Many times over the last couple of months, I have questioned my ability to trust God. All the change and uncertainty and struggles of life have pressed in, making me feel overwhelmed and confused. The Word of God tells us not to focus on the things around us, but to look at Jesus. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2). “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Just like Abraham, we can acknowledge the situation we’re in, but always from a faith perspective – understanding that God is not limited by anything. “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:19-21).
But then we come to a place where everything we see goes against this…and it is so difficult not to be distracted by all we see and feel. How many times does the Holy Spirit remind us to walk by faith and not by sight…and in the next breath we’re telling him we can’t believe because of all the things we see around us?
The worst part is that in Christ we actually don’t have to be weighed down by all these physical realities, and yet we cling to them as though they are our life! The whole time God is there with open arms, asking us to rest in his embrace. The more we frantically cling to our fears, our insecurities, our doubts, and our pain, the more impossible it seems to look at him. He says, “Come to Me,” and we say, “But You don’t understand…I’m a mess! I can’t do it! I don’t know how to stop looking at all these things for my comfort.” We tell him all about ourselves, and how we are too jacked up to let him hold us…as though he isn’t already fully aware of everything that we are and all that we’re not! Again and again, he reminds us that he saved us when we were his ENEMIES. The very worst part of who we are, the part we try to hide from everyone else, the part we hate so much that it depresses us – that is exactly the part of us that Jesus sacrificed his life to reconcile to the Father. “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:7-8, 10
Somehow, we believe deep down inside that we have to live up to God’s standards since he set us free. But that very belief holds us in the bondage that Jesus broke off us through his death and resurrection! The whole point of the gospel is that we couldn’t free ourselves from the power of sin. We can’t make ourselves good enough to be God’s children, no matter how hard we try. That’s why Jesus had to come and do what we couldn’t do – to reconcile us to the Father. When we come to him in faith, he sets us free from our sin…and then we turn around and run right back to the chains that held us captive, struggling and thinking that we are actually pleasing God by working harder and trying to earn his favor on our own. But we can’t do it. So we become devastated and tell him he might as well give up on us, because we’re a lost cause. This is the place I found myself at…again…discouraged and worn out, with no hope that anything would change.
But the Lord spoke through his Word, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3) If my work did not earn me a place in his family, why would I think that my work is what continues to transform me?! It is all by faith. I have been released from needing to do everything right. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). It actually hurts the Lord when I run back to the slavery he set me free from. That’s the reason he did it – so I could walk with him! He wanted to restore that relationship he had in the beginning with Adam and Eve, when they were unashamed in his presence, enjoying his love. He wants that to be the reality of my life in him.
As always, in his goodness and compassion, the Lord revealed his heart to me, even in my weakness and desperation. He continued to tell me how much he loves me…and that he is with me. He reminded me through my husband that the reality is, it was never about us. Nothing about our life actually is about us! The Almighty God does not need us to do or say the right things or to work hard enough for his will to be done. He is GOD. I’m pretty sure he can handle it. He can do whatever he wants to, regardless of my weakness…or even my strength. The purpose that he created me for…the reason I exist…is to walk with him. His goal for me is to be in relationship with him – to understand his love and rest in it! That is the only thing I need to do…rest in who HE is and what HE has done! Nothing around me, nothing that “happens” to me, no one, and not even my own emotions or issues, can stop him from doing his will, as long as I am submitted to him. That is reality. And the amazing thing is that I am FREE to walk in that reality!
Now I see that it really has nothing to do with my ability to trust God, and everything to do with his unlimited ability. He is way bigger than I give him credit for!