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

Sometimes our own understanding can get a little distorted.  Or just be flat-out wrong.

That's what happened to me last week.  Like the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and his friends get lost in the parking garage of a mall, so was it for me.

It was a quick trip to return an item of clothing that I had bought online.  I'll just stop in and return.  No fuss no muss.  Or so I thought.  As I pulled into the parking garage, I made a note to self that I had parked on Level 2 in the Blue Garage.  Perfect!  The store is only one floor up on Level 3.  I got in and out of the mall fairly quickly.  I thought I was retracing my steps and the path I took to get there, and soon found myself back in the Blue Garage.  But the only problem was, I had forgotten that I was still on Level 3.

I walked directly toward where I thought I had parked.  Okay, there's that white expensive car.  And mine should be just a couple of spaces over from it ... right over ... hey, where's my car?  Panic set in.  My heart began to race.  Who would have taken my car?  It's six years old.  A sport wagon.  Not that exciting.

I then decided to walk up a level.  Perhaps I had the wrong level in mind.  I'll check Level 4.  Round the winding ramp I went.  No car in sight.  Even more desperate now, I quickly walked back down to Level 3.  But I know that's where I parked!  I can't believe this is happening to me!  Why would someone want to steal my car?

I knew I'd have to find the mall security office in order to report my stolen vehicle and then figure out how to get back home.  Suddenly (and providentially, no doubt), a mall security car came down the ramp toward me.  I waved my hand to flag it down.  The guard rolled down the window. Hellooo, Antonio Banderas!  I kid you not. He looked exactly like the actor.  Slicked back hair and everything.  Cool!  He's working mall security incognito now.  Probably research for his next film role. 

I proceeded to share my predicament, and the guard offered to help me find my vehicle.  "Hop in.  We'll drive around and see if we can find your car."  Then, "Antonio" suggested we go down a level, when we couldn't find my car on either Level 3 or Level 4.  Naturally, as soon as we rounded the corner to Level 2, I immediately saw my vehicle.  "There it is! Oh, thank you, Lord!" I exclaimed.

It's funny now, but my parking garage saga is a perfect illustration of what happens when we rely on our own understanding.  We can't trust ourselves.  Our minds will shape our memories or judgments into what we want them to be.  And we can easily make our own truth.  You may think you're doing the right thing by spending time looking for direction and answers in your life on Level 3, when all along God is trying to lead you back to Level 2.

In times like these, we are not acknowledging the Lord.  His understanding is a whole lot different than our own.  He knows what is best for us.  And he can see what we cannot.

Before heading out on today's path, may I encourage you to write God's Word on your heart?  Make mental notes to yourself of Truth and his promises to you.  It is the only way—and how we are commanded—to get accurate direction for our lives.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Have you walked some crooked paths in your lifetime?  Spend some time reflecting on a particular incident where you relied on your own understanding.  Write down the results.  Did you eventually submit and acknowledge God's authority to direct your ways?  What were the results?  We are the ones who cause our paths to become crooked, and he is the one who patiently—and lovingly—makes them straight.

Further Reading:

Psalm 4:5

Isaiah 40:3