Faith General

The Problem with Trusting God

Maybe I’m the only one who has this problem, but the biggest issue I have with trusting God is me letting go. I want control. To be in charge, to make the plan, know the plan and execute the plan.  Reality is, that’s not the way trust works. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV says

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Trust means a 100% relinquishing of my life-my inner man, my heart to God. When I lean on my own understanding I have a very finite view of things. It’s like having a limited street view, where I see barely what’s around the next bend when God has drone view. His perspective is far superior to mine, hands down.

The Day I almost Drowned

Several years ago, I was having weird chest pains. In fact, that summer, I almost drowned in a lake while on a Canadian hiking trip with my son and son-in-law. The cold water constricted my arteries such that I lost all strength and was sinking fast! I could barely call out my son’s name, Justin! With water literally at my mouth, I honestly figured that was the end of my life on Planet Earth. By the grace of God, I felt someone reach under my armpits and lift me on to an exposed boulder in the lake. My son saved my life! That trip was emotionally taxing. The near-drowning raised a lot of questions as to how much I really control. Medical follow-ups led to open heart surgery six months later. A quadruple bypass will shake anyone’s life. One’s mortality comes into view. Why am I here?

Recently, my cardiologist decided I needed another heart catheterization procedure. It gives a live view of the heart; revealing anomalies like blockages. A pre-test revealed I might have more blockages. If so, they could be addressed by adding stents or another open heart surgery. Over the past several years since my heart bypass surgery, I’ve changed my lifestyle: more cardio exercise, healthier diet. Learning to chillax more. Preparing for my heart cath gave me moments of anxiety. Fear. Questions. It woke me up several times during the nights prior to the procedure. Will this procedure find problems that need another open heart surgery? Will it mean another 6-7 weeks off work? Needless to say, I was gripped at times by the fear of the unknown. Jokingly, I told a few friends I know God has the pen and is writing the script of my life, but just for a moment, could I borrow it back and jot in a few of my own plans?!  Life doesn’t work that way. Anxiety is me trying harder instead of yielding to God’s way for my life.

The Benefit of Trusting God

My heart catheterization procedure revealed one of the original bypasses broke down. Instead of a stent or more surgery, my cardiologist decided it could be handled by medications. Honestly, the news was welcomed with thankfulness. My wife hugged the doctor! Regardless of the outcome, even if it meant more surgery, God would still be just as much at work in the midst of what seems like an arduous journey. Him, using what I face in my body and soul to shape me into a man after His likeness. Not perfectly, but increasingly so. Trusting God isn’t easy, but it always leads to hope. A pastor-friend described the difference between Job’s trust in God and David’s. Whereas both men trusted God amidst a boatload of troubles and trials, how they trusted God was different. Job trusted God to change the circumstances.  David trusted God even if the circumstances didn’t change.

When the Proverbs say: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, it’s not a negation of your mind or your sense of reason. Rather, it’s the humble admission you don’t have life all figured out. What you see or think you see isn’t all there is. In fact, if you see God at work in something, realize there are like 10,000 other things He is doing behind the scenes that you cannot see on your behalf.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths

The benefit of trusting God is that even if you can’t see all that is going on. Even if your circumstances don’t change, or in fact get worse, God is still working all things for greater purposes in your life than you could ask or imagine. If my heart cath procedure resulted in me being directly admitted to the hospital for another open heart surgery, as hard as that would be, God’s love and direction for my life would still be far better than me trying to figure it out on my own.  A straight path is not necessarily a carefree one. It’s a path God uses to shape my character-my eternal destiny, through His Son Jesus Christ. And, in such, God is most glorified.

Truth is when I have a problem trusting God, it’s more about my unwillingness to let go of control or having unrealistic expectations of God; as if God were my puppet to order around.

4 Ways to Grow in Trusting God

1. Admit you don’t have your act together as much as you’d like.  There is nothing like pride to think we are invincible. Warriors (ages 18-30) experience a lot of firsts. Wins and victories that give this false sense that they will beat all odds. Truth is the greatest strength a man can have is in humility. Recognize your proper place in the scheme of life.

2. Recognize God sees the big picture. He sees what you cannot.  Driving gives me a single perspective view of life. God sees everything. We see the backside of the puzzle that doesn’t always make sense. He sees the entire puzzle and it is magnificent; even if parts of the puzzle are perplexing.

3. Even if circumstances tank, acknowledge God has not left you. There is often a pit in the stomach when situations go off the cliff. What just happened?! I can’t believe this is going on? Disconnect the faulty thinking that God somehow abandons you when life sucks.

4. Look to God and His character more than you look to favorable circumstances. Circumstances change like a Kansas wind. One minute you think you are high and mighty because life is sweet. Your girlfriend said yes to your proposal. You got a promotion at work, Your new Stitchfix outfit puts you in the swag. Life couldn’t seem to get any better. God’s favor on you is no greater when life is good. His favor is constant regardless of the circumstances.

There is one caveat to this entire issue of trusting God. Repentance. Fighting God guarantees you lose. No one one-ups God. It’s the warrior that recognizes the once for all work of Jesus Christ on the cross, who chooses to yield his will to God’s that wins, even if on the surface, circumstances seem less than desirable.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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