How far can I trust God? Some days, I realize sadly, not too far.
Life has a way of kicking me off my complacent butt, and opening my eyes to the reality that my ability to fully trust God is challenged. Today I entered into my prayer time on weak knees, and the scripture reading was Psalm 23. It is a Psalm I have been trying to embrace in my life. This Psalm speaks of the confidence the sheep have with their Shepherd; the total trust they have in him. The Shepherd is everything to the sheep. The sheep know him as the Provider and Protector, the One who will not neglect them, because he is Good. They are so trusting in the Shepherd that they can pause in their ever munching ways to lie down and take a nap.
My thoughts began to naturally flow towards Mary as an example of trust. An angel visits her and tells her of God’s plans. He invites her to be part of those plans. She does push back a little bit, but soon she says:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” ~ Luke 1:38
Looking over Mary’s life after that meeting, I imagine the first couple of years must have been pretty tough. Unmarried and pregnant, she was a sitting duck for any who would want to stone her for being an adulteress. After God visits him in a dream, Joseph finally comes through and takes Mary under his protection as his wife. Soon she delivers Jesus, after which they need to quickly depart for a foreign land to live safely away from Herod’s reach. They left family, friends, and the tradition of practicing their faith within the comforting circle of a Jewish community.
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In the end, good came from it all. Jesus came back and his purposes were revealed. But Mary’s life had some very extreme moments, and it all started with her consent, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” I wonder how often she looked back and thought of those words.
After all these years of living within the circle of this Christian faith, I still hesitate from saying her words. I know that they are full of promise, but I also know they are full of possible pain. I am every Christian who has experienced deep sorrow, betrayal, and loss. I’ve become gun-shy in some ways, trying to shield myself from the arrows of this life. Rather than Mary, I am more like Teresa of Avila who is said to say, “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!”
Yet I am convinced that Mary never regretted her words.
While some moments in my life have been deeply painful, they have also been the most intense in my relationship with my God. Every one of those moments have found me seeking him more desperately. I have clung to him, cried out to him, and looked for him, unwittingly, expecting him to send relief and cause a miracle to happen in my favor. Truly, often he has. And more often like this:
Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us… ~ Ephesians 3:20 AMP
Why, then, do I hesitate to trust God when disappointments and heartache come my way, when trusting Him often allows me to witness miracles and the working of his power in my circumstances?
I’m beginning to think that seeking is an expression of trust.
When my feelings fail me, when I am confronted with hard circumstances, when I begin to falter in my ability to trust God as being the Good Shepherd, where do I turn?
Back to the God who I know is my only hope.
How far can I trust God? There is nothing else I can do but seek his face. He is my Good Shepherd who cares for me.
“And call upon (seek) me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” ~ Psalm 50:15 ESV
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