanda shared a bit of her journey. “Ten years ago, when my husband passed away suddenly, my cousin sent a card with Proverbs 3:5-6 written inside. I grasped that passage as a drowning woman grasps a life preserver. God has provided for me, guided me, and loved me through the journey. I still cherish that card, but even more I cherish those sweet words that are now written on my heart.”

For Wanda—for all of us—here are those beloved verses, with a dozen grass-lined paths I’ve discovered here and there.

"He will make your paths straight"

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

"He will make your paths straight"

Trust in the Lord… Proverbs 3:5

Trust. It’s the first thing a child learns. Mother stepped out of the room, but Mother will come back.

Slowly, slowly fears are replaced with trust. Cold air, loud sounds, dark corners lose their power to make us cry, though maybe not until we’re a little older. Like ten. Or twenty.

So it is with our relationship with the Lord. We begin by learning to “lean on, trust in, and be confident” (AMP) in him. Yet, in order to “place your trust” (VOICE) in God, you must lift something off your shoulders first—the need for control, the need to have all the answers—and deposit those things into his loving hands.

Then you must let go.

"He will make your paths straight"

…with all your heart… Proverbs 3:5

The Hebrew word, kol, means “all.” Not some, not most. All. Holding back nothing, making no demands, you release your need to be in charge “completely” (ERV), and do so “from the bottom of your heart” (MSG), which is to say the whole of it. If you start at the bottom, the rest of your heart will come too.

Since we must leave our hearts safely beating in our chests, what does God really want from us? He wants our inner person, our mind, our will—leb, in Hebrew.

He knows very well what we have hidden inside, “for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

He also understands what it will cost us to trust him. The sacrifice of self. The putting aside of pride. The laying down of arms. No more fighting him. No more insisting on our own way, as if we know best. As if.

"He will make your paths straight"

…and lean not… Proverbs 3:5

I don’t mind having something to lean on now and again. A rail when I climb steps. The back of a chair when I have to pull on a shoe.

But this lean not isn’t asking us to avoid a physical thing. It means “don’t depend” (ERV) and “do not rely” (AMP) on that which is not dependable and unreliable.

The Hebrew word, shaan, means “to lean, to support oneself.” When you think about it, the idea of leaning on or supporting yourself is crazy! Where would you put your hand? Where would you rest your weight?

The Lord knows we can’t manage that balancing act spiritually either. Depend or rely on ourselves? Without God? We’re simply not built to do that.

"He will make your paths straight"

…on your own understanding;… Proverbs 3:5

I chose this photo because that’s where our thinking will invariably lead us. Downward rather than upward. Into a darker realm rather than toward the light.

Whether you call it “insight” (AMP) or “intelligence” (CEB) or “judgment” (CEV), ours is not to be fully trusted. “What you think you know” (GNT) won’t carry you through life.

The Lord isn’t chastising us—after all, he formed our gray matter, he shaped our intellect—but he is cautioning us, “never depend upon your own ideas and inventions” (VOICE) and whatever you do, “don’t try to figure out everything on your own” (MSG).

Can we honor this wise proverb? Can we let go and let God? Valerie, who also chose this passage as her favorite, shares what she’s learned. “Watching parents die of cancer, having children with serious medical concerns, and facing the loss of my job for the second time, I set my heart on how I ‘think’ things are supposed to be, only to be disappointed. But with my heart set on the Lord—his words, his life, his promises—I have confidence that he is in control of every situation.”

He is, dear sister. Most assuredly, he is in control.

"He will make your paths straight"

…in all your ways… Proverbs 3:6

There’s that word again. All. Hugely inclusive. Nothing left out. “Everywhere you go” (MSG) and “in everything you do” (GNT) pretty much covers it, with “always” (CEV) summing things up.

I especially like this translation—“with every step you take” (ERV)—since we’re walking along a path of God’s choosing, knowing it’s the best path for us, the right path for us.

The word derek in Hebrew means “way, road, distance, journey.” Again, we’re on a literal path, though we don’t need MapQuest to guide our steps.

We need to do just one thing.

"He will make your paths straight"

…submit to him,… Proverbs 3:6

Humph. My former feminist self rises up at the very sound of the word submit. Do we have to? Especially when the Hebrew word used here, yada, simply means “to know”?

Oh, but it’s a deep knowing. An intimate kind of knowledge.

We are to know more about the Lord than we know about ourselves. To “listen for God’s voice” (MSG) and “think about what he wants” (ERV). We’re to “remember” (GNT) and “acknowledge” (ASV) and “recognize” (AMP) him, learning as much as we can about his character, his attributes, his nature.

Submitting to God means praising him at every turn, and giving him “credit for everything you accomplish” (VOICE).

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). By revelation, Jeremiah understood. By the power of the Holy Spirit, so can we.

This is God’s path, and we are his people. That’s what he is waiting for us to grasp.

"He will make your paths straight"

…and he will… Proverbs 3:6

No maybe here. A promise. A guarantee. “He’s the one” (MSG)

The truth is, God is in control whether we allow him to be or not. We do not make him Lord. He is Lord. The moment we accept that truth, the very second we bend our hearts and knees to his power and might, we discover that our loving God is already blessing us, already taking us by the hand, already leading us.

"He will make your paths straight"

…make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

When I chose the photos for this post, I realized that a truly straight path is…well…boring. Who wants to see all the way to the end? It’s the unexpected curves, the bends in the road, the surprises along the way, that make life interesting.

Then I discovered the word straight isn’t in the original Hebrew. Instead, God promises he will “direct thy steps” (DRA) and “help you go the right way” (ERV)—which is his way, of course. That’s the only way you want to walk, beloved. Not because you aren’t smart enough to chart your own course, but because you’re smart enough to know his course is the best one for you.

He will “guide you on the right paths” (HCSB) and “keep you on track” (MSG), no matter how many twists and turns you encounter between here and heaven.

With that kind of assurance, no wonder we love these verses, which really are meant to go together. Left foot, right foot, let’s walk.

"He will make your paths straight"

Another proverb reminds us, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). So let’s make a commitment. Let’s do our part, knowing absolutely that God has already done his part.

We will trust in him, rather than trust ourselves, and make it our life’s work to know him fully. And we’ll walk with the confidence of a child who is holding tightly to his father’s hand.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

"He will make your paths straight"

Now it’s your turn

Is it comforting to know the Lord is directing your steps? Or does it make you feel like you’re being dragged somewhere you aren’t sure you want to go? Follow this link to my website blog, then add your thoughts under Post a Comment at the bottom. Your honesty is what’s helping us all grow.

Just one verse left. Can you believe it? I’ll also have a list of all 20 verses for you. Until next time, may you sense God’s leading in a real and tangible way.

Your sister, Liz

Coming up next

Bad Girls of the Bible | Liz Curtis Higgs

Beginning Wednesday, September 4 we’ll spend ten weeks exploring those Bad Girls of the Bible. I’ll follow the book chapter by chapter and answer one of the Study Guide questions each week. Consider grabbing a copy and reading through it with us. If you have a previous edition of Bad Girls, that will work too. The 2013 edition includes new Discussion Questions and an in-depth Study Guide.

And don’t miss this

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Through September 16, pre-order my new book, The Women of Christmas, anywhere you like to shop, including, and Barnes&, and receive a FREE copy from my publisher, mailed to you at no charge. Need lots of copies for gifts or for a Bible study? Pre-order away!

33 Responses to The 20 Verses You Love Most: #2 Path Finder

  1. Kathy T. August 29, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    Wow, what jumped out at me was -“God is in control, whether we allow Him to be or not”. I want Him to be in control of my life, that is my choice! I choose for Him to direct my path. Life just is better, I can say “don’t worry be happy”. Believe me it’s not always easy but a good attitude really helps.

  2. Shauna August 29, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    An all-time favorite, I’ve been wondering if it would show up on the “list”! Thanks so much. I have always felt the Lord guiding me, even though sometimes He needs to give me an extra nudge or set up a barrier to get me going the direction He wants me to go!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 29, 2013 at 9:23 am #

      I’m with you on the barrier, Shauna. I intentionally chose a few paths edged with stone walls or hedgerows or wooden rails, for those of us who need a little extra help staying on track!

  3. Debbie W August 29, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    I have long thought that when I get to Heaven, one of the first of my million questions (if, indeed, we any longer have a need to ask!), will be, “Why was this not the first verse of the whole Bible?”
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding (especially through the rest of this Book!) In all your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your paths. (emphasis mine)
    Maybe it should have been a stand-alone book of the Bible. One verse that sums it all up.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 29, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      I think you’re on to something, Debbie. One verse to rule them all. Ah, but God knows best in these things. “In the beginning God…” is definitely a strong opening line.

      • Debbie W August 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

        Oh, yes, HE DOES! And Oh, Yes, it IS! That has usually been my exact answer to my own question.

  4. Marge August 29, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    This verse is exactly where I am living. It is amazing how in one split second our lives are changed. How we handle the change reveals our faith in God. One day I am fully trusting God, another day little doubts keep forming in my mind and it is at that moment I must say, God you are in control, you are allowing this event not only for my good but for your Glory. Phew, with God all things are possible.
    PS. Love the pictures.

  5. Julie Sunne August 29, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    “The truth is, God is in control whether we allow him to be or not. We do not make him Lord. He is Lord.” Wow, this is a truth that we all need to know, but more than that, one we all need to practice! Spot on, again, Liz! Thanks.

  6. Deborah August 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Love the photos and the reminder of God’s guidance & love in these scriptures

  7. Ellen August 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    It is comforting to be able to turn toward Him to direct my steps. Life is a struggle and keeping in the right direction is hard sometimes. If I could only remember to let Him be in charge, I would have so much less to struggle with.

  8. Martha T. August 29, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    It is very comforting to know that God is in control and will make a way in my life no matter what is happening . Your pictures were very good at illustrating these 2 verses.

  9. Sandra (Sandy) Wall August 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Hi Liz. Hope you have been enjoying the red scarf last winter. It was a joy to make and to know you enjoyed it.
    I have always liked these verses. Seeing them broke down is even better. When you wrote “God is in control whether we allow Him to be or not” struck me. It is nice to know that God works around our (my) stubborn ways. Next, you wrote “He will guide you and keep you on the right track no matter how many twists and turns you encounter between here and heaven” Right now I feel like I am in a very dark forest. But even in this forest there are small beams of light that help guide you. When I find that beam of light, I have to stop and raise my eyes to it and take in the warmth of the light. I get lost in the world of my mind…….the negative, anger, and the loneliness. Take care, Liz.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Yes, appreciate the red scarf, Sandy! :>) And am grateful even more for your honesty here. You are so wise to keep lifting your head and seeking God’s warming light.

  10. Timi August 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful, LIz! i love it so much! & such gorgeous pictures! Thank you so much for sharing this inspiration & these encouraging truths!!

  11. Chris August 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you, Liz. These are the exact verses I needed to read this morning. Truth and hope, encouragement…..absolutely.

  12. Susan August 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    God is in control ! some days I think am I like the Israelites , am I making a track for 40 yrs in wilderness ? – keeping my eyes on Jesus 🙂

  13. Nancy Gerhart August 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Nineteen verses have sustained me all summer. Already started reading the book. Feel excited to read verse ONE. . Thank you Liz for your obedience to HIS voice by sharing and encouraging the reader.

  14. pauline maclean August 30, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    I am trusting in Gods promise that he will direct my path. He is also teaching me how to be patient. I know he has something great in store for me just around the corner. Just far enough that I cant quite see what it is. But I know it’s there. He told me and I just have to trust him and lean in as far as I can. I am in his hands and all I can do is follow him. I cant do anything else anymore the desire is gone. I only desire his will. He is my all in all.

  15. Bonnie Brown August 30, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Ahh! Thank you, Liz. Further confirmation of the path I’m finally making real in my life. I’m a controller and fixer-upper. Like to make things right, which isn’t my responsibility at all. These words “let go and let God” have been a favorite to use with others. Funny, how easy to instruct others and not be able to accept and acknowledge that God has my back. “He’s got this.” Oh, I love Him, I have great faith in Him, but to trust and submit isn’t as easy. But, I may make this my new “life verse” so that I daily repeat this amazing verse.
    Trusting Him with my whole heart always in all ways.

  16. Elizabeth Duncan August 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    One area that this verse has really helped me navigate is parenthood. I worried about the path of my own life before I was a mom, but that was like “Worry Lite” compared to the amount of worrying I do over my 4-year-old and 6-month-old sons. The list of dangers and pitfalls is long at every age and stage, and young as they are, I even find myself worrying about whether or not they will accept Christ! The only thing that gives me peace is knowing that God loves them, He has a plan for them, and that He will guide my steps as their mom. 🙂

    Thanks, Liz, for your blog. I am a long time reader, but I haven’t quite kept up with these posts like I’d like. I’m hoping to follow the next one more closely!

  17. Linda H August 31, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Trust in the Lord…the insight you gave, “Yet in order to “place your trust” in God you must lift something off your shoulders first – need for control, need to have all the answers – and deposit those things in his loving hands. Wow! No wonder my shoulders hurt and I feel so weighted down. This spoke to me regarding my trust issues. I have to remove my control first. Loved the “lean not” part and spiritual balance. When I feel myself start to lose ground I will remember I must grab onto the Lord and this promise! As always thanks Liz!

  18. missy September 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    This has always been a verse that I have held in wonder in my heart.. Love it but one of the most difficult for me. I have discovered over some very difficult circumstances with my son that I have a HUGE trust issue with God. Don’t get me wrong I love Him but as a good sister in Christ pointed out I don’t always trust him. To just let go and Let God is very very difficult for me but I am working on it a little at a time. You have been a tremendous help with this blog. Thank you Liz

  19. CarolAnne September 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Wish I would have heard your line: “He’s in control whether you allow Him to be or not”, when I was a wild child. Would have gotten *that* nonsense over with so much sooner! Also, am so glad you mentioned on FB about the new e-mail problem. Just came straight to your blog for this post. Perhaps #1 will make it into my box : ) xo

  20. Becky Frith September 3, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    Having ben so behind reading these posts, I have been so delighted this morning to find such gems of Scripture to remind me again that I am so protected and guided from above. As you may recall we lost our home to a tornado in May, and have been feeling much like the Israelites must have…wondering, wandering, and unsettled. We are now in the process of moving to TN where we know God will continue to guide our journey. Your words, Liz, again struck me with the imagines of the crooked path that we must take, and with the need to physically lean on something daily! What better than to lean on Jesus! He is there! Hallelujah!

  21. Angela C September 3, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Really needed this reminder when i got it last week. The wind had been knocked out of me and my heart was so heavy because I had just gotten the news that a close friend has fourth stage rectal cancer and the outlook is grim. The thought of losing her, the dark, painful process she must endure and that her husband lost his first wife to cancer was weighing me down. I spent time in the Word, praying and worshiping and some of the weight lifted. But the visual you gave us of “lifting something off your shoulders – the need to control, to have all the answers and deposit those things in His loving hands” was exactly what I needed. I’m believing for a miracle for her and her husband because in every grim situation there is always a BUT GOD. At the same time it’s all in His loving hands and I know He does all things well. I don’t understand the “whys” or “hows” but I know God does so I’m leaning completely on Him. Thank you for sharing. I love the pictures of paths — I take those kind of photos too.

  22. Meghan September 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    Thanks for posting 🙂 I am staying very still in career right now, half believing that I don’t know what I want to do and the other (probably better half) telling me that I just need to take a step and find out for myself. This command is so simple but following it is difficult. What if I get screwed over? What if I make a huge mistake? ….Grace is always a good answer. I am challenged today.

  23. Debbie Berry September 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Thank you for your faithful service to share God’s Word in such a relatable way! I have been so blessed by studying many of your lessons over the past several months. I teach a ladies bible study twice a week and God has led me many times by confirming my lesson with yours! Only God could line up the topics so perfectly! God is amazing! May God continue to use you and bless so many by your wit and candor in writing and explaining Biblical truth.
    Your sister in Christ,

  24. MARY-ELLEN PARADIS January 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    I really like this verse Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.It gives me such security to know I can trust Him to guide me;direct me;& protect me.Because my leaning on my own understanding got me in big mistakes ; wrong choices i’m still regretting 50 years later.

  25. Kyle Trantham January 12, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Liz, thank you so much, recently I’ve been I guess you could say “in the vally” and I’ve leand on my own understanding. I questions and even defied God in the choses I made and the thing I did. I realized after a while I needed to repent and fully surrender myself to God. I try to do that everyday. I pray for strength and courage when I’m tempted to fall back and do the wrong thing. Sometimes I rely on God and make it through and sometimes I don’t. God has led me down a path that has led me to this passage and it helps so much. Praise God for never letting me go.

  26. Gill Waugh January 17, 2014 at 1:46 am #

    Hey Liz just come across these thots recently on what has been my verse for last year. Due to abuse issues – trust has been tough but you have given me much food for thot as you unravelled this verse. Have been deeply impacted by the thought that to learn to trust with my all – I must let something go. That something for me is control becaus I have controlled my all to keep safe, and controlled all those around me to be safe by perfectionism and always having to get it right, look good, be good and have all the answers. I get it! Thank you for opening my eyes in breaking down this verse. Just love your heart Liz – and appreciate your ministry. Come visit NZ again soon!

  27. Hummie January 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this post with me. It’s absolutely beautiful and written in your classic style breaking apart each part of the verse and helping us to really soak in every part of it.

    Yes, straight paths may be boring, so I thank God for the winding paths and when they feel as easy as a straight path because He is leading me.


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