“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Everything does not depend on you! Let that thought sink in for a moment. Bask in the warm relief of it. You can trust God with yourself, your loved ones, your career, your future, your problems, your hurts – you can trust God with everything!
From personal experience, the psalmist at last learned this great truth: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” The psalmist well defines trust in this simple statement. In Hebrew poetry a statement, is often followed by the same truth stated in a different way, which serves as an interpretation or elaboration on the basic truth. To trust in the Lord is to lean on Him rather than upon your own self-sufficiency. To trust is to depend upon, to place confidence in, to commit something or someone to the care of another. To trust someone is to rely upon that person. It is impossible to live without trust. Everyone, knowingly or not, trusts something or someone.
Since trust must always be based on performance, only God deserves our ultimate trust. Only He has never failed. Faith itself is the decision to trust Christ as Lord and Savior, to trust Him with your life. Faith is a daily “trusting” of yourself to Him in an ever-enlarging circle; every day you put more of your life in God’s hands. Indeed, the ingredients of happiness require the trusting of God in every area of life. Since we are mortals, we have to stand in the shadow of someone larger than we. There is only one whose shadow complements rather than fragments us; God is the only one who allows our identity to be magnified rather than obliterated. To trust in the Lord is to stand in His shadow, which is “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isa. 32:2).
To be sure, we must not only learn to trust God, but we must learn how to trust other human beings who are important to us. God is perfect. Everyone else we know is not. Therefore we need some guidelines, first of all, on how to trust God, and second on how to trust the people around us who are important to us. Since all human trust must be an outgrowth of our trust in the heavenly Father, we shall first deal with our basic trust toward the Lord.
Trust God for Your Spiritual Needs
One of the great truths of the Scripture is that, in Christ; we have been adopted by the heavenly Father. Though we live in a world of displaced and lonely people, we live with assurance because we are a part of God’s family. Out of this new relationship we draw our confidence: “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). The word “Abba” was a tender term used by children and could well be translated, “Daddy.”
After the journey of faith has begun, we learn to trust our heavenly Father. He looks upon us as His children, and He promises to watch over us with a power that knows no limits. We can say with the apostle Paul: “Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). What God begins He will complete.
We have many spiritual needs. We need forgiveness. We need a certainty about our eternal destination. We need help for the present problems of life. However, since we cannot erase our memories, there are times when our sins come back to haunt us and we wonder if indeed forgiveness is truly ours. There are times when our own human weakness leads us astray and we wonder if we really have become children of God.
While working on an Indian reservation directing vacation Bible schools and other such projects, our young people felt a real spiritual high. The whole project had been a great blessing to them. In the midst of those moments when emotions ran high, one of them asked our youth minister, “What are we going to do when we get back home? How will we keep this high so that we won’t feel a letdown?” This brings up another question: Should a Christian feel victorious and deliriously happy every day of his life? While on the mission tour, the young people felt great assurance. Trust was easy. But they knew that when they came back home their feelings would cool off. Did this mean that their assurance would vanish with their enthusiasm?
Here we need to come to grips with an important truth. Trust cannot be based on feelings, because so many things affect the way we feel. Our feelings are affected by the weather, by what other people say, by what we do, by our own mistakes, by our health, and by a thousand other things. If we are able to trust God only when our feelings are exactly right, we shall be miserable most of our lives.
Trust in God must instead be based on facts. Feelings change. Facts do not. If we live by feelings, there will be times when we doubt our salvation, doubt that we are adopted into God’s family. In an effort to speak to this problem, the apostle John writes: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:13). The facts of the Scripture are given to us to bring us assurance, and to deliver us from the frailty of our feelings. Listen again to the apostle John: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12). Notice that feeling is not mentioned. It is a fact that our salvation is a gift of God. It is a fact that we were adopted by God, and are kept by God (1 Pet. 1:5).
Trust can be experienced in spite of doubts, in the midst of doubts. The opposite of trust is not doubt. You can trust even amid doubts if you decide to do so. The Scripture tells us about one person who cried out: “Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” He was trusting in spite of his doubts. The opposite of trust is emotional anxiety that clings, knots up, smothers, suspects, and fears. Jesus had this in mind when He warned: “Therefore be not anxious about tomorrow” (Matt. 6:34, my translation). To live, one must turn loose and trust God.
When we determine not to trust our feelings, but to trust God instead; we are simply facing our world realistically. We must recognize that we can’t laugh all the time. We can’t be healthy all the time. We can’t be successful all the time. But we can decide to place our trust in God. We can decide to trust Him based on the fact that everything is in His hands. We may make wrong choices, we may regret certain deeds, we may fail in many areas, but God will not fail. God is not some kind of celestial “ski lift” who carries us to the top of a mountain every day so we can have the exhilarating joy of skiing downhill. But He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that His grace will be sufficient for every occasion.
Hebrews 11 describes the faithful people of biblical times. (Note that it, too, has nothing at all to say about feelings.) These people are held up as examples because they made decisions to trust God. They acted in spite of their doubts, not because they had none. Abraham must have had many doubts when God asked him to pull up his roots and follow Him into an unknown world. Moses must have had many doubts as God led him, first to forsake the throne of Egypt which could well have been his, and next to confront Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of bondage. Yet, the great men and women of faith acted in the midst of their doubts. They decided to exercise trust. We, too, can decide to trust, and so participate in the divine plan of history.
Once we decide to trust we can allow feelings to take care of themselves. Geoffrey Hoyland, in speaking of the importance of a quiet devotional time each day, calls it a “living silence.” He reminds us that it is not easy to develop this kind of quiet in which we can accept the divine gift. However, he warns about relying on our feelings: “Above all we must avoid measuring the success of our communion by the emotional ‘kick’ we get out of it. Even if our emotions do not indicate that God is present, we know because of the promises of the Scripture that we belong to God and He belongs to us; we give ourselves to Him and He gives Himself to us, and there are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it.”
When we are learning to trust God for our salvation, we must beware of stereotyping religious conversion. Recently I received a tragic letter from a troubled woman with many doubts. For five or six pages she shared different experiences in her search to place her faith in Jesus Christ. Each time, something her husband, or her pastor, or one of her friends had told her made her believe that she had never indeed placed her trust in God. In my response to her letter I tried to explain to her that God is not a master of hocus pocus. He does not perform some sleight of hand. He is not trying to deceive us. There are no secret bywords or formulas, which must be stated exactly in order for us to become part of God’s family. We come to Christ in childlike faith, with surrendered hearts and repentant spirits. The way that happens may depend upon the circumstances and upon our own personalities. P.T. Forsythe said he was converted the day he realized he was the object of God’s grace. The Scripture tells us that Zacchaeus was up in a tree watching a parade when Christ looked up into the branches and asked him to come down. Zacchaeus responded as directed, and his life was changed. The thief on the cross merely asked, “Remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom.” There are no set words which must be said. God simply calls us to come and walk by faith. Once we have made that decision, He calls us to walk daily by the same kind of faith. To do this we must learn to trust Him, to trust His promises of deliverance, His promises of forgiveness, His promises of divine providence. All is in His hands. We can decide to trust Him. And once we decide to accept the fact that everything depends on God, and that we can trust Him, we can relax. The basic decision has been made. Having learned that simple fact of trust, we can now enlarge the circle of trust until it includes every area of our lives.
Trust God for Your Success
Each of us is afraid that somehow we are going to miss something in life. We are afraid that we will not accomplish what we should. We are afraid that we will fail. As long as we are convinced that everything depends on us, that we must climb to the top of the heap by our own strength, we will be frustrated and fearful. Not only that, but our whole idea about success will be twisted.
At one time, I felt great frustrations in terms of my own success as a pastor. I had set out certain goals which I planned to reach, certain attainments which I felt should be mine, and when I was not experiencing them I began to be tormented by that inner hollowness that comes when one feels he is a failure. I shall never forget the release that came to my life and has stayed with me since, when I finally turned my future over to God. The best I knew how, I exercised trust in that area. I quietly told the Lord that I was willing to stay exactly where I was for the rest of my life if that’s where He felt my life could best count. I began to accept where I was, and what I was. Since that time, God has led me in many new paths and blessed me with an inner joy greater than I ever thought possible. I still look back to that time as the moment when I genuinely began to trust God with my future, whatever He chose to make of it.
The truth of the matter is, success is found not in promotions or popularity, but in becoming the kind of person God wants us to be. Once we do that, He will open whatever doors are necessary to allow us to perform the basic task He has for us. But we must exercise trust.
One of the strengths of the apostle Paul is that he learned to have this kind of trust. When he was in jail at Rome, no longer able to preach publicly, no longer able to make missionary journeys, he could, easily have become depressed and despairing. But Paul knew the secret of trusting God. He wrote to the Christians at Philippi and affirmed: “The things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). He went on to explain that because of his imprisonment he had opportunity to share the gospel with the choice bodyguards of Caesar himself. Moreover, his imprisonment had caused many of the other Christians to become more ardent in their own activities to share the good news of the gospel of Christ. On this basis, Paul was assured that everything that was happening was a part of God’s divine order. And we know that apart from Paul’s imprisonment, many of the letters of the New Testament would never have been written: he wrote them while in chains. The rest of the world has been blessed because his life was circumscribed by a cell.
Pilgrim’s Progress would never have been written if John Bunyan, the faithful preacher, had not been imprisoned for years in Bedford jail. The volume for which he is best remembered would never have been penned without his difficult moments. We have no way of knowing what “success” will be in our lives. We have to trust God’s wisdom and power to bring it to pass. As Shakespeare observed, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”
Or take the example of Joseph, as described in Genesis. As a lad, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He found himself in faraway Egypt, the slave of another man. Yet the day came when Joseph was second-in-command to Pharaoh himself. After many years, a drought caused Joseph’s brothers to come into Egypt searching for food. Joseph was then in a position to provide food for them, and beyond that, to bring them and his father down into Egypt where they could have plenty to eat. The time came when Joseph explained to his brothers why he held no bitterness for them: “As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20).
God has the power to take even the evil that is worked against us, and turn it into good. He has the power to bring good out of every circumstance in the lives of those who trust Him (Rom. 8:28). This means that even if our deepest prayers about our personal success are not answered, as we desire, God has a different answer because He, better than we, knows what success for us involves. The words of an anonymous author express this poignantly:
He prayed for strength that he might achieve; He was made weak that he might obey.
He prayed for health that he might do greater things; He was given infirmity that he might do better things.
He prayed for riches that he might be happy; He was given poverty that he might be wise.
He prayed for power that he might have the praise of men; He was given infirmity that he might feel the need of God.
He prayed for all things that he might enjoy life; He was given life that he might enjoy all things.
He received nothing that he asked for – all that he hoped for; His prayer was answered – he was most blessed.2
Success, simply stated, is becoming the person God has made it possible for you to be.
Several years ago, McCall’s carried a lovely story by Marjorie Williams entitled “The Velveteen Rabbit.” A velveteen rabbit was given to a little boy one Christmas morning along with many other toys. The mechanical toys seemed to feel especially superior and were quite sure they were real because they had springs and could move. The rabbit, desiring to feel real also, asked the oldest and wisest toy, the skin horse, “What is real? Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
The horse answered, “Real isn’t how you’re made, it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, then you become real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the horse, but when you’re real, you don’t mind being hurt.
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints, and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
As time passed, the velveteen rabbit was loved by the boy, was left outside in the dew, was dragged around the garden, and did indeed become very shabby. The day came when the nurse tried to throw the bunny away, but the boy cried, “You can’t do that. He isn’t a toy; he’s real.” The bunny shivered with joy for he realized that the nursery magic had happened to him. At last he was real!
It is because of God’s love that we become real persons. Out of the wholeness thus bestowed on us, we learn to trust our heavenly Father with the method by which He makes us real, and with the circumstances that surround that process.
Trust God with Your Personal Relationships
Once we have decided to trust God with everything, we can allow that trust to overflow, so that we can begin a healthy trust in all of our human relationships. In other words, we can begin a healthy spirit of trust toward those who are close to us. If your life has been shattered, trust God to help you build a new life. Then exhibit that trust in an ever-growing way. Go out among people again, trusting God to lead you to new friends. Look for a new job, if the old one has failed, trusting God. I’m not suggesting a naïve childishness, but a basic, realistic attitude of trust toward others that operates out of an all-encompassing trust of God.
“Trust me!” says the teenager to her mother as she asks for the privilege of going on a weekend trip with a group of other teenagers, unchaperoned. How do we deal with such situations when they confront us?
First of all, we must realize that trust must be deserved, earned by past performance. We trust God because of His perfect past record of faithfulness. Where our children are concerned, we have to exercise the principle of limited trust in accordance with their ability to face the temptations involved. A boxing manager who cares about his fighter does not match him against just anyone, but rather he carefully selects the opponents lest he prematurely destroy his own man. It is not that the manager does not trust his fighter. But he realizes that trust must be wisely expressed. It is uncaring to place too heavy a burden of trust upon someone else, especially upon one of our children. They must not be thrust too quickly into new situations for which they are unprepared. There is a foolish “trust” that is not trust at all. But as we trust our children in an ever-enlarging circle, we come at last to the time when they are adults, when they leave the nest, and we can trust them with everything. Until that moment, we allow them to participate in the matter of trust, to earn it gradually. This is the fearsome part of being a parent. One has to gradually turn loose of his child until at last the parent becomes totally unnecessary.
If we are wise, we deal with ourselves the same way. There are some things that we should not pit ourselves against. There are some temptations which each of us should avoid. This is not to distrust oneself, but rather it is trusting one’s common sense, one’s intuition, one’s conscience. As a rule, you will know ahead of time of an event or situation may cause you to betray the trust someone else has placed in you. If so, avoid that situation at all costs.
The matter of trust enters vitally into the marriage relationship. If marriage is to fulfill God’s plan, there must be trust involved. What happens when either the husband or the wife betrays the marriage trust? A woman who had discovered her husband had been unfaithful to her once said to me, “How can I ever trust him again?” He had begged her forgiveness and had pledged his future faithfulness. The problem was, could she trust him again? Perhaps the more pointed question is, how would she be able to extend trust to him again?
Since trust between human beings is something which must be earned, we have difficulty understanding how we can trust someone who has betrayed us. However, we must keep in mind that a part of the unfaithful husband’s track record was the fact that he had earnestly repented. He recognized that he would have to begin to prove himself trustworthy. The relationship of trust would have to be built up afresh, reconstructed a block at a time. But forgiveness requires us to begin anew a project of trust.
We must keep in mind that all human trust is limited. We have to trust those nearest to us, those who mean something to us, with the awareness of human frailty. This allows us to exhibit human trust without being destroyed if that trust is broken. The wife must either make a decision to extend trust again to her husband, or sever the relationship entirely. It is impossible for a man and his wife to live together in marriage apart from trust.
Some people try to live like the old woman who lived in the shoe. Imagine her having a picnic with her children and trying to hold the hand of each of them every moment. It can’t be done. Trust is turning loose so there can be freedom, joy, and individuality. Some of the old woman’s children may get in the mud hole, some may climb trees and fall out – but the only way to avoid those things is to cancel the picnic.
The basic decision is simple. You must either relax and trust those who are important to you, or you will smother them with accusations, suspicions, and over-protectiveness. To turn loose is to allow the other person to be himself. Human trust is not based on the perfection of the other person, but on the realization that trust is vital for all relationships. The home is a place where lives are intertwined, but they must never be merged. As Kahlil Gibran wrote:
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
But let each one of you be alone
Even as the strings of a lute are alone;
Though they quiver with the same music.
Stand together yet not too near together;
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.3
Trust is allowing the other person the right of imperfection, and the right to grow, and the right to develop as a person. There is a sense in which even our trust of God must have something of this dimension. We come to our heavenly Father with our prayers and our requests, and this is well. The Bible indicates that we can come to Him and ask for those things which are on our heart. However, we must always allow God to be free to be Himself – free to be God as He wills, not as we will. Robert Ball observes that even Christ, in His prayers, left the Father free to be the Father. In Gethsemane, Christ shared His innermost feelings with the Father, His agony of soul, but He concluded His prayer by saying, “Nevertheless, not My will but thine be done.” He thereby left the way open which allowed God to be God. He made no demands. Perhaps that is one of the highest kinds of prayer that we can offer.4
And so we must learn to trust God with all our human relationships. Because we are secure in His hand, we dare to trust others with the knowledge that sometimes they disappoint us. We do so with the knowledge that God’s overriding providence will sustain us even when others fail us. When we trust our teenager, or our spouse, we are also trusting God to fill in the gap. Every act of trust reaches out beyond the human dimension and lays hold on the promises of God’s watch-care. We cannot trust ourselves, or others, in isolation. But our trust is based on a relationship to God.
We cannot grow in human relationships apart from trust. Neither can our loved ones grow and develop apart from our trust in them. We recognize that because God trusts us we have been free to become ourselves. Out of the overflow of His trust extended to us in Jesus Christ, we share that trust in our relationships with others. God has called us His children, given us His name, in trust. There are times when we fail Him, times when we even disgrace Him, but He still calls us His. In those tragic times when human trust has been exhausted, we will trust God to lead us to new relationships where trust can exist. We dare not withdraw all trust, isolate ourselves, or grow a hard shell. If we do that we shall die. We cannot live without trust.
Trust God with Your Health
Of course, each of us has a responsibility to follow the rules of health. We should strive to rid ourselves of harmful habits. In short, we should do everything we can to be healthy, to use properly the body which God has given us. Beyond that, we need to leave the rest with God, in trust. The alternative is to become a hypochondriac who is convinced that he has every symptom of every disease. We can rest assured that God will either give us good health, or the grace to bear sickness.
To trust God with your health does not mean that you will always be in perfect health. Neither should we suppose that sickness is some punishment for our lack of trust. When illness comes, we need to recognize that God may choose to miraculously heal us, or He may not. In either case, His decision is not based upon the level of our faith. Rather, it will be decided according to His divine purposes. Those who promise divine healing to anyone, whose faith is sufficient, greatly misread the Scriptures.
The apostle Paul, one of the most faithful men in the Scriptures, lived most of his life with a chronic illness which he referred to as his “thorn in the flesh.” We are not told exactly what his illness was, but we do know that at periods it became rather severe. He tells us that on three separate occasions he made a special appeal to God for divine healing. Yet this man of faith was not healed. God’s answer to his prayer was not a miracle, but a promise: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Let me share with you my simple definition of grace. Grace is God’s offer of Himself. To redeem us from our sins, God offered Himself in Jesus Christ on the cross. In times of trial or illness, God’s gift of Himself, His holy presence, enables us to hear whatever pain is ours. The apostle Paul learned that he could trust God with his health. Indeed he found a new depth in his relationship with the Father because of his illness. And so, we hear the apostle say: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). We must be careful not to misconstrue what the apostle is saying. He is not happy about his sickness. Rather, he is happy in spite of his sickness, in the midst of his sickness, for he has found Christ to be sufficient.
George Matheson, the noted poet and man of God, lost his sight as a youth and spent forty years in darkness. With God’s help he learned to live in that darkness, but more than that, he learned to make use of his handicap. Notice the way he described his own victory:
My God, I have never thanked thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee one thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I never thought of my cross as a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross. Teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have been my rainbow.5
Russell Henry Stafford is right when he says: “Nothing is too good to be true, and nothing bad is final.” On the basis of such a promise, we can trust God with our health. When Job’s afflictions first began, he kept knocking at heaven’s door asking, “Why, why, why?” However, his pilgrimage of pain brought him at last to the place where he realized he was asking the wrong question. He came to recognize that the proper response was to ask, “How?” In other words, we need to ask God how we can best respond to our health, or lack of it. The key to life is our response. Everyone has problems. Everyone has sickness. The important thing is that we ask God how He would have us deal with it. The very center of our response must be trust. God knows what our destiny is. He knows what He would have us accomplish in life. Therefore we can trust Him with the details.
Trust God Beyond Life
As we repeatedly make decisions to trust God in new areas of our life, we shall continually discover that He is trustworthy, and we will therefore be able to come to the time when we can trust Him beyond this life. As we learn to trust Him in the smaller storms, we can trust Him when that final storm besieges us. We must do so with the recognition that faith does not necessarily still the raging winds. Rather, we must trust God in their midst.
On one occasion, Jesus was in a small boat with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. A sudden storm swept down upon the small lake while Jesus was asleep. The disciples excitedly awakened Him saying, “Lord save us; we perish.” Jesus’ response was a rebuke: “Why are ye fearful, oh ye of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26). Literally, Jesus called them “little-faiths.” They had not yet come to the place where they recognized that His presence with them was enough. They had not yet learned that there is no defeat – not even in death – for those who walk with Christ. Jesus was trying to tell them (and us), “Even if the ship sinks, or the tumor is malignant, or the crash is fatal, you are with Him who holds the universe together, in whose hand is all of life and eternity.”6
We would do well to learn from the young boy, whose father heard him saying, “If you only knew what I know; if you only knew what I know.” Curious, the father went into the boy’s room to find out what was going on. The answer was simple. The youngster was reading a Wild West thriller. He had gotten toward the middle of the book where the plot was thicker and darker with each page and the hero was being abused and disgraced. The gloating villain was winning at every point. At last the youngster could stand it no longer so he turned to the last page of the book to see how the story would turn out. It was there he saw the hero vindicated while the villain was properly punished. Then the youngster went back to the middle of the story where he was able to read it with a peaceful enjoyment. But he could not help saying every now and then, as though he were talking to the villain, “If you only knew what I know.”7
We rest in the assurance that death itself has been defeated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel is that there is a dimension beyond this present world, an eternity where all things are made new.
Roy Pierson, in discussing the resurrection, observes that Michelangelo would never bomb the Sistine Chapel which contained his frescoes, that Robert Burns would never burn his heartrending songs, that Homer would never throw his Odyssey into the sea, that even a poor mountaineer would never destroy the home he had labored years in building. Pierson thus concludes that God would never destroy His best work just when He has begun to use it. This would be like a father leading his children over a long, hard road that leads toward home, affirming his love for them, but planning to kill them all the same before they ever saw the light of home. This, he affirms, would be the picture of God unless He lifts us from the grave.8
The certainty of God’s providence sheds a new light on birth and death. T. S. Eliot, in “Little Gidding,” wrote:
What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. From the Christian stance, life is more than the brief moments between birth and death. Indeed, death is the beginning, the “end we start from.’’ The final chapter belongs to God. The victory is His.9
Since the Scripture speaks of heaven as a place where God makes “all things new”, we can look upon death as God’s final healing. In his poem, “The Widow and the Bye Street,” John Masefield describes a tragic scene. A little mother, numbed by the anguish of her helplessness and the sense of her failure, watches the execution of her young son who has committed crimes against the state. As the trap door opens and the rope snatches away the son’s life, the sobbing mother crumples to the ground and those nearby hear her speak of “broken things, too broke to mend.” Life has a way of coming to that. Eventually, circumstances arrive which leave us with “things too broke to mend.” At this point death becomes God’s touch, which heals all our diseases. The resurrection mends all things that have been committed in trust to Jesus Christ.
We really can trust God with everything. He is awake while we sleep. We are blind, but He sees all things. There is no limit to His power. He loves more than we love, cares more than we care. He can salvage good out of everything that happens.
We must make the decision to live in an attitude of trust. The tight-fisted, tensed up lifestyle is one of the curses of the twentieth century. Trust is an attitude of relaxing your hold on everything, releasing your grip on the future and beginning to live in the freedom our Lord offers. This means you can resign as general manager of the universe and let God work out the details of the endless maze through which you must pass. Since you cannot by anxious fretting add one day to your life, the more appropriate approach is to live in trust.
Just as we learn to worry, to be anxious, and to live knotted up lives, so can we learn to turn loose and trust. Let me suggest that you take God at His word on small matters and work your way up. Begin with those things which to you seem to be more tangible.
What He does promise is that a new dimension of blessing will come into your life – blessing from heaven itself. Try this over a period of time. I’m convinced that you will experience a new dimension of life. This will encourage you to place even deeper trust in God.
Or, try going the second mile in one of your personal relationships and see if you do not notice a difference both in yourself and in the other person. If you are worrying about someone over whom you really have no control, try committing him or her in a definite way to the Lord. Make this a real matter of trust. See if you do not have a new sense of peace, even though the danger which concerns you may still exist. Make a list of those things which you have difficulty submitting to God in trust, and determine to take them one at a time, and make the decision to leave them at His throne of grace.
Then, give yourself to life, to living, as one released from chains and go forward in trust. When King George VI addressed the people of Britain at Christmas time in 1939, the future was dark. The early throes of World War II had engulfed his land. When he came to the microphones of the British Broadcasting System, he used the beautiful words of Minnie Louise Haskins to inspire his people to a new level of faith and trust. I share them now with you, that they may strengthen your heart, attract your focus to Him who stands above the storms, and encourage you to follow in trust God’s path of happiness:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown!”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” 10
1 Elizabeth O’Connor, Search for Silence (Waco, Texas Word Books, 1972), page 133.
2 In “Prayer Poems,” compiled by O.V. and Helen Armstrong (Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, Nashville, 1942), by Whitmore and Stone.
3 Kahlil Gibrain, The Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951), pages 15-16.
4 Robert R. Ball, The “I Feel” Formula (Waco, Tex. Word Books Publishers, 1977), pages 93-94
5 Christianity Today (November 8, 1963), page 54.
6 B.W. Woods, Understanding Suffering (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), page 142.
7 Pulpit Digest (January-February, 1977), page 31.
8 Rov Pierson, The Believer’s Unbelief (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1963), page 156, quoting Arthur Wentwood Hewitt, Jerusalem the Golden, pages 105-107.
9 Helmut Thielicke, I Believe (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), page 202ff.
10 Ralph Murray, From the Beginning (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1964), page 129, quoting Minnie Louise Haskins, “The Gate of the Year,” Masterpieces of Religious Verse, page 92.
B.W. Wood, 1978, Baker Book House Company