In God we trust, but how far?
by Deacon Christine Maddux
It started innocently enough. I bought a small sign at the Town & Country General Store in Cashiers, and perched it on the windowsill above our kitchen sink. It read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” a familiar first portion of a verse from the biblical book of Proverbs. I was delighted to have it, since it featured my “word for the year.” (Adopting one word to watch for while reading the Bible is a way I nurture spiritual growth in a particular vein over the course of a year.) The word God gave me for 2019 was “trust.” What a spiritual gold mine/land mine that little word turned out to be!
I unearthed the gold mine aspect of “trust” quickly when I saw how many times it appears in the Bible. Thanks to a handy phone app, it took only seconds to see that trust is an important theme in God’s divine instruction manual, appearing 170 times (in the New International Version). And although the word and concept of trust can be mined throughout the Bible, the mother lode is deposited in the Psalms, where David and other psalmists proclaim the best and worst places to put our trust.
Time and again, the psalmists exhort us to trust God completely because He is entirely trustworthy. They say it clearly, as in, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). Some psalms teach trust in God as the remedy for fear (e.g., Psalm 56:3-4,11). Psalms 21 and 22 remind us that calling out to God with trust gets his attention, yielding blessings amid strife.
And the Psalms just as clearly instruct us in the folly of placing our full trust in anything but God, as we often do. We are warned about placing our trust in military power (“horses and chariots”), worthless idols, wealth, our own resources, even other people who may let us down. If you think you never place trust in any of these things above God, just select “trust” as your word for the year and see what happens! This is where the gold mine can become a land mine.
Although I had certainly put my trust in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, as I walked through a difficult 2019 I realized that I still had much to learn about trusting Him fully and at all times – “with all my heart.” I kept stepping on land mines, pockets of mistrust or self-reliance that blew up through the many hard circumstances God allowed into my life for that very purpose. A spiritually mature friend explained that this is how God leads us to “a new level of trust”, over and over again.
The renowned theologian C. S. Lewis put it this way: “The trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing has yet been done” (Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer). Although this may seem counterintuitive, and is certainly challenging, this is our loving God’s way of keeping our relationship with Him vital and our reliance on Him absolute.
After a year of having my trust in God tested and stretched, I know that when I see my kitchen windowsill sign, I need to embrace the entire verse — and the ensuing one — daily: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Practice this and you will be blessed.
The Rev. Christine Maddux serves as a deacon at Christ Anglican Church in Cashiers and lives in Sapphire. Send your comments and questions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the Crossroads Chronicle, January 15, 2020.