By Christian Weed
In part one of Learning to Trust God, we talked about what the process of
building trust in God looks like. In this second part, we’re going to examine the
deeper heart of the issue of trust that underlies most issues for both Christians
and non-Christians alike: the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Letting Go of Control
Learning to trust God is hard because it means learning to trust someone and
something other than ourselves. Why is that so difficult? Because it requires us
to relinquish our control.
If you have ever encountered someone who prides themselves on self-sufficiency,
you have met this issue face-to-face. Or maybe that someone is you.
As a person who comes from an extended family of farmers and ranchers, I
encountered this reality many times in that culture as a kid. The basic idea is this:
“I can provide everything I need. What do I need God for?”
Well, a lot of things.
First, we certainly aren’t capable of saving ourselves from our own sinful natures
and their consequences, and we’re certainly not capable of securing salvation for
the rest of humanity and conquering death. Jesus alone did that. He alone could
do that. He paid that price. Accepting that fact might be the most fundamental
part of the Gospel.
In that way, then, total self-sufficiency is an enemy of God. It’s an idolization of
self. In it’s desire to control, it falsely comes to believe that we can operate “just
fine” without Him.
What a terrible, subtle lie of the enemy that is.
Second, life with God and in His way is simply fuller, richer, and more beautiful
than on our own, even if it comes with its own set of new obstacles.
But if we can overcome that inclination to control, that inclination to a wholly self-sufficient
mindset, if we can come to accept Jesus as Savior by simply looking in
the mirror and realizing that we’re all broken people in need of God’s grace,
healing, and redemption, we in turn must also accept that Jesus has proven His
right to be the guide of our lives. That means understanding Him and accepting
Him as Lord.
Understanding Jesus as Lord
In perhaps the simplest expression of what is required of us to be saved, Paul
writes this in Romans 10:9:
“…If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your
heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9 ESV
If you’ll notice, Jesus as “Savior” isn’t part of the equation in this verse. Not
because the nature of Jesus Christ as the Savior of humanity isn’t important—it’s
of the utmost importance. It’s absent simply because the role of Jesus as Savior
is part of His greater role and identity as Lord.
But for many of us, we attempt to have one without the other (Savior without
Lord) in little corners of our lives, even if that isn’t really possible. For me, I have
a hard time trusting that God has a job or position in store for me that I won’t
hate. It’s a crippling fear that has bothered me for years. Its lack of trust is twofold:
one, regarding time; the second, regarding provision.
As a result, in my early twenties, I took various positions seeking fulfillment in my
life that was lacking. But, with every new job, the same void was present in my
heart. That’s ultimately what led me to go back to school after my first year of
marriage—to trust God enough that in pursuing His next step for my life, we
would be adequately provided for. I still fight that fear in pursuing my dream to be
a writer, ironically.
Trusting Means Obeying
If we’re really honest, our avoidance of entrusting God with the role of Lord in our
lives often comes down to this: we just plain don’t like being told what to do and
Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “If you love me, you will keep my
commandments” (John 14:15 ESV). In other words, if we love Him, we will
attempt to do what He wants us to do, not just what we want to do.
There was a whole show in the 1950’s whose title played in to this idea. It was
called Father Knows Best. And while earthly fathers are never perfect, the
principle of the title is well applied to God. For example, consider this typical
Child: “Daaad, I want a cookie!”
Father: “It’s 6:00 p.m. You can have a cookie after you eat your dinner.”
Child: “But I want one now!”
Father: “Trust me. It’ll be better for you to wait.”
Child: (reluctantly but acceptingly) “Okaaaaaay.”
Sure, we might feel “fine” if we eat that cookie, but our bodies won’t be as well
nourished as if we had eaten the broccoli and then the cookie.
The point is, despite what we may want on our own, God’s desires and plans for
us are simply better. That doesn’t mean we can’t want things; in fact, a major
goal of the Christian life is for our desires to align with His as we grow. But
because He is God and has a grand perspective of our entire life, He can clearly
see what we are in need of, far better than we can with our limited perspective.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT
If we believe that truth, we must learn to accept Jesus as Lord, not just as Savior
and then continue to live as we want. This renewal process of surrendering
control of every corner of our hearts and minds to His Lordship takes time, but
learning to trust Him in this way is a deeply important part of His process of
sanctifying us—of being made more like Him over time.
This is something that all people struggle with in some area or another, pastors,
plumbers, and politicians alike.
I encourage you to start asking God to lead you in awareness of the areas of
your life in which you have not surrendered your control. Ask Him to help you in
these areas where you struggle to allow Him to be Lord. This is a prayer that He
will always answer, because it’s about giving Him His rightful place in all parts of
our lives more fully.