“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV). This has been my theme verse since soon after I opened my heart to Jesus in 1982. After returning to the Lord, I was really struggling with a deluge of questions about everything and anything to do with God and the Bible and my life in relation to God. My mind has always been very active and I was having great difficulty resting in my new-found relationship with the Lord. In fact, the enemy of our souls was tormenting me with thoughts that in effect questioned God’s goodness and trustworthiness.
I came across Proverbs 3:5 and soon found it to be so helpful and applicable. Every time I started to fret and obsess about something or was bombarded by thoughts that seemed to be of both fallen human and demonic origin, I would say this verse aloud or to myself or read it silently. My wife Jen did a cross-stitch of it and it hung on the wall to be read every time the Holy Spirit drew my attention to it which happened often. I also was given a bookmark quoting it and it would leap out at me whenever I need to be reminded of this instruction.
Over the years the Lord has often and repeatedly spoken to my heart to trust Him. This has been about both large and small matters. This happened again last Friday night during the opening worship at the first session of “Intimacy with God” led by the Reverend Garth Hunt of our own St. George’s Church. I sensed the Lord saying I had a word. Then, as I sought the Lord, a single word came into my mind: “Trust.” The Lord literally meant a word. Sometimes God is very brief and to the point in His communications with us. No room for confusion!
I understood this word to be for this blog posting which is why I am sharing it with you. But it also turned out to be a theme for the “Intimacy with God” teaching by Garth. You can hear an audio of Garth’s very helpful teaching by going to www.stgeorgesonline.com/pursuing. Garth emphasized several times that you can’t have an intimate relationship with someone you don’t trust. So if you want to have an intimate relationship with God, you must learn to trust Him.
In my experience, it’s not automatic to trust God. I believe there are a couple of reasons for this. The first is our fallen natures. Though we don’t realize it except in retrospect, all human beings inherit a tendency to mistrust God. This is what it means to be fallen. The first people fell away from God and began to hide from God and feel estranged from God. Ever since, people have struggled in this area of trust.
Once I put my faith in Jesus, the battle around trust became clear. Before that, I was unaware of the battle. That’s what I mean when I say it was only in retrospect that I realized that this is the normal human condition. Such mistrust may be covered over with lots of rationalization which may show up as anything from atheism, agnosticism or belief in an impersonal force (I progressed through all three in that order) to religious activities focussed on our own abilities or good works rather than trust in God’s salvation and in His agent of salvation, Jesus.
The second reason for mistrust of God is that our lives are marked by both trust-building and trust-destroying experiences with other people. Sometimes breeches of trust may be small. Some are very serious. Some we may remember. Others are buried especially if they happened early in life. But on a heart level there are issues of trust versus mistrust based on our experiences growing up as well as in adult life.
Because of our fallen natures, we tend to project our trust issues onto God—especially if breeches of trust have involved parents or parent figures. The goodness of God’s Fatherhood is called into question because of disappointments with earthly parents and other parent figures. If these happen early, the child hasn’t really put these hurts into words so the issue is not in their conscious memory but is an unresolved and hidden emotional issue of the heart.
The solution to all this is to begin to choose to trust God with all your hearts—to believe that what His word says about Him is true. God’s Word, the Bible, consistently affirms that God is good! In the first letter of John (1 John 1:5b NIV), it is written: “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” This verse also helped me enormously. Just think of it, no darkness at all! Is there any room for ambiguity or confusion or question in John’s mind. No, none at all.
Don’t forget that John was the disciple who was the most intimate with Jesus because he was so responsive to Jesus’ love. If anyone trusted Jesus it was John and he was confident that Jesus was without any dark or hidden motives and that Jesus perfectly represented God—that Jesus and the Father are one (see John 10:30 NIV or ESV).
The whole witness of Scripture and of God’s people throughout history is that God is entirely trustworthy. We are to take God at His word and choose to trust Him for everything pertaining to this life and the next. We are not to base our trust on how we feel at any given time nor on outward circumstances. Trusting God is a moment by moment choice. As we make this choice and especially at crucial points in our lives, we find that God is indeed trustworthy and our faith is increased and our trust deepened.
This does not mean that things always work out the way you or I had initially hoped. But as we grow in trust we see that God’s purposes for our lives unfold. Often, we may not understand God’s purposes until later, sometimes much later and sometimes, I believe not until we join the Lord in heaven. But as we choose to trust God regardless of either inner feelings or outward circumstances, God enables us to in fact trust Him and to discover that He is entirely trustworthy and good. God always brings into being what He says in His Word if we will choose to act on what He says. Choosing to trust enables actual trust.
The second line of Proverbs 3:4 is crucial to this: “Lean not on your own understanding.” If we try to first figure everything out in our limited understanding, trust will be eroded and we will be on a shaky foundation. But if we choose to trust God and not rely on our own ability to figure everything out, trust will be built up and what we need to understand will be made plain at some point by God. Some things are beyond our current ability to understand and we can rest in God’s trustworthiness even and especially when we don’t understand.
All this helps us to be able to receive more of God’s love. Remember: helping us all to receive more of God’s love is my goal. We cannot receive if we don’t begin to trust. The more we choose to trust, the more love and grace we can receive and the more we receive the more we experience the gift of trusting God with all our hearts.
“God moves in a mysterious way” is a wonderful hymn by William Cowper. Cowper led a very emotionally pain-filled life, yet the words he penned demonstrate his deep trust in God. The folowing verses are especially helpful.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense but trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence (outward circumstances), He hides a smiling face.
Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His works in vain.
God is His own interpreter And He will make it plain.
Listen to Lori Sealy perform “God moves in a mysterious way” in the video below.