Welcome back to the blog readers! As promised, I am writing the second part in my three-part series To live is Christ and to die is gain. I am so blessed by you! In the last two days Christen and I have had a few “likes” and a few followers! It sounds like something so simple, to have only a few, but please know it blew me away! To be honest, I am not used to complete strangers paying any attention to blog posts that I’ve written. Again, I thank you!
Now, let’s move forward in Proverbs chapter three…
Step Three: Trust
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
~Trust and Obey, John H. Sammis 1887
I just love the last few lines of this beautiful hymn by John H. Sammis, “Never fear, only trust and obey.” Sammis is relating the simple truth that trusting and obeying walk hand in hand and often are one in the same. It is so easy for us to take matters in our own hands and expect God to bend to our will and our way. How naive we are! Sometimes we are so quick to blame God for the trials we face, and similarly we are also quick to blame satan. The first chapter of James explains that we should “consider it pure joy” when we are going through trials, not that we should walk around saying how happy we are that we are experiencing hardship (which would be lying, because who is happy during those times?), but that we should know that it is through these times that we have the most opportunity to grow. Further in the passage James explains that it is not God who tempts us, leading us into a trial, but it is our own evil desires that tempt us, and in turn lead us into the various trials we face.
So what does all that have to do with trusting? Never fear, there is a method to my madness! Trials come. That is absolutely true. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to focus on positive things, or how much we pretend like our circumstances don’t affect us, they come. What we do when they come is the key to this third step of daily living (or should we say, DYING). We need to daily trust in God to give us understanding in life. Whether we are going through the most difficult trial of our life, or we are happily chugging along, we need to daily surrender our future and direction to God.
Last year I, and six other people, took a trip to Europe and visited Germany and the Czech Republic. Our college group worshiped, studied the Bible, and had a crazy good time with a college group from Czech. We made so many lifelong friends there and were so blessed to have had such an awesome opportunity! We stayed a total of two weeks, the first week we stayed all together in a great big house in Germany. Our small group and their larger one planned several activities for our stay in Germany.
On our last night in Germany our Czech friends had this wild and crazy activity planned for us. Sometime after 10pm we all gathered outside our great big house with supplies for blindfolds in tow. We each carried a flashlight with the understanding that we would rarely get to use it. We separated into two groups and lined up. We put our blindfolds on and marched into the night and forest for these crazy night games. The game we played once we got into the forest was frightening to say the least. We each, with our blindfolds still firmly in place, were led by one person (not blindfolded and equipped with a flashlight) into the dark forest littered with trees and natural obstacles and placed somewhere on a rope that had been strung among several different trees in order to make a maze of sorts. Once we were all placed at random points of the rope we were instructed to find each other, but the only noise we were allowed to make was “peep,” and the goal was to once again find our entire team.
The game was frightening! I sat there wondering to myself, “what kind of scary animals do they have in the forests in Germany?!” To my relief though, there was one person standing at the top of the slope with a flashlight, watching the event take place. This person could see every player, every turn in the maze, and every team that formed.
As we are going through life and trials, sometimes it’s so dark that we feel uncertain with every step. Am I making the right choice? Am I choosing the right “rope” so to speak? But our God is like that person standing at the top of the slope. He can see everything from where He sits, every twist, turn, and bend in the rope, and every relationship we form, whether good or bad. The simplest reason for trusting in God is that He can see far more than we can, and is more capable and qualified to give us guidance and direction than we could ever dream of being ourselves. If we just acknowledge this fact, and ask God to lead and direct our every step, He absolutely will make our paths straight and lead us in the direction we should go.
Step Four: Selflessness
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. ~Proverbs 3:7-8
I can remember a very specific time in my life when I became very depressed. I felt completely abandoned by both my friends and God. This depression came shortly after a time in my life where I was being very self-absorbed. It wasn’t that I was all about how great I was, it was that I was so focused on how despicable I was. Being selfish isn’t limited to those times when we feel like we are the bees knees and the world revolves around us. Selfishness is also when we are so wrapped up in feeling sorry for ourselves or even when we are angry at ourselves. In both cases we can tend to be wise in our own eyes. We may say things like, “nobody could possibly understand me,” or ” who could like THIS,” or even “no one will ever be as great as I am.” I know that last one seems a little far-fetched, but honestly, I think we can all relate. Think of it this way, if we ever try to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God like we were just talking about in the previous step, we might as well be saying that we are as great as it gets, or at least that our plan is.
Please don’t get me wrong here, I am in no way making light of depression. My heart sincerely goes out to all those who are suffering from depression. It is a very serious and scary thing to go through. It doesn’t only affect us emotionally, it has many physical affects as well. Depression has the capability to raise the risk of several diseases and disorders and has the power to destroy families and friendships alike. But know this, if we spend some time tearing down those habits of self-focus and start a healthy respect and adoration of our God, our mind and body will benefit from it. I would even be willing to go so far as to say that a person’s depression could be healed if that person were able to spend some time doing something in service to another.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and challenge anyone who reads this to find time this week to do something to serve another person. Maybe it sounds elementary, but how can it hurt? Volunteer somewhere, donate a certain amount of money to an organization in need! Here’s an unusual one, volunteer for one day to clean the bathrooms or something at your church or even a church in the area. We always feel our best when we are serving others, and the plus side is: we’re called to do it!
I hope you all have a truly blessed Sunday and that God reveals himself to you in a new way. As always, thanks for reading!