I Really Trust God?
Tonight as we consider our
fourth question of faith let me remind you of the first three
questions we've addressed: " Who is Jesus Christ? " Why am I
not where I want to be? " What happens when I die? The answer
to each of these questions has a common thread that weaves
through and around them, and that thread is our willingness to
trust God. Can I trust what God says about Jesus, Can I trust
that God will help me go down the right path, can I trust that
God will resurrect me after I die if I have faith in Jesus
So tonight we will explore
the issue of trust by addressing the question, can I really
Trust was the big issue
facing Moses on Mt. Sinai (Horeb), was it not? First he had to
trust that what he was seeing, a burning bush not being
consumed by fire, was real, then he had to trust that the
voice he heard was God, and as our reading concludes Moses
then had to trust that God would be with him as he confronted
And we too are confronted
with issues of trusting God individually and as a church
family. I'm sure we all have our individual stories of how we
have had to trust God to pull us through difficult times, or
to provide for us in times of need.
And as a church family we too
have placed our trust in God over the past couple of years as
we have moved from a part-time two-point charge, to a
full-time two-point charge, and now to a full-time charge.
We've also started new
ministries, a new worship service, and we've reorganized the
church around a mission of worship, spiritual growth, and
making and equipping disciples. We couldn't have done any of
this if we didn't trust that God would provide what we needed
when we needed it.
And yet with all the examples
we each could cite of trusting God in our personal lives, and
the examples we can cite from our experiences as part of this
congregation, we still often times struggle with trusting God.
Why is this? Well, when we talk about trust we also have to
talk about control. So when we struggle with trust issues what
we're most often struggling with is control. We don't mind
trusting others and trusting God as long as we feel we still
have some control of what's going on. Isn't this true? If
trust requires giving up complete control we have difficulty
with that. Yet giving up control and placing our whole trust
in God is what God tells us we must do.
Well let me push this issue
of trust and control a little harder. Back in 1992 there was
an atheist in Austin, Texas who was marching around a
convention center with a sign that said, "In God we trust,
This gentlemen was following
the fad of those days of negating a statement by tagging "not"
on the end of it. This atheist was also demonstrating what we
do as Christians as well. We pledge our allegiance to God but
reserve the right to tag on, "Not!"
"God, I trust you with my
business affairs, Not!" "Lord, I give you control of by life,
Not!" "Father, please be the God of our home, Not!"
The truth is, thanks to an
atheist, we may better understand trust, and our lack of it.
Back in 1980 I was stationed
on the USS Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier in the Persian
Gulf. One day we received a request from the USS South
Carolina a cruiser in our battle group that they were having
some mechanical problems and asked if we could send some help.
I was selected to be part of
a team to go over to the South Carolina. We were later told
that we'd be taken over by helicopter. Little did I know that
the helicopter was to large to land on the smaller cruiser and
that we would be lowered by cable onto its deck.
So we hovered over the
cruiser and each member of the team began to be lowered onto
the deck of the ship. And before too long it was my turn to be
lowered down. Now I'm not a big fan of heights so before I got
into the harness I said a brief prayer to myself and hoped for
As I was being lowered a
strong wind came up all of a sudden and moved the helicopter
dangerously close to the ships antenna array, so the
helicopter quickly turned away and now I was dangling over the
ocean, hanging from a cable swaying back and forth.
I've never felt so helpless
and out of control of a situation in my life. There was
nothing I could do, short of yelling, which I'm sure I did,
and I probably promised God all kinds of things if he would
just get me on the deck of that cruiser safely. I had no
control of the situation, as soon as I stepped into the
harness I gave up control, I had to trust the helicopter pilot
and the guy lowering me down to the deck. All I could do was
hang on until they finally hovered back over the cruiser and
lowered me onto the deck.
Well, I think surrendering to
God can sometimes feel like this. We hang there, sometimes
swinging in the wind, not knowing what to do, not knowing if
we can trust God to lead us, or to tell us what direction to
move in. And being in this kind of situation can be
uncomfortable and seem unnatural to us.
Trusting God also becomes
hard when we are going through a difficult time. Sometimes we
feel as if we're at the mercy of random events - from car
accidents to losing our jobs due to down sizing, from
unexpected pregnancies to acts of terrorism. And from time to
time we encounter, or see others experience, more misery and
pain then anyone person deserves. Why would we want to place
our trust in God when he allows these things to happen?
Yet as Christians we refuse
to believe that history is merely random. Beneath the apparent
disorder of our lives and the chaos throughout the world, God
has a plan that endows human history with meaning and purpose.
As Christians we believe this to be true. When I consider my
own life, and when I have felt most challenged and tested to
trust God it most often was in those times of tragedy,
unexplained suffering, and undo hardship.
But as we've discussed before
being Christian doesn't immune us from such events. The Bible
describes such times as the groans of creation (Romans 8:22).
These groans emerge from illness, natural disasters, and other
sources beyond human control. And frequently our suffering is
a result of tragic human choices, not divine intervention.
Often times the greatest hurt
in our lives comes not from what others do to us, but from
what we do to ourselves. Human sin typically leads to
suffering, not because God is punishing us, but because we've
lost our way, and have decided to place our trust in things
not of God.
God created us to share in a
unique relationship with our creator, but often times we chose
to cut ourselves off from our life source. We're disconnected
from the persons were meant to become, and this weakens our
relationships to other people and to the world.
There's a story of the only
survivor of a shipwreck who was washed up on a small,
uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue
him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none
seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build
a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the
elements, and to store his few possessions.
But then one day, after
scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in
flames, the smoke billowing up to the sky. The worst had
happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and
anger. "God I trusted you to protect me, how could you do this
to me!" he cried.
Early the next day, however,
he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching
the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was
here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke
signal," they replied.
You see it's easy to get
discouraged when things are going bad, it's easy to lose our
faith and trust in God. But we shouldn't lose heart, because
God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and
suffering. Remember, the next time your little hut is burning
to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the
grace of God.
When things go wrong, God
responds with passion. Like any good parent, God shares in our
pain and suffering. Any mother or father knows that as parents
we're not only aware of the suffering of our children, we
actually participate when our children our hurt. Isn't this
When Jeff, my oldest son,
broke both of his wrists I think I was in as much pain as he
was. I found myself lying awake a night worry about his
The point is our children's
welfare becomes more important than anything else. Well it's
this way for God also, as our parent. When we are in pain and
are suffering, like a parent, God feels our pain as well. So
as Christian's we believe God remains present with us in the
midst of suffering, this is why the difficult times in our
lives also become an opportunity for growth.
In a way, life is ordered
like this. Consider this, many of the advances we make in our
lives comes through pain. Infants learn to sleep through the
night only through the anxiety of being separated from their
Toddlers learn to walk by
falling down a lot. Teenagers learn about love through times
of insecurity and disappointment. Older adults gain wisdom as
they live with the loss of friends and family. And Christians
grow in grace and trust as they experience difficult times.
Suffering is a part of life,
and God speaks to us through this suffering. God speaks
through illness, injustice, and misunderstandings to bring us
to an authentic life, a life filled with purpose, and a life
focused on the priorities of God. Yes, suffering may be
painful, but it's also an opportunity to grow in love and
trust. As Moses placed his trust in God, we too are to place
our trust in God, understanding that all of life's
circumstances are under God's control. Knowing that God loves
and cares for us enables us to keep steady in our faith
regardless of our circumstances.
God demonstrated his love for
us by sending Jesus to live with us. Now Jesus didn't work
independently of God, but in union with him. This should give
us even more assurance of being welcomed into God's presence
and being protected by him. Jesus' purpose was to do the will
of God, not to satisfy human desires. And when we follow
Jesus, we should have the same purpose placing our whole faith
Can we trust God with our
lives? Yes we can. Can we trust God to be with us during times
of difficulty? Yes we can. Can we trust God to forgive our
sins? Yes we can. Can we trust God to raise us to eternal
life? Yes we can. Can we really trust God? Yes we can.
Read other messages by Pastor Wade