I don’t think any honest, devoted Christian can deny how vital it is within our daily walk to trust in the Lord. Countless clichés have permeated Christian culture as a result of this nigh-universal awareness. “Let go and let God.” “Jesus, take the wheel.” “Is God your pilot or parachute?” There’s certainly plenty of examples of Scriptural precedence for such trust.

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psalms 37:5 NASB

I will say to the Lord , “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
Psalm 91:2

Whether we’re talking about direction or protection, God is far more faithful to us than we are to Him. One of the most commonly referenced Scripture relating to trusting God is found in Proverbs.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 NASB

Sometimes it’s easy for me to trust God, particularly when I have no choice or no understanding. If something is so far beyond my capacity to fix (or even influence), it’s easy to say, “You know what, God? I’m gonna let you handle this one.” If it’s far too complicated for me to fully wrap my head around it, it’s almost natural to say, “Your ways are above my ways, Your thoughts are above my thoughts,” then hand it off. I’ve had issues in the past few weeks that met one or both of those qualifications.

Other times it’s not so easy. As a person who readily accepts personal responsibility out of an inherent nature (or perhaps nurture, as responsibility was [thankfully] a constant push from my father), many times it’s much more natural for me to say, “I got myself into this mess; I’ll dig myself out.” Sometimes, it’s even more subtle. There’s not even a conscious decision, but rather a built-in assumption that a particular thing falls under the jurisdiction of personal responsibility without any consideration to God whatsoever. This latter category is dangerous precisely because it is so subtle and it gives God no chance to be glorified.

A little more than 24 hours ago, I was presented with the question of whether I had ever entrusted God with my own emotional protection. The thought had, frankly (and surprisingly), never crossed my mind. My emotional well-being was my responsibility. I could choose to accept the joy of the Lord, sure, but the protection of my emotional state of mind was my job. Why would I surrender that to God?

So, on the surface, it seems like I’d just say, “Oh, wow. Never thought of that. Well, there You have it. It’s all Yours, God.” One submission and everything is peachy-keen. But instead, it starts making me ask questions about whether or not I trust God appropriately at all. I can say that I have, for a long time, intellectually trusted God. He’s never failed me, and since He is unchanging, why would He start failing me now? The friend who posed the question of trusting God with emotional protection then offered a shocking comparison that rattled me to the core. “That,” he said, “describes my relationship with my microwave. It’s very consistent, too.”

So the measure of trust in my relationship with God is appropriate for a common kitchen appliance. Wow. Just wow.
The bottom line is that Proverbs doesn’t say to trust in the Lord with all your analysis, experience, or lack of alternative. It says to trust with all your heart. I must learn to fully embed myself in that trust.

I should trust God enough to be genuinely vulnerable in my relationships, allowing people past the protective walls I’ve built up since childhood. If I get hurt, God will heal me, and it’s probably a hurt that I needed for some reason.

I should trust God enough to invest myself fully in the relationships He has placed in my life. If He placed someone there, then I owe it to Him, the someone, and myself to stick to it, be friendly, patient, loving, and everything else that particular relationship demands. Even if I don’t see why God would have arranged things as He did (or even agree with His choice), anything short of my full effort diminishes the relationship to something less than His best, as I’ve recently learned the hard way.

If I don’t get it, I should trust Him. If I think I have it figured out, I should trust Him. If I see something is way beyond my reach, I should trust Him. If I see something is practically already in my hands, I should trust Him. If it has a good chance of leaving me in pain, I should trust Him. If there is no risk at all, I should trust Him.

If I’m to walk by faith and not by sight, then I have to be willing to be blind and let Him lead the way.

Over a week ago, I wrote about a comparison between myself and the Old Testament Israel. In it, I quoted a Scripture that I thought summarized my adult life so far:

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12, NASB

The message here is so important that it bears repeating in Proverbs 16:25. The core truth here is that a man left to his own devices can sincerely believe he is doing right while being sincerely wrong. And the results are surely not what he intends. Consider the following bit of wisdom:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
Proverbs 12:15, NASB

Here we find Solomon once again noting that a man alone can feel completely in the right, and his description of the individual as a fool as opposed to the wise man indicates that his feeling of “right” is likely incorrect. As with much of the wisdom literature, though, Solomon offers a practical countermeasure. Get around some people who know more than you, have more experience, or simply have the potential to have insight you do not. Even the first Psalm offers similar advice.

Proverbs isn’t done yet, though.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.
Proverbs 16:2, NASB

As with the first verse, this is stated twice (albeit with slightly differently words) in Proverbs (Proverbs 21:2 to be specific). Once again, there’s the statement that a man believes his choices and actions are good. It’s noteworthy this time, though, that the language (particularly the “but” transition) indicates that the latter half of the verse is in opposition with the former. That is to say that a man can make decisions that seem to be right with the wrong motivation. It brings to mind 2 Corinthians 9:7, where Paul urges people to give because they want to rather than out of compulsion or with a grudge. After all, Paul affirmed, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

What’s in your heart matters. In fact, taking into consideration God’s words about David in 1 Samuel 16, Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 6 and 10, or even His interactions with the Pharisees in Luke 6, it becomes clear that the why is at least as important as the what. God sees into our souls, knowing us better than we know ourselves.

There is hope, though:

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2, NASB

As creatures of free will, and as Christians under a sovereign Lord, we are not static. With an act of submission from us and an act of power on His part, we can change on the inside. So how do we do it? Once again, to reinforce the importance of this premise (I believe), the Bible repeats itself.

Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3, NASB

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psalms 37:5, NASB

By no means do I have it all figured out. I’ve got a long, long way to go. Thankfully, I won’t be walking alone. I’m continually praying for Godly wisdom per James 1:5, but I’m also praying for Godly counsel (not, mind you, just “good advice” from well-meaning friends).

Over the past several weeks, God has continually brought to light exactly how human I am, and exactly how beyond humanity He is. Over and over, He’s brought to mind Paul’s words…

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

Over and over, He brought this Scripture to mind. And over and over, I applied it to the fact that my failures are not beyond God’s capacity for restoration. And for a while now, I’ve felt that I had wrapped my head around that verse pretty well. And yet, I kept hearing, “Chris, My grace is sufficient.” So why does He keep telling me if I already had it figured out?

Of course, it’s because I didn’t. And, frankly, I still don’t, though I’m making progress.

The past two months have taught me a lot about myself, but more importantly it taught me about my relationship with God. It taught me that I’ve “gone through the motions” since day one. I’ve never fully given myself over to Him and intensely, actively, intentionally pursued intimacy with Him. I’ve just intellectually known how good He is and acknowledged His handiwork in the world around me. I’ve seen His forgiveness and mercy active in my life; I’ve always known I’m a screw-up. But I’ve never experienced the power of God that I know He’s capable of.

A combination of my incompetence, lack of character, naivety, and weakness has lead me down the path of destruction and death. Over and over, He’s saved me. I’ve stood up, dusted off, thanked Him, and kept going down the same path. I’ve destroyed my marriage, countless relationships, several jobs, and possibly even my freedom. And, as a good friend reminded me a couple days ago, I can do absolutely nothing to fix any of it.

So, why try?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any intention of going down without a fight. But what am I fighting? Am I fighting my circumstances? Am I fighting my employment situation? Am I fighting to make my marriage work? Am I fighting to regain lost friendships? No. I can try (and for my entire adult life have tried) to fix it all, but I will fail (just like I always have). So I’m giving up. I’m not going to try to fight any of that.

So what’s my fight?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
–Matthew 6:33

It’s not my job to fix anything except for my own lack of intimacy with God. He’s ready already, and He’ll draw near to me at the same rate and degree that I draw near to Him. If I get on the right path with Him and make sure that I’m sticking to that, God will work out the rest of it. I’ll have a happy marriage that bring joy and life into my heart. I’ll have a fulfilling career in service to the Lord. And I’ll have the genuine friendships that I’ve always wanted but never seemed to find myself in.

So I’m not going to try anymore. I’m giving up on all the rest of it. It’s not my responsibility. My sole responsibility is intimacy with God, and I’ve made a promise (to myself, to God, and to others) to devote everything to making my relationship with Him what it always should have (and could have) been. That’s a much lighter load than trying to make up for all my mistakes and clean up my mess.

And that’s freedom.

Throughout my life, God has blessed me over and over again. He has proved countless times that His grace is sufficient, helping me out of tight spots, providing for my needs, and giving me gifts that I could never earn or deserve on my own. He has demonstrated a personal touch on my life, communicating His love in a manner that only He can.

Throughout my life, I have turned away from His direction, insisting that my own ideas and my own ways should work. It’s as if God puts me in the car to take me somewhere, then I hop over to the driver’s seat and shout, “I know the way.” And every time I end up in a classic “is God my pilot or parachute?” position.

So far, my adult life would be best summarized by Proverbs 14:12. “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (NASB)

He blesses me, I turn away and fall on my face. He helps me get back up on my feet, and the process starts over again. Each time, the situation escalates. Higher risks, bigger consequences. Seedtime and harvest becomes a spiritual principal that I see at work each and every day. As it escalates, I see it affecting the people around me like a cancer.

Two days ago, a good friend likened me to Israel. Over and over, they saw God perform miraculous signs and wonders, promoting them as His chosen people. And each and every time, they took to idolatry and distractions and sin. And they reaped the consequences, returned with tail tucked between their legs, and begged for forgiveness. And He was faithful to forgive.

It took the Babylonian Captivity to wake Israel up. They lost everything God had given them, including their own freedom. Again, God proved faithful, kept a remnant, returned them to freedom, and helped them rebuild from scratch. Entire tribes were lost, countless people died, and those that remained suffered. All because they wouldn’t properly steward His calling. They thought they had the answers, but they hadn’t even fully grasped the questions.

I don’t want to be Israel anymore. I want to be a better steward.