Webster’s definition of “Trust”:
a: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b: one in which confidence is placed
It can be difficult to put treads on our faith. That is, find ways to live out the tenants of our faith in everyday, ordinary life. On Sunday, the sermon is clear and the worship moves us. But then Monday comes. For instance this past Sunday I taught our church about the importance of trusting God more than our instincts and experience. I hope the application was obvious and tangible, but sometimes even in our best efforts, we miss the mark of clarity.
So, what does it mean to trust God? Not just in the aspects of our life that are beyond our control, but to actively trust him in every area of our life. How do we trust and rely on God in the pickup line at school, while putting our budget together, in our dating life, with our children, and for our future?
Consider these four practical suggestions:
1) Trust God with a posture of humility.
Solomon wisely wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7
Right thinking always proceeds right behavior. This is more practical than we realize. It is hard to imagine a more undervalued virtue than that of humility. We live in an age of specialization. We are the most educated humans to ever live. We can google data of every kind in just about any spot. This has the propensity to puff us up with pride. Solomon’s point is direct: DO NOT lean on your own understanding! Do not be wise in your own eyes!
A posture of humility changes your prayers. You begin to pray like this:
“Heavenly Father, I’ve got years of experience in this, but I need you as if I had none.”
“God I’m a professional in this area, but LORD I’m coming to you as if I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“Lord, I’ve been here before, but I’m acknowledging you as if it is the first time.”
The reward of this prayer is significant: “and He will make straight your paths.” Want the fog removed from your path? Begin to humbly rely on God, more than yourself.
2) Trust God by heeding his Word.
I’ve heard a variation of this complaint from many Christians over the years: “God just doesn’t seem to speak to me.” My follow-up usually goes like this, “Tell me about your Bible reading lately.” I can’t recall someone ever telling me how they were diligently and faithfully reading the Words of God and simultaneously feeling like God didn’t speak to them.
The will of God isn’t nearly as mystical and mysterious as we often make it out to be. To actively trust God means to regularly and diligently read, study and apply his divine revelation to us. Your Bible is more than just a collection of ancient religious documents. Your Bible is the breath of God on paper (or digital screens).
Think about God’s message to Joshua as he succeeded Moses as the leader of the estimated 3 million Israelites wandering in the wilderness:
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. – Joshua 1:6-8
When Joshua assumed the role of leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, God’s message wasn’t on how Joshua could cast a compelling vision. Step one was not to watch all Simon Sinek TED Talks or read John Maxwell’s leadership books. God instructs Joshua to tether himself tightly to the Word of God. To trust it and obey it. The reward for doing so was also very clear: You will be successful in leading my people if you do so.
Need a “word from the Lord”? Start in Genesis.
3) Trust God through purposeful prayer.
WWJD. Remember the Christian 90s fad, “What would Jesus do?” It is a good question to consider, however, I would suggest a slightly different version. “What did Jesus do?” I suppose WDJD doesn’t have quite the same phonetical ring to it. Nevertheless, the question points us to the objective observation of Jesus’ life. When Jesus was faced with trials, critical moments and the overwhelming burden of his mission he did something quite extraordinary. He paused, found solitude and prayed. Luke, the first century historian, noted that Jesus did this often. (Luke 5:16)
Our fast-paced, busy and tyrannically urgent lives produce impulsive and unwise decision-making techniques. We ought to contemplate imitating Jesus here.
Pause and take a breath.
Get alone in a quiet place.
Talk with your Heavenly Father. (P.S. – He loves for you to boldly and honestly bring your heart and burdens to him.)
As James, the half-brother of Jesus said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” – James 1:5-6
In the school line. When you roll out of bed. While you put your make-up on. As you jog. Beside a river. On your back porch. Ask God in faith!
4) Trust God with the help of his church.
Few things have undermined the modern Christian experience like the idea that you “go to church on Sunday”. The reduction of the earthly expression of Jesus Christ to an hour+ long weekend event has diluted the potency of our faith and malnourished our discipleship.
We all need people who we can rely on for Godly wisdom, direction, encouragement and occasionally rebuke. Of course, this requires humility. Of course, this is messy. Of course, it is easier to slip in and slip out of a “church service,” but this is why there are roughly 60 “one anothers” in the New Testament alone. The ancient proverbial wisdom that “iron sharpens iron” necessitates sparks flying occasionally.
Be careful not to seek advice from anyone. Look for people who are walking humbly, saturated in the Word and purposeful in their prayer. Look for people who will encourage you when you need it AND discourage you from making unwise decisions when you need them to.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. – Proverbs 11:14
Be humble, read the Bible, pray, and seek Godly counsel. Pretty deep and profound, huh? In 1960 the United States Navy developed an acronym to reinforce its operational philosophy. That acronym was KISS. Also known as: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Maybe we shouldn’t over complicate trusting God as well.