Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5)
In a recent family devotion I tried to help the kids understand how to trust in the Lord by asking them, “Do you know what it means to be dependent?” We talked about how babies depend upon others for everything they need to survive. We observed that sometimes when people grow older they become more dependent on the help of others.
Then I asked them a more personal question, “Do you think I’m dependent?” Their answer shocked me into inward laughter. They said, “No way dad. You can do everything for yourself.” Clearly their innocent perception needed alteration. So I began to describe how dependent I am on the work of others. Most importantly I told them how dependent I am on God for life, forgiveness and direction. Our children’s eyes swelled with astonishment to learn that their dad was a dependent person just like them.
From the moment we are born to the day we die it is clear we are highly dependent creatures. The slightest sickness, storm or trouble quickly reveals how fragile our cocoon of safety really is and how much we need others to survive.
Of course, this does not diminish the need to “work with your own hands” (1 Thess. 4:11), and “for each one to bear his own load” (Gal. 6:5), and to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). God did not save us to be spoiled children lounging around the pool. Without diligent effort the noble qualities of faithfulness, honesty, persistence and self-discipline cannot be developed.
Yet, recognizing our dependence is an essential step to living by faith. We must come to the end of our own wisdom and find it is totally misguided. We must learn our own strength is insufficient for the most important efforts of life. We must see our moral standing before God as a pile of ashes. Living by faith is trusting in God to provide what we desperately need. Without His wisdom, strength and forgiveness we not just in trouble, we’re totally hopeless. At this point we are ready to depend upon God.
The great news is God is worthy of our complete trust. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). No one loves you more than your heavenly Father. No one is more able or willing to help than your God. No one has proven to be more faithful to you than Yahweh! Whatever you deliver into His care is safely kept (2 Tim. 1:12). You will never regret a moment lived in obedience to His word (Psalm 22:5; 25:2; Isa. 54:4).
Recognizing our dependence on God actually makes us better and stronger people. We are not left to drink from the puddle of our own resources. No. We tap into God’s immeasurable reservoir of wisdom and strength. Therefore, with confidence we can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
However, what does it mean practically to depend upon God? Trusting in the Lord is no mere mind play. It is the result of decisive action. Trusting in the Lord takes the following forms in Scripture.
Be patient with your circumstances. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14). Trusting in God is difficult when your circumstance doesn’t seem to change, but it is more difficult to live with the consequences of taking matters into your own hands (1 Sam. 13:8-15). God has not forgotten you. Be patient.
Take it to the Lord in prayer. “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Prayer is the language of dependence. It calls the loving Father to the aid of his needy children (Matt. 7:11). Your back is not made to bear your burdens alone – pray!
Act on His word. “The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (Psalm 56:4). We sometimes treat God’s word like a cane; we lean on it only when we feel shaky. Oh, that we might see we need its direction every moment or we will fall. “Trust and obey,” they always go together.
Be courageous. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4). You can make bold plans to obey when you depend on the Lord.
Ultimately trusting in the Lord is not just about our needs. It is about His glory! You see, when we overcome our sin and circumstances by trusting on the Lord, who is glorified? The Lord! Ah, that’s the best reason of all to accept our total dependence on God.
Do you depend on the Lord? Take this test. Read the following verses from Jeremiah 17:5-8
5 Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
So here’s the test: Do you feel more like a shrub or a tree? One depends on the Lord, the other doesn’t!
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)
A Song: “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” (Louisa M. R. Stead)
Do you remember this great song?
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me,
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood.
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life, and rest, and joy, and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.