Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
I’ve had some interesting conversations with friends about trust recently, specifically about trusting God. In uncertain times, we are brought face to face with our faith – is it shallow lip service that crumbles at the first challenge, or is it a solid foundation for day to day life? Are we actually trusting God to guide us, or are we directing our own lives, only occasionally throwing up a request for emergency course correction?
My friend Penny* has led many ministry teams to other countries and is accustomed to managing all the details of flights, hotels, food, and transportation for the groups, staying “dialed in” to their exact location and schedule. In a group discussion about trusting God, Penny told us about the first few times she and her husband went to Paris, his hometown. She entered into her usual travel mode, noting important details like the best subway routes to get to their destination, which restaurants were close by and within their budget. She questioned her husband’s guidance, inadvertently resisting his suggestions until they had discussed various options.
After several of these time-consuming interactions, Penny’s husband said, “Honey, this is Paris. This is my home. Just relax and let me lead.” It dawned on Penny that she was with an expert, someone who knew where they were going and how to get there, and she could simply enjoy the trip. Once this realization settled with her, she noticed how much more satisfying the trip was for both of them – her husband was delighted to share his city with her, and Penny was able to simply follow, because she trusted him.
Our group quickly grasped Penny’s point about trusting our guide – we recognized how we navigate our own life’s circumstances, carefully counting pennies, mapping routes, comparing options; we forget that as believers we are filled with the Holy Spirit, family members of the ultimate travel guide.
Isaiah 46:10 tells us “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” Our Father knows what is around the next bend for us, and yet we are often like Penny with her husband, making our own plans as if it all depends on us, questioning rather than trusting, striding out ahead of the One who fully knows the itinerary.
Why do we do this? Are we so rebellious? Do we not desire to follow Him fully? I think the answer has more to do with our personal history than with the state of our hearts. In my experience of God followers, most seem to have hearts that cry out like these verses:
At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently…
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
If our hearts desire to be turned toward Him, why do we so often wander off, looking for the “You are Here” kiosk in our own lives when He is right here with us, ready to guide? Most of us didn’t learn the skill of tuning in to Him throughout the day, hearing His gentle voice in the chaos of everyday life. We call this skill Seeing What God Sees, and there are exercises and practices that will enable you to learn and hone this skill so that you are in tune with Him, turning to Him for guidance, rather than feeling left to your own devices. When we don’t have the skill of recognizing His voice, we find it challenging to exercise our trust.
Relational skills tend to build on one another and seeing life from God’s perspective is no exception. One building block skill is Simple Quiet. Here’s an excellent Simple Quiet Exercise: Set the timer on your phone for 15 minutes, and when it goes off, take five slow, deep breaths. As you breathe in, think “You are My Shepherd,” and as you breathe out, think “You will lead me.” That’s it! You don’t have to carry the exercise any further; but do reset your timer for 15 minutes, and continue this practice throughout your day. Within a day or two, you’ll notice more peace and awareness of God’s presence with you. Once the stage is set and your mind is peaceful, recognizing His guidance is simply a matter of practice.
Interested in exploring this further? You can take an in-depth look at this skill in our past Online Practice Community Event “High Altitude: God’s Perspective”. This 3-hour recording was lead by Amy Brown, one of THRIVEtoday’s Relational Skill Trainers, and includes both teaching and exercises to engage your relational brain in noticing God’s presence and interacting with Him.