A Lament: The Journey of Trust
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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I love how He gently calls us to turn our heads towards His voice…..and over and over gives us opportunities…to trust him…..again. I think if we let Him, He actually teaches us to trust…
Oh yes. Like a parent, he takes every opportunity to teach us.
“But Mary’s life had some very extreme moments, and it all started with her consent…” I have a love/hate relationship with this Free Will thing God has blessed/cursed us with. But in the end, it’s our choice to lie down in the pasture to rest, or continue to hobble around on our own strength. Too bad I hobble so much. Thanks for reminding me to make the right choice THEN trust anyway. Great thoughts to start today!
The thing is the sheep in the Psalm just do trust the shepherd. They lay down munching their cuds without a care in the world, knowing that the shepherd will care for them. Absolute trust. I want to be like that.
I love the line “seeking is an expression of trust”. How freeing your words and how true! When we are face with the situations that are far beyond are means to manage them, we finally get down to business with our beliefs and cry “Oh Lord, help!” We finally remember to go back to the foundation of our belief system and cling to it (Him) for all we are worth. Praise God that He doesn’t despise our moments of delay in seeking His aid but instead wraps His arms around us and tells us not to worry. He’s got our past, present and future in His hands and we are safe.
Thank you for your encouraging words!
I agree with you that He doesn’t despise our delay…it is freedom to know that despite our failures He continues to patiently love us.
I have often thought of Mary as such an example of seeking and trust, too. I can’t even conceive that I would be as open and willing at ~15 years old, because I knew everything then. 😉 Even when I think about the cultural differences between an American teen in the mid-80s and one in Mary’s time, it still doesn’t compute. God sure chose right, and equipped her with all she needed. But she had her part, too. And every time I read her Magnificat, I’m amazed. May it always be so.
I think you’re spot on. Seeking is an act of trust and faith. It’s the tangible part of our effort, if you will. As a baby seeks and roots around for milk, s/he knows s/he’s hungry, and the movement towards satiety is filled with the trust that indeed a breast or bottle will come soon.
Thank you for this thought provoking post, Becky.
You always come up with such great examples, Gretchen!!! Thanks!
This post made me think of my kids (well young adults now) and their absolute trust and faith in me (most days) even though I had no qualifications and training to be a Mom.
And here we are, blessed with this Heavenly Father, who is more qualified than we’ll ever know and imagine- yet sometimes it’s so hard to trust in His plan.
“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.” That’s the stuff right there, seeking Him always, through all things.
I remember years ago having the actual thought, “If I don’t seek God any further, if I don’t deepen my relationship with him any more, then I can stay right here in this comfortable place.” I hadn’t gotten to the place where I could trust him. I still find myself in that place at times, but he has taught me so much in the past several years. And yet I tend to forget sometimes.
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24b Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?