Last time we discovered that we grow really well when we obey Jesus and walk in his ways. Sometimes this journey is difficult. However, it is absolutely necessary for us to grow to maturity. The best thing is that we are never alone on this journey. Others watch us. It is a witness to the world that we are a “real Christian” when we show our faith by our actions. One of the deepest ways to grow in holiness is learning to trust God. Sometimes when we were children, we didn’t learn ‘basic trust’ through our families and friendships. However, we can re-learn this important relational aspect that is the foundation of nearly all our relationships.
Do you know who you are? Or do you need to please others to feel a sense of identity, belonging or sense of worth? Sometimes we wrongly learn to ‘hedge our bets’ and try to please other people around us. This is very visible if you haven’t had the certainty of love and the dependable nature of a stable parent or guardian. We may build walls around our hearts. We may not learn the basic trust that someone will catch us if we fall or love comfort us in difficult times. Instead of the stability of knowing faithfulness and steady, dependable, unconditional love, life can be fragile. Therefore, many turn into people-pleasers to try to earn acceptance.
It is a good thing to bless others – but we don’t need to always strive to please others as if our identity depends upon our performance. I was like this for many years. I understood myself within a variety of different roles: daughter, friend, sister, student, artist and through my volunteer and paid work. I truly did not understand that I there was no need to please God and his servants in order to get into heaven. Well… I knew in my head that Jesus gave himself for me. Salvation was costly for Jesus but free to me. Yet in my heart, I wanted more assurance and I strove for acceptance. I acted only as a servant and not as a daughter. I did not feel comfortable just being with Jesus. I had to always DO something.
It has taken me time, counselling and lots of love from mature Christians to overcome. I had much soul searching before the Lord so I could understand this foundational truth: Even if I never picked up another kitchen utensil, musical instrument, paint brush or the like, Jesus would still love me in the same wonderful way. The Father would still accept me as a daughter and the Holy Spirit would not leave me if I would take a rest. So I did, and limited myself to specific ministries so that I would do only what I was supposed to do at that time. I kept burning out for God, when He didn’t ask me to do this. Yet God had something much better for me – to transform my heart to trust Him. He began to re-work my image of a loving Father.
Most of us have imperfect fathers. My father wasn’t shy and he showed his love for me. However, he teased me mercilessly. I always took this the wrong way and felt intense shame. He didn’t know how to bless anyone (after all, he wasn’t a Christian). When I grew up, I attended a week-long school at Singing Waters ministries in Orangeville, Ontario. It was about the Heart of God the Father. During that week, a very gentle Christian man was able to ‘stand in’ for my father while we prayed. I was able to forgive him for his teasing and the ways that he had hurt me. I received further healing through a father’s love at another conference two years later. Another special man blessed me in a way that could only come from a loving father to a daughter. In time, I was able to see my own father through Jesus’ eyes. It was only then that I could understand. My dad is a loving and generous man. He needs Jesus’ healing as much as I have. So with God’s help, I was able to love honour my dad in such a way that he can now see Jesus in me.
I learned to trust God about my dad, and in the process, I became a witness to him. I had healing in my life concerning other relationships, as I learned to wait on God. At the core of this healing, was a new foundation of trust and security. When our basic trust is held by the Faithful One who does not change, we become more steady. We are no longer easily shaken. King David and other Psalm writers declare their trust in the Lord many times – despite very difficult circumstances. They take refuge in God (Ps 91:2). They trust God when they are afraid (Ps 56:3). They encourage others to put their trust in God instead of chariots, princes and ways of the world. In time, this trust grows and becomes unshakeable. God is trustworthy. He shows His faithfulness in our lives in countless ways. Sometimes He has us wait (seemingly forever!) but He doesn’t seem bothered by our impatience. One of my seminary professors used to say that many people get impatient at the microwave and say, “Hurry up!” Yet, the Holy Spirit offers us a different way. He promises us that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).” That hope implies that we must wait. We must trust Him so we can be allowed to grow – in good times, and in circumstances where we are forced to depend on God.
God doesn’t let us down, although at the time we don’t always see his presence in our lives at that moment. Then we look back. Do you remember the “Footprints” poem? It is then that we see He’s been there all along. In our last article we looked at obedience, this time it’s about trust. The two truths go hand in hand, as is shown in Psalm 84:11-12 and by the hymn “Trust and Obey:” “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…”
Next time we’ll share on growing through Prayer.
Yours in Christ,
Laurie-Ann is an Ottawa based media person. She works for Newcap Radio, and graduated from Algonquin College (radio broadcasting), Tyndale Seminary and University of Toronto. She attends St Paul’s Anglican Church in Kanata, Ontario.