What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
Trista and I had been dating for a while, when I finally got the nerve to tell her how I felt about her. We were sitting in my car outside her apartment when I took a deep breath and said, I love you. I said it softly and quickly, that way I could back track if I need to without to much embarrassment. But she looked at me and said, I love you too. That was the happiest moment of my life. I don’t remember driving back to campus, or going to bed, or really anything else that happened that night.
Fast forward a little over a year. We were married and there was a man in the church where we were working that started a vicious rumor about me. When I first heard what he was saying I was mad and wanted to show him how Jesus treated the money changers in the temple. But my anger quickly turned to dread, I had a new bride and what would she think if she heard this rumor. Would she believe me? Would she believe the rumor? I wasn’t sure what to do next. The rumor was untrue, but I didn’t know how Trista would react. I went home and sat down at the table with her and told her what was being said, and who was saying it. She looked at me with pain in her eyes and then she said one of the most life affirming things I have ever heard. She simply said, I trust you.
I trust you. Those were words of strength and words of hope. As I reflect on that season of my life, I am struck by the fact that very often love and trust are not the same thing. We love people, we feel certain ways about people, we get all warm and fuzzy, or our hearts go pitter patter. Love is a beautiful thing. But trust that’s completely different. People can openly declare their love for one another, and then stew in their jealousy because love is not trust. Loving you, feeling a certain way about you, has everything to do with me. But when I trust that’s a deeper level of intimacy.
I believe that’s why Solomon writes in our text Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Solomon knew there was a difference between loving God and trusting Him. I love God, I feel a certain way about Him. When life is going well, or when life is in the midst of that predictable routine; I love God.
But when we get to the other side of the road, when I am in the midst of a crisis and nothing seems to be going right. When it seems that any choice I make is going to be the wrong choice. When everything is falling apart at the seems, it’s not enough to simply feel a certain way about God. It’s not enough to say, I love God. Solomon says if you are going to be wise, then you must learn how to trust God completely. Trust His actions or His lack of actions in your life and your situation. And honestly that’s a call to a depth in our relationship with God where many Christians come up short.
Solomon is very specific about where our trust must lie. Trust in the Lord completely. Not kind of trust Him, not mostly trust Him, but trust Him completely. Is this a safe place to admit that we often times wonder if God trustworthy and reliable? We probably don’t express those doubts out loud, but honestly it’s a reasonable question. Do you trust a God you cannot see? Let me say something that someone here desperately needs to hear this morning, every Christian in the history of the Church has had moments of doubt. Even Peter, the guy who walked with Jesus, was a part of the inner circle, and held the keys to the kingdom, had his doubts.
My concern is that there is a possibility our trust in God is only theoretical and intellectual. Solomon is not calling us to theoretically Trust in the Lord completely. He is saying we must trust God from the core of who we are. Do I really trust Him, do I rely upon Him?
We measure our trust in God with every decision we make, the way we live each day, the way we relate to other people, in every decision we make and every action we take. When we decide to tell the truth when we are tempted to lie, or give money we are tempted to hoard it for ourself, decisions to forgive when something in us would like to retaliate. Love is abstract, trust is concrete.
I can love God, I can love things about God, but if I am going to trust Him then I must be willing to know Him. The more I know about God, the more I understand the depth of His trustworthiness. When you trust the Lord, it means you have learned to lean on Him; rely on Him; to commit everything you are and everything you need to His care. It means trusting God when life gets crazy and nothing makes sense. But it also means when things are peaceful, calm, and even boring that you trust His character, His integrity, and His divine attributes.
There are times in life when God seems so near, times when everything we believe seems to work. We pray for the sick and they get healed. The rain is coming down in sheets and we find a parking spot by the front door in the Target parking lot. Those are fun times, those are the times when it’s easy to trust the Lord completely.
But it’s a different story when it feels like God is a million miles away, busy with something or someone else. The person you are praying for passes away, or you not only don’t get the promotion you get laid off, or someone else pulls into that parking spot right before you get there. Trusting God completely means that I trust Him especially when nothing is making sense.
We can’t just say we trust God. Trust is seen in the way we Trust His Purposes.
When you are going through a difficult time in life, we need to remember that God is just, God is good, and God is merciful. The bedrock of faith is our ability to trust that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. The one who was trustworthy yesterday when everything seemed to be working is the same God who is trustworthy when everything is falling apart and tomorrow when the circumstances will be different again.
God loves You. His thoughts toward you are good and not evil. Very often we read Romans 8:28 where Paul says And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose then we forget to read the very next verse that says For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son.
God is at work in your life fulfilling His purpose to conform you to the image of His Son, to make us like Jesus. He is working all things all these experiences together for our good so that we are conformed to the image of His Son. My purpose in life is to be the image bearer of Jesus. It doesn’t matter in the light of eternity if I am rich or poor, sick, or healthy, happy or struggling, popular or ignored. The only things that matters is if I’m fulfilling my purpose in life, and that’s to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this community, to be the light of Christ in this dark community.
And our trust is God is seen in the way we Trust His Plan.
We read in Ephesians 2:10 For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. God has a plan for you and us. He has great things to accomplish through this Church Body. If we will just get up every day and obey God, His plan will get accomplished. We don’t have to know the whole plan. Actually in my own life it’s better if I just trust God and forget trying to figure out what He wants me to do next. Because, when I get involved in the planning I try to accomplish it by my own strength and intellect. I am always better off just knowing what we need to know now in order to obey.
As I look back on my journey with Christ, I can honestly say 20 years ago, I would not have imagined myself working with a community of Faith in Anniston Alabama. But I can tell you that every day that I have trusted God’s plan, I have always been where I needed to be. God doesn’t ask me to evaluate His plan. He simply calls me to trust Him enough to follow where He leads. He calls me to have that conversation, offer hospitality, forgive, embrace, and share. Each day, one day at a time, to simply follow where He leads.
In my life, trusting God has been like skydiving. When that red light comes on and the door is thrown open, you can either trust the parachute enough to jump out of the plane or you can stand on the edge of the plane talking about various theories of gravity and aerodynamics. But unless you actually jump out of the plane you can’t be called a skydiver. Faith is shown by action. Are we willing to surrender control and obey God, trusting His plan? Our text this morning is calling for you to make a decision to trust God enough to do what He says to do.
Trusting God means we refuse to lean on your own opinions.
The command to trust the Lord is reinforced by the command to not trust our own understanding and intelligence. We don’t naturally want to love God and love others. I mean if someone slaps me on the cheek, my natural understanding tells me, if I slap him back harder my problem will be solved. Yet Jesus says I am supposed to turn the other cheek, and trust God to defend me. I have to have enough faith in God to do it His way, trusting Him to defend me if I indeed need defending.
Our world has its own way of achieving greatness. The disciples were fussing and fighting with one another, trying to figure out who was the greatest. Yet, Jesus’ way to greatness was the exact opposite of what their understanding was telling them. They thought you raced for the best seat, climbed the ladder to success. But Jesus said, if you really want to be great then serve others. God’s Kingdom has been called the upside down kingdom, not because God is wrong, but because Godliness is not the bedrock of our human nature.
Abraham is a great example of someone who trusted God, we even call him the father of faith. When God told him to leave him and follow when He lead, Abram obeyed not knowing where that obedience would take him. His finest hour was when God told him to do something that was radically contrary to his own understanding. All the promises God had given Abraham were to be fulfilled through Isaac. Yet God told Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice to Him. What did Abraham do? He obeyed.
But there were some tests Abraham failed along the way. When a famine came his understanding told him to solve the problem by going to Egypt. That just got him into another situation where his own understanding told him to lie about Sarah being his wife. Abraham and Sarah leaned upon their own understanding and Ishmael was born, which is still causing issues in our world today.
Don’t think that you are better than Abraham. Events will come into our lives that naturally cause us to ask why? Why is this happening? Why is it happening to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why isn’t this working the way I planned it? Why, Why, Why?
God is not sacred of those questions. He is not offended when we ask them. But often His answer is simple, Don’t lean on your own understanding. As strange as it may sound, often the answer to why is trust Me. Especially when it goes against our understanding and makes no sense.
When my brother in law was younger he spent some time working on a dive rescue team. He was telling us a story about working in a river that was really murky and dark. He was down there for a while and eventually he lost his bearings and could not tell which way he needed to swim to get to the surface of the water. He said if it wasn’t for the bubbles he would have drown. I had to look confused because he explained when you are in water and you have lost your bearings all you have to do is look for the air bubbles, they always go to the top of the water. There are times you feel like you are upside down, or going the right way when actually you are going deeper. In those times you have to trust the bubbles even when your mind tells you that you are going the wrong way.
That has been my experience of what it feels like to trust God. Sometimes circumstance, or my own emotions, are telling me to do something contrary to what is actually wise. Those are the times that I need to trust my the bubbles, we must trust God.
Finally in all your ways acknowledge Him.
Trust is not apathy, trust means that we stand ready to act. Trust lives in constant recognition of Gods presence and His involvement. In Daniel 3 we read this great retelling of the time when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were brought before Nebuchadnezzar. Everyone had been ordered to worship this golden image the king had set up, but they refused to bow down. Nebuchadnezzar told them if they didn’t bow down they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. They couldn’t stand against the king or save themselves, but they knew they were not ultimately at the mercy of Nebuchadnezzar. They acknowledged and counted on God’s involvement and in verse 16 they say:
Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to defend our actions in this matter. We are ready for the test. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected. (Daniel 3:16-18)
These three men are willing to trust God with their lives. They know God is with them if He rescues them, but they are willing to trust Him even if He doesn’t. We are being called to trust that God is with us when things are going our way. And we are being called to trust God even when they don’t.
In all your ways means in everything you do. I love how Eugene Patterson translates this passage in The Message, Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!
If Greenbrier is going to thrive, we must be filled with women and men who live life recognizing that no matter what it may look like, God sits in the heavens. He rules it all and nothing gets by Him. There’s nothing He can’t do and there’s nothing He can’t fix. There is no problem too big or too little for Him to solve. There is a confidence available to us if we will acknowledge Him in all we do.
God makes a promise at the close of our text. If we will trust Him rather than relying upon our own understanding, if we will acknowledge Him in all our ways He promises to make our paths straight. He will go before you and prepare the way. Last week I had a meeting in Atlanta and as I was driving down the interstate it struck me that someone went before me and prepared the road. I can travel down it safely because of the hard work someone has done in my behalf. The person who puts his trust in the Lord has a highway of grace to travel upon. God will make for you and me a way where there seemed to be no way.