Trust vs.Control

Lately I've been wrestling with the issue of having "true" trust in God. I preach and teach trust, but how much "trust" do I actually have? How much trust do any of us actually have?

The very simple passage that we've all learned growing up in church says,

"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

So if its such a simple passage why is it hardly followed? Stop right now and look at your life. If you live in the United States, especially take a look. How much of what you do on a daily basis is driven by your full trust in God? On the other hand, how much of what you do daily is driven by your own understanding? Are you driven by the idea that you have control of your circumstances?

We like to neatly preach that we should give up control and watch God work. We like to correct the bumper sticker that says, "God is my co-pilot" and change it to "God is my pilot". Even popular culture says, "Jesus take the wheel". But how much of that do we really believe? Not believe, as in thinking that we should do it. I'm talking about believe to the point that our lives are characterized by it!

Let me just put my thoughts into practical examples.....

This morning I'm driving to work. I pass a man who is riding his bike down the street. This is a man that I pass almost every day. Ashamedly, I've even caught myself making jokes about the guy to friends. However, as I passed him today the thought ran through my head, "what if I stopped and talked to this guy?" "What if I pulled over and just asked him if there is anything that I can help him with or pray with him about?" "What would happen?"

Then almost immediately other thoughts ran through my head....
"What if he tries to hurt me?"
"What if he's a crazy person?"
"What if I end up talking to him for too long, and I'm late to work?"
"What if he wants more from me than I can give him?"
"What would people think of me if I stopped?"

Notice the 2 worlds of thought. One thought process is clearly the Holy Spirit, giving me compassion for the less fortunate, a desire to be kind, and a heart for those in need. The other thought process is my flesh, protecting itself, leaning on its understanding, and trying to keep things in my control.

Could you imagine if I had stopped? The circumstances of what would happen next would be out of my control. The guy could attack me. The guy might just ride on by. The guy might stop and ask me for money. The guy might stop and talk to me for 3 hours. The guy might stop and happen to be a religious fanatic. The guy might start following me around. The guy might be open to the gospel and turn his life over to Christ. Who knows? And that's precisely what kept me from stopping, the fact that I did not know what would happen. Control, not trust.

I hear from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ all the time, in regards to situations like the one I'm referencing, that we have to be "smart". That there's a difference between being loving and being stupid.

In college, I was at a gas station at about 10 p.m. A man approached me with a story that he had gotten kicked out of his house by his wife and he was trying to get a ride to his brother's house which was about 7 miles away from the gas station. He didn't want any money. He didn't want any help other than a ride to his brother's house. He didn't even look like a "shady" character, if there is such a thing. He looked like an average guy, who was just going through a difficult experience. Needless to say, my worries got the best of me and I told him "no". After I left the gas station, I was meeting some friends for a late night meal, but the whole drive to the restaurant I felt completely guilty that I did not give the guy a ride. In fact, I turned my car around and drove back to the gas station to see if he was still there. He was gone. I cried. I felt that I had not only let him down, but that I had let God down. As I pulled into the restaurant, I was going through my head whether or not I wouldn't to admit to my friends what had happened. My friends were strong Christians, and we often had talks about what was going on in our lives spiritually. I decided to pour out my heart to my buddies, expecting them to say things like, "yeah, you should have given him a ride" or "you may have missed an opportunity to show Christ's love". Instead they said things like, "You made the right choice!", "You can't just pick up a strange person on the side of the road!", "God gave you a brain for a reason!".

At the time, their words gave me comfort. However, as years have gone by I have realized how wrong they were!

How dare we make a decision based on our brain telling us it is okay or not okay! Doesn't that completely go against the passage in Psalms when it says, "do not lean on your own understanding"?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should choose to do every unsafe thing that we think of! I don't think that's God intention. I think the Spirit of God is faithful to give us discernment. However, I think we have focused too much on things like control, our own safety, and our agenda to the point that we miss doing what God has called us to do.

Here's a few things lately that have also got me thinking....

"Should I be investing money?": Where does good stewardship end, and greed begin? Am I saving money, so that I'll have security when I'm older? Isn't that me trying to lean on my understanding, and take control of my circumstances? What would happen if I gave that money to the needy that I'm putting away for retirement each month?

I know as men, we have the desire to take care of our families. I would do anything for my wife and daughter. However, would it be better for me to save enough money for my wife and daughter to live a comfortable life, or to give money away to people in need so that my wife and daughter can see the love of Christ in action?

"Should I make a to-do list?": I've always been passionate about having goals, and imploring practical steps to achieve those goals. However, this seems to be another form of control. I know God gives men vision to achieve His purposes, but shouldn't the process be putting down our to-do list and seeking His wisdom for each next step?

I'm not trying enable people to be lazy, not have goals, and use God as the reason for them not accomplishing things, but what is it going to take to give up the controls and fully trust in God? God gave us this life! Let Him show us how to live it!

Consider these couple of scriptures:

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"---yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."" James 4:13-15

What does scripture tell us? It appears that we should be less concerned with planning for the future of this earth, and we should be more concerned with eternity. Which means less control and more trust.

Ultimately, all we do should be for His divine purpose and glory.

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

Thanks for taking time to read my thoughts, and share in my recent struggles. I'm simply asking for prayer as I seek God's will only. I pray you'll do the same.