Thursday, September 06, 2007

Learning to trust

This started out as a response to a comment from Matthew (Daelon), but I saw that it was getting long so I decided to make it a regular post. This will also allow me to elaborate a little more on some points.

Even having grown up "in the church" and having had a close walk with Jesus for almost 16 years, I'm still in the process all working this stuff out, in regards to God's discipline and working in the circumstances in our lives. :) And I plan to be in this process for a very long time.

My underlying thought on this is that everything in life is part of our relationship with God. In Him we live and move and have our being. The bottom line, as I see it, is that we're in a growing process to match our thinking and behavior with the reality of our true spiritual identity in Christ. This process is ongoing.

Here's a question to ask about all of the trials, temptations, struggles, etc, that we go through. Is the confusion, sin, doubt, etc, of God? The Bible says God is not the author of confusion. God tempts no one. He says "don't doubt, don't worry." He tells us that His perfect love casts out all fear. And so on and so on.

What I'm getting at is that in the midst of our circumstances, if our thoughts, emotions and wills are working contrary to faith and trust in the true God, it's not that God is causing us to think like that or to behave a certain way as the result of our faulty thinking. Rather, these are a result of thinking according to the flesh, and the good news is that we can see these as opportunities for us to renew our minds and to trust more and more in God. They are opportunities for us to grow, and until we "arrive," we can expect this to keep happening. I know of no one who's arrived. :)

I do believe that God Himself can and will "turn up the heat," but in doing so He will never be the cause of our sin, doubt, confusion, etc. People say, "The Lord won't put any more on you than you can bear." But that's not what the Bible says. It says He won't let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. So right there I see that He isn't the cause of our doubt, fear, sin, etc. If we give into temptation - as we all do - it's not God that caused it. He was there all along, providing the way out.

So when He "turns up the heat," it's not a matter of Him tempting us or causing us to fear, worry or sin, but rather I believe He will allow the circumstances of our lives to be more than what we can bear in our own strength, so that we will run to Him - the One who Himself bears our burdens.

The Sweet Tea example has two parts to it. The first part is spiritual. The second part is soulful. When a sinner repents of the one sin that keeps him from God - unbelief - he comes to Christ by faith and God makes him a brand new creation, spiritually speaking. The spirit is our identity - it's who we are. "Who we are" becomes a new creation, joined as one with God's spirit.

The growing part, I believe is soulful. Our spirits don't become more and more one with God. To me, that's like saying red and blue become more and more "one" with each other to make it "more" purple. But our souls (mind, will, emotions) haven't been "born again" (made into a new creation) and they don't quite take hold of the reality of what's happened in our spirits. That's where the lifetime of growing takes place, I believe. Our soul, which thinks, feels emotions, makes choices and decides our will, needs constant renewing to the truth of God's word. "God's word" can mean "the Bible," but it can also mean the ways He speaks to us in and through our circumstances, and through other people, etc.

My son just turned 9. He's old enough to have already made plenty of foolish decisions in life. :) However, he is my son no matter what. I believe I've gained a certain amount of wisdom in this life, and I want to pass it on to him. So I talk to him, teach him, lead by example, etc. Sometimes I set up certain circumstances in his life on purpose in order to help him grow in wisdom. One easily relatable example that comes to mind is swimming lessons. He has always been afraid of "going into the deep end" of pools. His fear is unnecessary. But he has struggled with learning to swim, so we're paying for swimming lessons. In order for him to learn to swim, he has to get into the pool. He has to follow the instructions of the swimming teacher and he has to trust the swimming teacher! He need not fear the deep end, but until he goes through this process, he will fear the deep end. He already has all the "tools" needed for swimming (simply put: a healthy body), but he needs to learn how to use them.

There are other areas of his life in which I will sit back and watch him make foolish mistakes! Sometimes I'm tempted to step in and "save" him, but if it's not a dangerous situation, I'll often let him make mistakes. And he'll have to learn from them. This is usually after I've already taught him the truth. He'll then (hopefully) see the wisdom of his dad, and not continue to make the same mistakes. But he might just have to make the same mistakes over and over again! And he'll still be my son.

The point in all this is that just as I want my son to grow in "my" wisdom (which is far from perfect - and he's even taught me a thing or two), and I'll use all sorts of circumstances in life to teach him and help him to grow, I believe our Father does the same for us, with perfect wisdom. He knows when to turn up the heat and He knows when we simply need to cuddle up on his lap. But He'll never cause anything in our lives that goes against His nature. I think that His "aim" (which is never off) is to lead us into trusting Him more and more.


  1. Thank you for posting this refreshing blog. I am going to soak in it. The gospel is good news! Hurray!

  2. Hi there eleventh hour, and thanks for the comment! Amen... it's good news, and sharing it with others and hearing it from others never gets old!