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Trust God, trust yourself

“Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, and sense of spiritual deadness.” -Shakti Gawain

“If you do not ask yourself what it is you know, you will go on listening to others and change will not come because you will not hear your own truth.” -Saint Bartholomew

“I believe, first of all, in God, and next to all in Mary McLeod Bethune.” -Mary McLeod Bethune

Having spent a large portion of my life allowing other people’s opinions shape who I thought I was, at some point I had an epiphany. I realized that some of those opinions were without merit and simply wrong. This one in particular:

“She’s not really good at anything.”

Because everyone is good at something.

If I believed in such things, I would say I simply stumbled upon the things I was good at quite by accident. But I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason — even if God never reveals said reasons to us. I also believe we all know on some level what our gifts are and that we should not allow ourselves the luxury or the burden of being deeply affected by either high praise or profound criticism.

We trust God first and foremost, and we trust ourselves. Because the Master Creator of the heavens and earth reveals in His Word this assurance:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139: 14-16

For most stories about Trust, visit the blog carnival going on at One Word at a Time.

Trust and Obey?

Obedient – submissive to the restraint or command of authority: willing to obey.

If you grew up in church, chances are you have heard the song “Trust and Obey”. Church folks love to teach that to kids. Me? Never a big fan of that song. Not because I don’t think it’s important for us to trust and obey God. I really do believe that. I just take issue with the lyrics:

Trust and obey,
for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
but to trust and obey

Because you see, sometimes I don’t want to be told to obey. For me, that song seems almost like a threat. “You had better obey what I’m telling you if you want to be happy in Jesus.”

Nobody likes ultimatums.

I didn’t give my life to Christ because someone told me if I didn’t I was going to hell. I gave my life to Christ because I finally understood the depth of His love for me. You can’t force willful obedience any more than you can force someone to accept Christ. They have to come to both willingly if either is to be sincere.

I know I’ve posted the following quote on numerous occasions – here and elsewhere, and I may be getting off on a bit of a tangent, but it’s probably my favorite quote on Christianity of all times, so I’ll share it again:

The only thing worse than the joke you don’t get is the explanation that is bound to follow: an explanation that, while it may help you see why you should have seen the humor that you so lamely missed, is little likely to make you laugh. It may provoke you to muster a sympathy snicker so as to avoid more of an already tedious and misdirected lecture. It may inspire a mild giggle of recognition, but it will hardly ever raise a real belly-laugh, which was the original desired effect.

And so, here I go — me and a dozen thousand other people — trying to explain a joke that we would do better to learn to better tell. I am setting out to explain again why Jesus is the only true hope for the world, why we should put faith in Him, and what all of that won’t mean. I am collecting the information, selecting from what I hope will be usable as evidence, arranging my findings into arguments, framing it for presentation and recognizing that, while it may be fine as far as it goes, it doesn’t go far enough.

But then I remember two things. The first thing I remember is how I once won an argument with a heathen friend of mine who — after I had whacked away his last scrap of defense, after I had successfully cut off every possible escape route that he could use, after I backed him into an inescapable corner and hit him with a great inarguable truth — blew me away by simply saying, “I do not want to be a Christian. I don’t want your Jesus Christ.” There was no argument left to be had or won. Faith is a matter of the will as much as it is of the intellect. I wanted to believe in Jesus. My friend wanted to believe in himself. In spite of how convincing my reason was, my reason was not compelling.

So the second thing I remember is this:

I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways) His Presence; a presence that is more than convincing, it is a Presence that is compelling. I am a Christian not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be the nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey. “If I be lifted up,” Jesus said, “I will draw all men unto me.”

So, here I offer what is possibly the worst thing that can be offered: an explanation of a joke. And, what makes this more inexcusable than the fact that this is that, is the added fact that this is an explanation of a joke you’ve already gotten. I offer it anyway. I offer it in the hope that it might somehow encourage you to live out your lives and, by your living, tell the joke that I, in my writing, so feebly attempt to explain. Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.

-Rich Mullins

Letting Go

Proverbs 3:3-7 says:

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.

So why do I find it so difficult to heed those God-breathed words sometimes? Because even though I know better, I stubbornly want to believe that I know what I’m doing. That I’m in control. I smile as I type those words, knowing what a ridiculous statement that is.

Lord, forgive me for thinking I know better. I’m still struggling to simply let go.

I’ve been holding on so tight
Look at these knuckles
They’ve gone white
I’m fighting for who I wanna be
I’m just trying to find security

But You say let it go, You say let it go
You say life is waiting for the one’s who lose control
You say you will be, everything I need
You said if I lose my life it’s then I’ll find my soul
You say let it go.

Well it’s hard enough to hear
Harder still, to move beyond this fear
We know there’s nothing I can bring,
So tell me what do you want from me?

But You say let it go, You say let it go
You say life is waiting for the one’s who lose control
You say You will be, everything I need
You said if I lose my life it’s then I’ll find my soul
You say let it go, You say let it go

What do I love?
What do I hate?
What will I lose?
What will I gain?
How do I save my soul?
What if I bend?
What if I break?
What will it cost?
What will it take?
For you to save my soul.

You say let it go, You say let it go
You say life is waiting for the one’s who lose control
You say You will be, everything I need
You said if I lose my life it’s then I’ll find my soul

You say let it go, You say let it go
You say life is waiting for the one’s who lose control
You say you will be, everything I need
You said if I lose my life it’s then I’ll find my soul
You say let it go, You say let it go