Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith in God, and how, regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.
Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.
But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it. This is why prayer is effective, because we are giving over situations that are beyond our control to Someone who has all control.
I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.
When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly, I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.
Yeshua famously taught his disciples about trusting in our heavenly Father for all of their needs.
Matthew 6:31-32: ““Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “
He encouraged them not to do what the nations around them would do which was earnestly seek after every opportunity to improve material gain and wealth. This is not a situation unlike today in which we find ourselves living among a culture that is obsessed with materialism. This is why this topic of trusting in God can be such a challenging topic for us today. It’s because, at least in our American culture, we are constantly fed a steady diet of information that says we must be successful at all costs. That definition of success is typically wrapped up in nice houses, fancy cars, and investment income.
All my life I have wanted to be independent and be able to create my own source or sources of income to support myself and my family. Even if it wasn’t possible at any given time, it has always been in the back of my mind that I would like to accomplish that level of independence. I’ve always thought it was just the way my brain is wired, but lately I have come to think that it may have more to do with exposure to our culture than it does with any independent streak I may have in my personality. It does not appear to be an uncommon desire in our current culture.
Yet here I am with kids almost grown and over 25 years with my current employer. Thankfully, we currently have more than enough to meet all of our needs, even though at times it was a struggle as we were raising our family up. Through it all, my wife and I have always trusted that God would provide for our family, and he has graciously done so.
Does that mean that I didn’t have to do anything, and God would simply pour resources into our lap? Of course not, I have had to work very hard to provide consistency in my job, sometimes working nights and weekends as needed. But I have had a strangely long run with a single employer which is becoming less and less prevalent as the years go by, and I find that in itself is an unusual provision in these challenging times.
You see, trust in God is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, we are demonstrating that our trust is not in our own abilities or resources, but in God.
Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.
Trust in God also involves being flexible. In a moment we will look at various aspects of flexibility that should also be evident in the life of a believer who is trusting in God.
So far in our examination of this topic, we have reviewed trusting in God by praying about all things. We have also looked at the efforts that are still needed on our part to accomplish even our most basic needs.
Beyond these basics, another aspect of trusting in God is remaining flexible. Many times, we may believe we are headed toward a desired outcome when God has something totally different planned. This is not always a negative thing, but it may require a pivot in our thinking and expectations.
Back to the example of the responsible dad who is safely taking his family home from a road trip, we can glean some application by looking at various aspects of that situation.
For example, we need to be strategizing our desired route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. Perhaps the expected route home has become unavailable due to a crash ahead or construction that has blocked off access. In these instances, we need to be able to take the time to think rationally around the obstacle in order to continue making progress toward home. When we perform this exercise, many times new opportunities in previously undiscovered ways come to light.
For example, I have a typical way I commute to work every day but in times of heavy traffic I have begun to rely on digital mapping of my route to find the quickest way around the traffic as needed. Some of the alternative routes at times of heavy traffic have yielded much more pleasant ways of getting to the same destination. This is one way in which remaining flexible can yield new opportunities when we trust God’s direction.
Psalm 119:59-60: “I considered my ways, and turned my steps to your statutes. I will hurry, and not delay, to obey your commandments.”
Being obedient in those times can yield new experiences and more fruitful results.
We also need to be considering traffic and road conditions but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. Perhaps we begin to encounter snow, heavy rain, or dense fog which prevents us from seeing clearly. In these cases, we may need to simply pull over and wait it out until more favorable conditions arrive. Sometimes God has us sit quietly and wait for him until we can receive further instruction.
Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry.”
Isaiah 33:2: “Yahweh, be gracious to us. We have waited for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.”
These periods of waiting for God can be excruciating, especially for those type A’s among us. But these times can also provide needed rest when we are over-stressed, or they can cause us to focus on other needed things that may have arisen unexpectedly. Remaining flexible says that we are trusting that God has a reason for the unintended delay.
At other times, God provides guidance through or during the adverse condition or situation.
I can recall a true-life story about a couple driving home on the interstate when they became trapped in a white-out snowstorm. Unable to see the road, they simply pulled over, but they also knew that if they remained stationary too long, they would become trapped as the continuing snow deepened. Praying about their situation, they soon realized a snowplow had arrived to keep the freeway clear. They were then able to get back on the freeway and follow at a safe distance as the road was being plowed for them by professionals who knew the way and had the resources to clear the snow. They were able to safely arrive at their exit and complete their journey.
Psalm 25:5: “Guide me in your truth, and teach me, For you are the God of my salvation, I wait for you all day long.”
Psalm 73:21,23-24: “For my soul was grieved. I was embittered in my heart. … Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You have held my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
God’s guidance still involves us to follow that guidance, just as the couple had to get back on the freeway to follow the snowplow. But when we are faithful to his statutes, we will find he has provided a way through our predicament, and all to his glory.
In summary, we need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency in God beyond our own abilities and actions. When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.
This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who can bring us safely home at the end of the trip. Yet, if he has other plans for us along the way, plans of which we had no idea or had even considered a possibility, our trust in him will provide the confidence needed to operate in these unfamiliar areas and terrain.
This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. Yeshua taught:
John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.””
Paul reiterated this dependency on God when he wrote to the Galatian congregation:
Galatians 5:25: “If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.”
Therefore, if we live by faith in the God of the universe, let us also walk by faith that he can and will guide us within his perfect plan and purpose. This can provide real peace because it is not based in anything that can be overturned in this life, but it is based in the One who holds all things in the palm of his hand.
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