by Janeen Lewis
“Today’s young woman knows she controls her own destiny.” The words blared from the television set during a recent morning news show synopsis about women who had just graduated from college. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that “today’s young woman” was in for a shock. It’s been 16 years since I graduated from college and I ‘ve learned that trying to control my own destiny is like trying to hold a slippery fish with bare hands.
As a young Christian woman I didn’t completely trust God with my life. I loved God and trusted Christ as my Savior, but in my day-to-day life I wanted to be in charge. This was especially true when I thought about the uncertainty of my future or when I suffered the normal trials of life on earth. I wanted to create my own safety net. I worked more, thinking more income could buy security. I tried to calm my fears with a variety of insurances. In difficult times I depended heavily on my relationships with people. Instead of trusting God, I was trying to build a shield of worldly safeguards. I was leaning on a spider’s web.
A Worldly Web
Job’s friend Bildad described what it means to lean on a spider’s web: “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold” (Job 8:13-15).
Today unbelievers and Christians alike are tempted to weave a tapestry of spider’s webs designed to keep them “safe.” Modern spider’s webs may include income, investments, education, jobs, homes, insurance, and relationships. There is nothing wrong with these things—until they become replacements for our trust in God. When Christians try to create their own protection, it may be because we are attached to the plans we have made instead of the plans God has for us.
For Christians, trust is deciding to let God have his way, even in the face of uncertainty, instead of continually trying to forge our own way.
Our Own Understanding
“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.” This passage from Proverbs parallels the spider’s web analogy in Job. When Christians lean on such fragile constructions, they are “leaning on their own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5, 6 led me to some life-changing events when I was a single young woman. I was trying so hard to control my destiny—my career, where I would live, what I would own, whom I would marry. But deep inside my soul it felt like everything was whirling out of control. After reading Proverbs 3:5, 6 I decided to give trust a try. I let go of my own expectations, sought God’s guidance in prayer, and waited to see where he led me. That path led to a peace I had never known before and a life recommitted to God.
When Christians lean on their own understanding, they forfeit God’s perfect wisdom and guidance. God knows what is best. We “see only a reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12), but God is omniscient. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Sometimes Christians have the misconceived fear that if we let God navigate he will not give us what we want, that we will lead excessively dull lives, and that we will all go to Africa as missionaries. When we trust him, we can see how that misconception is wrong. I learned this principle when I earned a teaching degree.
As I was looking for a teaching job, I ignored one school district because of its alternative calendar and the age of the students I would teach. I didn’t even bother filling out an application. The first call I got about a teaching job was from a principal in this system. I said, “Here we go, God.” I went to the interview and got the job. From the beginning, I loved my new job and met other Christians who inspired me. I had trusted God and he revealed plans that prospered me in my soul.
Leaning on Faith
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” For the Christian, the first step in learning to live a life of trust involves energizing one’s faith.
When my son was born I felt a strong desire to quit my job to care for him. But my income comprised half of what my husband and I earned. We certainly couldn’t see the whole staircase, but we took that first step of faith and I quit teaching in 2006. For the past five years, what we have witnessed has been amazing. Every meal, every piece of clothing, every doctor’s visit, every need and then some, has been provided for us. Now whenever a financial concern comes our way, I am confident God will take care of us. When God leads us down a path, he doesn’t leave us lonely and lost. He will provide what we need.
We walk by faith when we look to God to provide the groceries when the bank account is low. We take the first step on a staircase of faith every time we go to Africa, inner-city America, or a local soup kitchen, even if it is outside our comfort zone, because God has nudged us in that direction. Living a life of trust leads to a more interesting and exciting life than can ever be imagined.
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Trust in God replaces worry with love. “But the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him” (Psalm 32:10).
Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Deuteronomy 33:27 conveys the soft image of a father’s arms wrapped around his children: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
If you are leaning on a spider’s web, maybe it is time to live a life of trust. Only God can provide perfect security, not through something as flimsy as a spider’s web, but through his strong, everlasting arms—arms that catch and hold us eternally.
Janeen Lewis is a freelance writer in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.
Are you living a life of trust?
Do you trust God, or are you leaning on your own understanding? Think about your answers to the following questions:
• If you felt led by God to change your career path but it meant taking a serious pay cut, would you do it?
• If you felt convicted to tithe to your church but were afraid you wouldn’t have enough to cover your expenses, would you tithe anyway?
• If you felt called to serve God outside your comfort zone but you were unsure what the future held, would you trust him to guide your footsteps?
• If you were convicted by Scripture to either stop or start doing something, but doing so would make you less popular with friends or coworkers, would you still do what the Bible says?
• Do you constantly feel like you must control every situation or else your plans will fail? How hard is it to let go of your worries and trust God?