by Anne Marie Owens
College was over a decade ago, yet I can still picture the scene. I was standing in the upstairs hall of our student union building and my RUF pastor said, “Annie, 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.” I couldn’t believe his response! I had come to him with a real problem and I expected a real answer. I remember walking away thinking, “huh, that’s surprising, I guess he thinks I needed to hear that.” It’d be comical if it weren’t so tragic to see now how enslaved I was by the idol of “my own understanding”.
But because God pursues His children, in the years following college, He graciously took away my ability to “lean on my own understanding." He did this by acting in ways I did not expect and by allowing things into my life I certainly could not understand. And when, in my confusion, I still refused to trust Him, He mercifully allowed me to grow miserable in my sin. Each obsessive worry and vain attempt to “understand” shrunk my comfort zone until I felt like a shell of who God had made me to be. I think I was saved at the time, but I had no clue what it meant to lean on my Savior.
Fast forwarding to the present, the irony of it all is that I honestly cannot “understand” the change that God has begun to work in my heart and mind, I just know it is by grace. Whereas the sovereignty of God used to sound like a threat to me, it is now one of my greatest comforts in life. And now rather than immediately giving into my compulsion to “figure out God," I am fighting to trust His heart when I cannot understand His hand. No surprise, John Newton said it better than I ever could when he wrote, “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.” Thankful for transforming grace.