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Perfect TrustEars to Hear, Hearts to Trust, and Minds to Rest in Him
By CHARLES R. SWINDOLL
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2000 Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGive Me a Heart to Trust
I can't think of anyone more suitable to inspire our trust in God than the psalmist David. He was hunted, haunted, and hounded by his enemies even though God had promised him a future of leadership. He was the anointed king-elect, but Saul was still on the throne. David inspires us because we read of his trust in God during those years of relentless adversity. In Psalm 4:3 he said, "Know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him." He was so sure of God that he later added, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety" (v. 8).
When the Philistines seized David in Gath, he said, "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3–4). When he fled from Saul into a cave, David cried out to God: "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by" (Psalm 57:1).
Many, many years ago, Felix of Nola was escaping his enemies, and he, too, took temporary refuge in a cave. He had scarcely entered the opening of the cave before a spider began to weave its web across the small opening. With remarkable speed, the insect completely sealed off the mouth of the cave with an intricate web, giving the appearance that the cave had not been entered for many weeks. As Felix's pursuers passed by, they saw the web and didn't even bother to look inside. Later, as the godly fugitive stepped out into the sunlight, he uttered these insightful words: "Where God is, a spider's web is a wall; where He is not, a wall is but a spider's web."
Along the path of life, we also find ourselves in cave-like struggles. Sometimes the things we go through are our own fault. We deserve judgment instead of relief. At other times we are caught in a dark place because of what others have done or as a result of circumstances beyond our control. Regardless of the cause of our "cave," we can pray with David, "Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul" (Psalm 143:8). David wanted God's will to be accomplished in his life. He trusted God to show him the way through the difficulties—up and over the rugged rocks to a smooth highway.
But what about those times when we trust in God yet disaster strikes? We are tempted to doubt and question, "Why?" We ask, "God, if You are my safety, why am I in this situation?"
Helen Roseveare was a British medical missionary in the Congo years ago during an uprising. Her faith was strong and her trust was confident, yet she was raped and assaulted and treated brutally. Commenting later, she said, "I must ask myself a question as if it came directly from the Lord: 'Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience even if I never tell you why?'"
What a profound thought. God has trusted each of us with our own set of unfair circumstances and unexplained experiences to deal with. Can we still trust Him even if He never tells us why?
The secret to responsible trust is acceptance. Acceptance is taking from God's hand absolutely anything He gives, looking into His face in trust and thanksgiving, knowing that the confinement of the hedge we're in is good and for His glory. Even though what we're enduring may be painful, it's good simply because God Himself has allowed it. Acceptance is resting in God's goodness, believing that He has all things under His control—even people who are doing what is wrong. Yes, even wrongdoers.
Christianity is trusting Christ, not self. Most people are trying to reach God, find God, and please God through their own efforts. But perfect trust is resting all of one's weight on something else, not on self. It's like resting on crutches to hold you up when you twist an ankle. You lean on them as your strength. Proverbs 3:5–6 teaches us to "trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." In other words, strength comes from proper perspective. Elton Trueblood put it this way: "Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation." Strength comes from choosing to fully trust, pray, and praise. Our circumstances may not change, but in the process, we change.
This is how Andrew Murray stated it:
First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this straight place: in that fact I will rest.
Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me the grace to behave as His child.
Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends for me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
Last, in His good time, He can bring me out again—how and when, He knows.
Serenity is another word for peace, something we all long to have. But this peace isn't a nirvana hypnotic trance or something encountered by repeating a mantra a thousand times. It isn't acquired through yoga exercises or crystals or channeling or counsel from a guru in Tibet. Where do we find this peace? Peace comes from trusting in God. "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). It comes from dwelling in the shelter and finding refuge in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1–2).
In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul recounted a litany of the effects of God's goodness toward us: we are forgiven, strengthened by His Spirit, and granted wisdom, sonship, and hope. We are promised the prayers of Christ for our needs and the certainty of an eternal destiny and purpose. Following all this, Paul paused and asked, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:31–32).
We continually encounter hardships. People disappoint us. We disappoint ourselves. But God is constant and compassionate. We are not alone. He cares. Against all reason, the transcendent God loves us so much that He has committed Himself to us. That's why Paul could proclaim, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37–39).
God has entrusted a great deal to us. He knows that we can do all things by His grace, so He's trusting in us to trust in Him. Yet He knows our fears as well. Otherwise He wouldn't assure us so often of His purposes and His presence.
The secret to responsible trust is acceptance.
We feel hurt and alone—God assures us He cares.
We feel angry and resentful—God provides wisdom and strength.
We feel ashamed—God promises to supply all our needs.
May He give us ears to hear, hearts to trust, and minds to rest in Him. Our God is uniquely and ultimately trustworthy!
Entrust. what a wonderful word! it is a banking term ... meaning "to deposit." when it comes to trials, we deposit ourselves into God's safekeeping until that deposit yields eternal dividends.
When you deposit money in the bank, there's a limit on how much the FDIC will insure under one account ownership; usually it's about $100,000. But our infinite God has no limits. Millions upon multimillions of Christians can deposit themselves in his care, and he will make every one of them good. He will hold every one of us securely.
Trust When You're Troubled
We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems. Unsolvable without God's wisdom, that is. With His wisdom, they are changed to great opportunities. That change depends on our perspective. We are faced with a problem that seems to have no human solution. And perhaps it doesn't. There is no end in view. It has all the marks of an endlessly impossible situation. But I have found in my few years on earth that this is the platform upon which God does His greatest work. The more impossible the situation, the greater God accomplishes His work.
This truth is no better illustrated than in the life of Job, a man who went through great times of suffering until God finally brought rest and restoration. When I read the account of Job's plight, I cannot imagine it. He lost everything he owned—his home, all ten of his children, and his health. It is probably safe to say that not one of us has ever entered into such depths of misery and calamity. Remarkably, his first response to God was the response of worship: "Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped" (Job 1:20).
You might expect him to fall to the ground and cry for mercy or to rant and rave that these back-to-back events were simply not fair. But he didn't. He worshiped. And not because he understood what was happening to him, but in spite of all that was happening to him. Not only did Job worship, he accepted what God had sent into his life. That is wisdom. That is perfect trust.
How was Job able to respond like this? First of all, he looked up and was comforted by God's sovereignty. When he looked up he saw a God who gave and took away. More than that, he saw the heart of God. He saw the sovereign love of God. Second, Job looked ahead and was reminded of God's promise that at the end it would all be made right. That spurred him on. Third, he looked within and saw that God had instructed him in his suffering and illness as in no other way. Like a piece of clay, Job willingly placed himself in the hands of the Master Potter. In essence Job said, "Do with me as You please. I trust You."
Job's response was rare then ... and it's rare today. Trust is usually lacking when unsolvable problems emerge. When I think of a lack of trust, my mind goes back to the spies who went into the land of Canaan (Numbers 13). God had promised to give the land to His people. But the spies forgot all about the promise. The voice of God was suddenly silent because the lens of fear magnified the size of their uncertainty. They forgot all about the fruit of the land. They forgot all about God's power. They focused directly and only on the size of the enemy and the strength of the cities, even though there wasn't one city or entire tribe of the enemy greater than God.
It's the nature of the beast within us to keep going back to the familiar rather than to strap on faith and face the future. We are intimidated by the adventure, the excitement, and the delight of watching God block out the "giants" in the land. We want the safety of yesterday even though we know it's not where God would have us. Anything to avoid the uncertainties waiting around the bend—those unfamiliar surprises, unwanted fears, and unpleasant adversities.
But when God is in your circumstances and you come to a dangerous place, He magnificently delivers. He delivers wisdom right when you need it. He delivers protection. He delivers relief from discouragement and internal fortification from attack. If you run away, you nullify faith. You panic and cut God short. You short-circuit His opportunity to do what man cannot do. Stand firm! Believe Him! Give Him an opportunity to bring those afternoon miracles. Just before nightfall, He'll come through.
God is not known for doing standard things. He is engaged in doing very distinct things. When a person does something, it has the man or woman look about it. It drips with humanity. You can follow the logic of it and see the meaning behind it. You can even read what they paid for it and how they pulled it off and the organization that made it so slick. God doesn't build skyscrapers; men build skyscrapers. And they all have the touch of genius. Human genius. But you cannot find a man who can make a star. And when God steps in, His working is like the difference between a skyscraper and a star.
A classic example comes to mind. It happened back in the days of Daniel. His three Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, refused to bow before a golden image of the king. Rather than worship that gigantic idol, they chose to trust their God to deliver them from the fiery furnace into which they were thrown. A humanly impossible situation? Absolutely.
God honored their convictions. He miraculously delivered them from the white-hot furnace. So amazed was the king, he extolled their God! In fact, he announced, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him" (Daniel 3:28, italics mine).
Perfect trust resulted in divine deliverance.
We just take life one day at a time. That's the way God dispenses life. Because he never changes and he knows what will work together for our good and his glory. You and I don't.
Ever have something begin to kind of nag you? You can't put your finger on it. It's fuzzy. sort of a slimy ooze. It's just growing in the corner, nagging you, getting you down. That is the beginning of a heavy anxiety. We need discernment to detect it, identify it, and get to its root, so we can deal with it. When we see the beginning of anxiety for what it is, that's the precise moment to cast it on God, to roll that pack on him.
Trust God to Work His Will
You know what? God personally cares about the things that worry us. He cares more about them than we care about them: those things that hang in our minds as nagging, aching, worrisome thoughts. First Peter 5:7 invites you to cast "all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." He cares. You are His personal concern. He cares about those aching thoughts that are like heavy anchors dragging you down.
Moses had an anchor dragging him down. Do you remember why he left Egypt when he was forty years old? He was running for his life. Pharaoh and some of his men were looking for Moses, to kill him (Exodus 2:15). Then forty years later God told Moses to return to Egypt (Exodus 3 and 4). Naturally Moses was worried about those men back in Egypt who wanted his head. He was reluctant to go back. But once he acquiesced to God's will, he said, "Lord, I'm available. I'm going to trust in You with all my heart. I'm not going to lean on my own understanding." Then while he was still in Midian, God said to him, "Oh, by the way Moses, you know all those men who sought your life? They're dead." Isn't that remarkable? What a tremendous relief for the old fellow!
His experience demonstrates the truth of Proverbs 3:5–6, which I call a before-and-after proverb. Certain things are to take place beforehand, which are our responsibility, so that afterward something might occur that is God's responsibility.
Let me explain. What is the before part? "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." That suggests relying on Him, letting Him take the lead, have first place, take over the controls ... the steering wheel of our lives. We're to release all that to Him with all our hearts. This is not to be done halfheartedly, but without reservation. At this point Solomon added a warning: "Do not lean on your own understanding," which means, don't bring in the crutches and lean on them, those crutches that you have designed and made to handle such situations. Stay away from them. Don't lean on them; lean on God.
After the warning we are given the final part of the before process: "In all your ways acknowledge him." That word acknowledge in Hebrew could mean "to recognize." We are to recognize God, to remind ourselves that He is in charge.
Now the after part: "He will make your paths straight." That word straight means "smooth." God will smooth out your path. He'll take away the obstacles. He'll take care of those barriers when you come to them. If you'll do your part—give Him the steering wheel and trust Him to be in charge—He promises to make the path smooth.
Excerpted from Perfect Trust by CHARLES R. SWINDOLL Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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