If only trusting God were as simple as a childhood trust fall.
When our daughter was a year old, she used to throw herself off the bed into our arms. Fear wasn’t a part of her mind’s vocabulary, and she knew without a doubt that we’d catch her each and every time. Without fail.
As she’s grown older, she boldness hasn’t dwindled much. Mommy and daddy still provide safe arms for her to fall into. But she proceeds with a bit more caution, albeit a small amount. She’s learned that when Mom and Dad aren’t there, no arms to cushion her fall are there either. Experience has taught her that the world is not one giant pillow.
I believe when we enter this world, we are all more or less like my daughter. Life doesn’t teach us the meaning of the word fear and distrust until we encounter something telling us we have reason to fear. That we need to protect ourselves. And while fear has its place and is intended to warn us of danger, it also can also consume our lives and disrupt our relationship with our Creator.
When it comes to trusting God with our lives, most of us encounter situations where we think God let us down.
Instead of catching us like my husband and I caught my daughter all those times, we believe he let us fall. It might be an unanswered prayer. A broken relationship. A roadblock we encountered after taking a huge step of faith.
Some of us aren’t willing to admit our hurt out loud, but we feel it. Our fall can take many forms, but the result is the same. We stop trusting. We start guarding our hearts instead of laying them bare before God. After all, if he were there, why would our circumstances look this way?
I went through over a decade of my life not trusting God. While my list of reasons was long, the short version of my story was this: People who claimed to love God broke me. They broke my trust. They did things no person who claims to love God should ever do. While I could give you a list, it would serve no purpose other than to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
On the other side of all this, I saw my Creator through the filter of the people he’d created.
And I didn’t like what I saw. So I ran. Far away from the church, from my Christian school and upbringing, and everything I associated with God.
But I only faced more heartache, and over the course of several years, God drew me back to himself. He never stopped chasing me. And with time, a lot of grace, and seasons of relearning, I realized three truths about God and others. These truths developed a heart of trust instead of the calloused one I’d been carrying all those years.
People will never perfectly reflect the character of God.
Some won’t even come close, as they’ve gone against God a long time ago. Yes, the church is Christ’s bride and his desire is for his people to draw others to him. But our world is still fallen. We deal with the consequences of our own sin and other people’s sin, and God gives each of us the free will to either choose his path or our own.
When we view God through the filter of other people’s sin, we cast darkness on him that he overcame on the cross. He doesn’t deserve this. Let’s not do it.
God sees the entire story, while we see a fragment at best.
In the thick of a personal crisis or struggle, God often feels distant. Giving him the fragmented pieces of our lives seems to go contrary to everything we see around us. But I can’t tell you the number of times when I’ve looked back and seen how he was there the whole time. How he protected me from something I couldn’t yet see.
Time brings perspective, but our Creator is outside of time. He walks before us and behind us, hemming us in with his love.
“You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5 NIV
God’s love is perfect, not lacking in anything.
When my heart is prone to distrust, I have to ask myself one question: Do I believe God loves me? Do I believe he has my best interests at heart? Because we don’t believe he loves us, we will never trust him. And my knowledge of his love grows with my knowledge of who he is.
He is love. There is no darkness in him. The ways he displays it are as numerous as he is, but he always telling a love story through his creation and his Word.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 NIV
Will we receive it? Friend, we will never know the depths of God’s love for us on this side of eternity, but when we ask him to give us more of him, he delivers. There is nothing he desires more than a relationship with each and every one of us.
If you’re having difficulty trusting God today, can I encourage you to start by being honest with him about it? He already knows, but telling him will open a door. And as you walk through it, beauty awaits.