Today we are wrapping up our series called My Story. If you haven’t been here each week, let me review just why we are doing this series: Because each day we are faced with several choices. Each and every choice determines the direction of our life, and each and every decision also becomes part of our story, whether they are good choices or not. And what you may have never thought about is how much your story is affected by these spiritual choices. We’ve talked about the choices between Religion vs. Relationship, Counterfeit vs. Real, Deception vs. Truth, Bitterness. Vs. Forgiveness, Bondage vs. Freedom, and last week we talked about Rebellion vs. Submission.
I think that today’s choice really brings everything together, and helps us to remember all the other choices as well. It challenges our faith, our beliefs about God, and our need to control everything around us. And ironically, as hard as it is for us to do, it’s written on every piece of currency in the United States. In God we TRUST.
Now I think that the reason that this is such a big choice is because of the multitude of things that we can trust God with. As we’ll see today, God doesn’t want us to just trust Him when things are going well. God doesn’t want us to just put the saying on our money but not live it out. God doesn’t want us to trust Him with only portions of our life. God wants us to trust Him with our entire heart, with every detail of our life. But that involves letting go of the grip we try to have on our own lives.
Here’s what Solomon, the WISEST MAN TO EVER LIVE, had to say about trusting in God:
“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.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
How many of you have heard this verse before? I’m sure that many of you have! It’s such a popular Christian verse. We’ve even made a catchy little tune out of it, that I learned back when I was a kid:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your paths straight!
And you thought just because I wasn’t on the worship team that I wouldn’t be singing this morning. But as popular as this verse is, we struggle so much with living it out! I’d like to take just a few minutes here and really look at this verse, to make sure you understand what it really means.
First of all, what does Solomon mean by heart? Certainly we shouldn’t be looking at this word literally, as the organ. So think of how you use the word heart. What does it mean when we say, I love you with all of my heart? That gives us a deeper understanding of what Solomon was saying here! When we say that to someone, we are trying to portray that we love that person with every part of us, with everything in us. In a very similar way, but even more, that’s what the word heart represents here. The Hebrew word for heart used in this sentence is the word LABE (pronunciation), and it means the inner person or self, the seat of thought and emotion: our conscience, courage, mind, and understanding. It means everything in us.
And what does it mean to acknowledge Him? That word is the Hebrew word YAW-DAH’ (pronunciation). No, not Yoda. To acknowledge someone in this day’s vocabulary means to give them a head nod as you walk by, like wassup.
In these times, it’s not quite the same way. I don’t like the way the ESV translates it. It actually means to recognize, understand, know well, and to know intimately. In all your ways, know Him intimately, and He will make your paths straight. Now doesn’t that just make so much more sense?
Alright, now that we’ve given you a quick seminary class, what does all this mean together? What’s Solomon trying to communicate?
We are to trust God with every part of our lives, beginning to end, and everything in between. And not only just say we trust Him, but actually give Him control over everything we are. Why? Because left to ourselves, we make awful decisions. We can’t rely on our own understanding of life, because let’s face it, we don’t get life! As soon as we think we figure a part of it out, we get knocked down and don’t understand what happened. We like to think we can control our lives, but we find out through life’s hardest times that we certainly are not in control.
And because we have found out the hard way that we are not in control, when we don’t trust God, it leaves us with something else instead: Fear. When we realize that we aren’t in control, fear TAKES control. (Yes, that line was tweetable.)
If we can’t trust, we live in fear of what’s going to happen with that certain thing. For example, if we can’t trust that planes won’t plummet to the ground when we ride in them, we will live in fear of flying. If we can’t trust our spouse to be faithful, we will constantly be fearful that they aren’t.
But, when we know Him well, when we are spending time knowing and understanding God in an intimate way, our paths are made straight. We can go through life not worrying which path to take, or even where our path is taking us, because we know we are taking the straight path, the path that God has given us to take. We don’t live in fear anymore, but in peace, because we are trusting in God to take care of us!
Fear and trust, they’re complete opposites. And our choices reflect one or the other. David put it this way in Psalm 56:3.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
Easier said then done right? I understand. In fact, I didn’t know how much I was living in fear of tomorrow until God came and dramatically changed the path of Kim and I’s life a few years ago. While I was still down in Virginia at Liberty University, Kim was studying at a school in the Philly area, and we got engaged that December. I ended up going to online classes in order to be able to be wherever I had to be in order to be married sooner. I didn’t want to wait until we both graduated, and I didn’t want Kim to leave her program, because it was so competitive.
So that next fall then, I was home in Dillsburg, and Kim was still attending her Philly school. I just started leading our youth group, and knew it was exactly where I was supposed to be. I visited Kim often that fall, and we began to search for apartments near her for when we got married. I didn’t have a job, so I began working at Apple-bee’s. We thought through every obstacle in order to hopefully make things work for when we got married. By mid December, our plan was to get married that next fall, I was to get a bank job, we would move into an apartment outside of Philly, but I didn’t want to stop the youth group, so I’d make the commute home several times a week. Kim would continue at her school, though she really didn’t like it at all. It would leave us dry, barely home, and rough for the first few years of marriage, but it was worth it to make our plans work.
Well, Kim came home for winter break, just a wreck about her school. She didn’t want to go back, she hated the atmosphere of the entire school. So we looked into other places with her specific program. We called around, and it turned out that my childhood dream school, Messiah, was working on her exact program, to start the year she would graduate and move into it. So we jumped on it. She applied and within 2 weeks she was attending Messiah college. How fantastic that was!
However, I was still in a rough job situation at Apple-bee’s. I wasn’t making nearly enough money to get married and provide, so I got depressed. I searched and searched, and found nothing. I finally gave in and went for a bank job through my dad, and after the interview and my dad’s good words, I thought I had it in the bag. I was denied 2 weeks later. I was devastated, thinking that was my last shot. That same day, Kim and I got a message from the owners of the Frosty Llama, and they wanted to talk to me about running the place. I got ready, with not much hope, and headed over. Within 3 days, I was hired. I found out later that they had been praying for a young person with the heart for youth would take the job, and that the day they contacted me, they had separately gotten referrals about me.
In the course of 2 1/2 months, Kim and I’s lives completely changed. The direction we were pushing for, trying to control and make happen, was completely different. We were living in the fear of providing and making everything work. But God had a different plan for us. And here we are today. God also apparently had a few different plans for us even today: I’m in the banking world now, and Kim isn’t even going to Messiah’s grad school right away, because if you haven’t noticed yet, we are expecting our first child this November.
Here’s the reason I tell you this story. It’s not because I want to tell you about how God takes away every hard thing in life, or to brag about how it all worked out well for us. I’m telling you this story because it has dramatically changed Kim and I’s perspective on our trust in God. Since then, we have learned to trust God more and more with every aspect of our life, because we know that He will lead us when we trust in Him.
And here’s what’s so special about trust. Trust is about RELATIONSHIP. As relationships grow closer, trust is gained. The closer we are to someone, the more we trust them. I guarantee that you don’t have a close relationship with someone who you can’t trust. We trust those closest to us. And, as we trust someone more and more, our relationship with them grows. So when we trust in God, we are opening ourselves up to God. We are giving up control over things knowing that the one we trust will keep their Word. We give up control and trust that whatever we gave over will be taken care of. It’s why Solomon says that we should, in all our ways, know Him intimately. Because trust and relationship go hand in hand.
Maybe you’re here this morning and you’re asking the question to yourself, Why SHOULD I trust God? Why should I give up control to Him? Because, he’s proven faithful.
His entire written Word is Him proving to be faithful. Him sending His Son for you and for me, so that we wouldn’t perish but have everlasting life with Him instead, shows Him to be faithful. These things are huge! In His Word, we find time and time again that He is faithful, and that He is so much greater to trust than other people, other things, or even ourselves. We can trust God, because He is in control.
It says in Prov. 16:9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
A few chapters later, Solomon again writes:
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
Solomon, again the WISEST MAN to ever live, is sure that God is in control and trustworthy.
Jeremiah proclaims: “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17
How can we fail to trust the God who created the universe, and holds it all together?
Yet many times, with many different parts of our lives, because of our sinful ways, we want to stay in control. God knows that. As you read through the Old Testament, you’ll constantly read a phrase along the lines of, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.” Some might think it’s repeated because it’s how God addresses Himself, maybe to show His due praise. I agree with that to an extent, but I also think God says this often as a reminder. Check this out:
Ex. 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
God begins the writing of the 10 commandments with this reminder, as if to say, YOU CAN TRUST ME. Remember, I brought you out of your slavery, that you were in for 400 years! I showed my power and might to the world. I am your God, and you can TRUST ME.
So, the question you need to ask yourself then, is this: What areas in my life do I need to trust God with, starting today?
And here’s what I’ve found to be true about myself. When I ask the larger question, do I trust God with all my heart, I can very easily answer yes without thinking much about it. But when I replace heart with certain areas of my life, then that’s when it gets real for me. That’s when I have to take time to really think about it.
- Do I trust God with my marriage?
- Do I trust God with my children?
- Do I trust God with my job?
- Do I trust God with my purpose?
- Do I trust God with my future?
I wanted to address what the internet believes to be the top 4 hardest things for us to trust God with. I’d also like to add what it looks like to live in fear versus in trust with each thing. See what you connect with here:
- My career – What’s it look like to live in fear? I’m constantly worried about job security. I feel like if I were to lose my job or my title, then I’m not sure how I would survive. I have to work and work and work in order to go above and beyond all the demands, even if it comes before my God and my family and friends. Sound familiar? But trusting in God looks like this: God provides through my job, and I am grateful for that. I’m at my job to make a difference in the lives of those around me. I realize that someone else could do my job, and someday will. The world will continue to run even if I’m not in that position, because God is in control. This doesn’t mean we don’t like our jobs, or that we won’t work hard and do our best, but that we don’t wrongly prioritize. God will provide for me and my family.
- My kids – I am aware that I don’t have any yet, but I’ve seen what it looks like to live in fear vs trust when it comes to our children. What’s it look like to live in fear? I think it comes in the form of the questions we ask about their future the most. What if they don’t make the team this year? What if they misbehave in school and I have to talk with their teachers? What if when they grow up, they get into drugs? I’ve heard so many horror stories about other people’s kids, what if that happens to mine? And what it can turn into is overprotective and controlling parenting. But trusting in God looks like this: I will raise my children to know and love God. I’ll show them Christ’s love and grace to the best of my ability. I won’t feel awkward talking about spiritual things with them, no matter their age. I’ll teach and model for them that knowing God is our number one priority. I’ll continue to support and love them, even as they make their own bad decisions. While it can be very challenging to be a parent and see our children make painful choices, I trust that God has a plan for them, and I’ve done my best at being a good example for them.
- My relationships – Relationships is pretty broad, but let’s see if you relate to any of these thoughts that live in fear when it comes to relationships: In romantic relationships: What if he or she doesn’t love me anymore? He seems so distant. She seems so upset. This can’t be what marriage is about, where is the love? Divorce is so common now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens to me. I don’t feel the love and connection we used to have. For those of you who are single, maybe you struggle with these fears: Will someone ever love me? There must be something wrong with me because I can’t find my soul mate. Everyone around me is married or in a relationship, I must be doing something wrong. But trusting in God looks like this, first in romantic relationships: Love is a choice. There are days the feeling of love seems to be missing. There are days of arguments and disagreements. But I will continue to love as Christ loved me, and forgive as Christ forgave me. I trust that as we both grow closer to God in our own lives, we will grow closer in our relationship as well. Our relationship is great when we are both spending time with God regularly. And in the single life, when we trust God, it looks more like this: I will use this time of singleness to grow closer to Christ. If there is someone that I will someday marry, God will reveal them to me when it’s right. All the love I’ll ever need comes from God, and if that’s His will for me for my entire life, I’m ok with that.
- Money – Living in fear looks like this: I’m constantly concerned about my finances. I never feel like I have enough money. I wish I had more money to do the things that I wanted. I’ll have to keep working and working, but someday I’ll make the right amount of money. If I have to work 3 jobs and 80 hours a week in order to make the money I want, I’ll do it, even if it means sacrificing relationships, and sleep. I do things for the money, not because it’s where I feel God has called me. But living trusting in God looks like this: I trust that God will provide for me. It’s hard to say, but I have more than enough. Money doesn’t run my life, God does. Even when things look tight, I know that God will provide for me. I don’t need more in order to be happy. And to show that my relationship with God is more important than my money, I gladly give to the church and to the Kingdom of God because it’s all God’s anyway! I am a steward, and will be grateful for all God has given me.
You probably noticed a little pattern, and it’s all what I’m trying to get at here today. In each of these areas of our lives, what really makes a difference and brings about trust is our priorities. Why? Because like I said, trust is about relationship. Our relationship with God is completely connected with our trust in Him. And if He is not our priority, if He is not who we put our trust in, then we put our priority, and our trust, into these areas. When we make our career our priority in life, it puts our trust and our reliance on our career. But our career is not in control, and it will leave us in fear. If we make our spouse our number one priority, we put all of our trust into them. And because they are imperfect just as we are, they are not in control, so when they mess up, they’ll leave us in fear. If making and having money is our priority in life, we put our trust in our money. But it doesn’t matter how much we have, it can begin to control us, even though money is not in control, and in turn, it leaves us in fear. We can not lean on our own understanding.
But when we trust in God with all our hearts, and when we acknowledge Him, know Him well and intimately, then our paths are made straight. When our priority is God, our trust is in God. And when we trust God, and He continues to be faithful, our relationship grows, and it produces this feeling we are all searching to find: Peace. With each and every area of our life that we trust God with, we will find peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious (or do not be in fear) about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”In John 14:27, Jesus says this: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
When we put our trust into the things of this world, when we lean on our own understanding, it leaves us in fear. That’s why Jesus can confidently say that with Him we can find peace!
Trusting in God isn’t easy at first, I know that. It’s like trusting one of your new friends with a secret. The first few secrets are pretty nerve racking when you say it and think, “Oh boy, I sure hope I can trust them to keep this secret.” But when they are faithful, your relationship grows.
You know, I really enjoy the song “No Longer Slaves.” It sings in the chorus: “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”
Think about your children for a moment, or what we can observe about children. Children don’t have the fears we do, do they? They aren’t concerned with how much money you make. They aren’t concerned with their future careers. In fact, they’re barely concerned about the future. Why is that? Because as children, they are trusting in their parents, fully. They trust that they will take care of them, that they will provide. That they will feed them, change them, and love them. And every time that you come through as their parents, they trust you more and more. They trust that their parents are in control.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture now in this song? We are no longer slaves to fear, because we are children of God! We trust in God with all our heart, just as children do with their parents. It’s no wonder that Jesus made so many comments about child like faith.
Are you living like a child of God? Without fear and anxiety over tomorrow, over things you can’t control?
What areas of your life do you need to start trusting God with?
Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
To conclude this series called my story, I want to leave you with a thought: While we may call our past OUR story, when we trust God with all our heart, we give HIM the pen.
Will you give God the pen today?