Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Does Standing Still Have to do With Trusting God?

On average we hear up to 52 sermons a year. If we visit other churches or listen online that number could easily double or triple so, in any given year we hear a lot of truth.

Then, there is that one sermon, that marks us, shapes us, calls us to action and changes us forever. For me it was on Mother’s Day 2010.

I was visiting a church I had previously attended and the sermon was Trusting God. The scripture was:
This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:5-8
The kids and I had been studying Psalm 1 all year and it was not lost on me that this verse in Jeremiah linked trusting God to being like that tree planted by streams of water.

In my life when I struggled the most it usually stemmed from not trusting God. The pastor said, “The God who made all things, makes all things new.I needed to hear that then and now. We know it, but when fear comes, amnesia sets in.

He also said, “We run away from things in our life that would produce trust in us.” "Huh, you talking to me?," I I crawled under the seat. (click here to read Why I Quit Running)

When the Israelites were whining in the wilderness and telling Moses it would have been better to serve the Egyptians he said to them, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” - Exodus 14:13-14 He was essentially saying "Stand still, the Lord is about to do something that will produce trust in your life." The Lord is saying the same thing to us. "Stand still and let me show you I am trustworthy, let me show you that I AM the God who shows up and I can be trusted."

Running moved me out of a position to trust in God. I ran because things were scary and painful and I was afraid of pain, especially emotional. When I ran everything stayed the same (which was dysfunctionally comfortable), I could not see what God wanted to do and it produced more fear. Interesting how that happens, isn't it? The very thing that made me run was being strengthened by my running.

Running did not produce trust, 
it kept fear in place and reinforced my distrust.

It was a vicious cycle. So, I resigned myself to go through the fire or the pruning if you will and God has been faithful to do His part. Now seven years later, some of these truths are my reality and the running, well I gave that up.

There were many times during this sermon that I was deeply convicted because God was speaking directly to my heart and addressing the things that still kept me far from Him and who He called me to be. Before we left this church I began to trust so much in the church, pastors and people (of course I did not know I was doing this at the time), God had to take me out of there (a place I loved) and get me totally dependent on Him, so I would learn to trust Him and only Him (because He loved me). At the end of the service, do you know what God asked me to do? He asked me to go to the pastor and repent for placing my trust in him, the church and the people instead of God.

I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do.

I did it because the Lord asked.

I did it because it required trust.

Not many Sundays later the Lord released me to return to this place I loved, but only after recognizing and repenting for not trusting Him – it took a year and a half, but He's patient.
Learning to trust will produce the things in you that you need to survive any storm and walk through any fire. It will produce gratitude. It will produce joy. It will bring peace. - Tom Tanner
I did not know the storms I would walk through later that year, but I can say with complete confidence this one day, this one sermon, this one act of repentance produced trust in me that I needed to weather them. Not only did that produce trust, but an amazing amount of gratitude.

During the sermon the pastor asked a tough question, one that will get you thinking and one I think we'd be wise to keep close at hand:

Where do you go or to whom do you turn when it comes to meeting the deepest needs of your life?

Acceptance (knowing that you are cared for loved and wanted)
Security (knowing that you are safe, protected and provided for)
Identity (believing that you are special and significant)
Purpose (believing that you are put here for a reason)

All these needs are good, but we MUST go to God first!

Read the following exhortation that ended the sermon and it was the merry-go-round that was my life. I have come a long way, but still have room for improvement in the area of trust, but this sermon, on that day was a turning point for me and I have never looked back.
When we trust in people or we trust in things then our security is dependant upon someone or something that we cannot predict we cannot control and whose resources are limited and the result is inconsistency and frustration. One day we may feel good the next day we’ll feel bad the next day we’ll feel good the next day we’ll feel bad and that’s the way it works when you choose to trust in people or things for your security. When you choose to trust in people or things for your identity then you’re identity will come more than likely from one of two places either from what you do or what people say about you and both of those things will get you into trouble. Because your significance and your identity will depend on circumstances and responses that you can’t control.. When you depend on acceptance when you look to other people or things for acceptance your acceptance is based on gaining approval from others which leads to a life of performance. You will find that you will do just about anything to gain acceptance and in trying to gain acceptance you will in fact loose your identity. When you look to people or things for your purpose then your purpose becomes confused by changing circumstances and by the changing opinions of both your critics and your friends. When you trust in God and you look to Him for all of these things then your security is dependant upon one who is totally faithful and whose resources infinite unlimited. Your identity is found in one who will never fail you, never forsake you and who has pledged to love you forever. Your acceptance is found in one who knows you completely and loves you unconditionally. Your purpose is grounded and rooted in God’s plan for you, not man’s opinion of you. - Tom Tanner
I am still learning what this trust thing looks like, and I am committed to trusting God to continue to work this out in me. I trust in Him to walk alongside me on this journey and remove the things that hinder me trusting Him and place things in me that enhance me trusting Him. The good news is because I am trusting Him I don't have to figure this out, He will! Amen to that!

During the sermon the pastor asked this question, “Why did Peter warm his hands in the enemy's fire?” Mark 14:54 and the answer was, “because his hands were cold.” He had a real need, he just went to the wrong place to get his needs met, so it is with me and I for one am tired of warming my hands in enemy fire because I ALWAYS get burned!!!

Standing still,

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