Archive for the ‘Trusting God’ Category

Not Your Will, but Mine Be Done?

Posted: June 17, 2011 by clairer in Prayer, Trusting God

Have you ever wanted something really badly? Have you ever prayed hard for that thing, and then reluctantly added at the end of your prayer the phrase that Jesus first spoke, “Not my will, but Yours be done?” I certainly have.

At the beginning of my senior year, I knew which college I should attend. In my mind, it was the absolute perfect college…except for the price tag. However, I knew that it was the right college for me, so I prayed that God would provide. “Father, could you please help me to get the scholarship money I need to go to this college?” I prayed again and again. At the end of each of my prayers, I would tack on the “not my will” phrase, but always with a bit of foreboding. Did I really want to pray that God would do His will, not mine? What if God answered that prayer and what if His will and mine didn’t match up? Then I would be stuck at some college God wanted me at instead of the college I wanted to attend!

Now while this thought process seems ridiculous when written out like this, I think we tend to do this all the time. We’re hesitant to pray for God’s will to be done or to commit things to God because we are afraid that God will do things His way instead of our way. But when we examine why we entrust things to God in the first place, we see how faulty our fear really is.

So, why do we pray for God’s will to be done?

First, it is because we serve a God who is sovereign and who holds control over all the universe. Jeremiah 51:15 says, “It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lighting for the rain, and He brings forth the wind from His storehouses.” This is a powerful God that we serve. We serve a God who controls the heavens and the earth.

In contrast, how much do we control? We struggle to change minds with our words, much less change the weather with the “utter of our voices.” The book of Job always aids me in putting my power in perspective. If you need a reminder of how little you actually know and control in comparison to God, I would encourage you to read and mediate on Job 38-41.

When we understand that God controls everything and we really don’t control anything, it makes it pretty easy to choose in whose hands we want our future. Therefore, we trust God because He is sovereign and powerful.

But, a sovereign and powerful God alone does not give us a reason to want His will to be done. It just shows us that it is futile to try to stay in control. The reason we desire God’s will to be accomplished is because we also serve a good God who loves us and wants the best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” So not only is God sovereign and knowledgeable about His plans for us, but those plans are for our good! And, since God knows everything, doesn’t it make sense that He would know what is good for us even better than we do?

Now just because God promises good for our lives doesn’t mean that our lives will always be easy or fun, of course. “In this life, you will have trouble,” says John 16:33. However, we can have assurance that since we have a sovereign and good God, He will be working through the difficult circumstances in our lives to “work all things together for good” for those whom He has lovingly drawn to Himself. In many ways, it’s like the relationship between a father and his son. Sometimes, the father is forced to deny his son something that the child wants, not out of malice, but out of love. The father, knows better than the child what is good for the child and what will harm the child. The son may not understand…and may think that what the father is denying him is a good thing. But the father understands and knows more than the child ever could, and thus lovingly protects the child. In many ways, this is a reflection of how God knows our good better than we can ourselves. Therefore, we trust God because He is good and trustworthy.

Finally, we trust God because it changes our disposition towards our situation. When we pray that God’s will be done, we humble ourselves before God and we acknowledge God’s sovereign control over our lives. This act brings glory to God.

It also helps us to be watching for God’s hand in whatever happens. When we’ve consciously submitted something to God’s will, we know that everything that happens is done by the hand of God, so we can see His work more clearly.

Trusting God gives us peace that our life is in his capable hands and it builds our faith as we wait and watch for what He will do in our lives.

Finally, it helps us to be content in our circumstances. When we’ve prayed God’s will be done and we believe that God is good, then we can be assured that our circumstances are God’s best for us at the present time.

Therefore, we trust God because of how it changes the disposition of our heart.

There is every good reason to trust God with every area in our lives. Sometimes it’s hard “letting go” and putting our future in His hands…which is where it has been all along. We just need to let go of our delusion that we ever had control in the first place.


Solid Rock vs. Sinking Sand

Posted: January 16, 2011 by clairer in Purpose, Trusting God

Everyone loves January because it gives the impression of a “fresh start.” People can start exercise programs and claim they’ve exercised every day of the year so far (which in reality might have only been a couple of days). People can start new Bible reading plans and resolve that this year will be the year they actually read through the whole Bible. New semesters begin and people can start over: new classes, new teachers, new friends. The new year presents endless possibilities.

But as January is passing us by, and New Year’s resolutions begin to fall through the cracks, I think there is a very important question that most of us forget to ask ourselves at the start of the year: what are we building our lives on this year? What is our foundation?

I’m starting my next semester at college and already I’m being faced with the decisions of how to spend my time. Do I hang out with friends? Do homework? Do extracurricular activities? I seem to have endless options and opportunities. How I spend my time will be very revealing of what I am building my year around. If I’m building my year around getting a 4.0 GPA, I’m going to spend a significant amount of time studying. If I’m building my year around friends, I will be spending my time hanging out and scheduling social events. If I’m centering my year on winning a debate tournament or getting into a school play, I will spend my time doing those things. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also.” In the same way, where I spend my time, will determine where my heart — my foundation — will be.

But as I’m surveying my schedule for the semester ahead and looking back at the semester I just finished, I’m realizing that I don’t want my foundation to be in grades, activities, or friends. While these things may be good, they’re not a sure foundation.  Grades can go up and down; activities come and go; and, even friends — though a precious gift — can fail us, at times. If I build my semester, my year, or my life on these things, there is a good chance that my whole world will, at some point, come crashing down around me.

Last semester, I tried to build my world around these things…and at first, it seemed to work. I made good friends, got good grades, and enjoyed a few extracurricular activities. But by the end of the semester, my little world started to crumble. There were some social tensions amongst my friends and final exams that I was feeling unprepared for. My foundations started to shift and sink and I didn’t know what to do.

What happened for me to get to this point? I had been building my foundation on the wrong things. My devotional times with God had begun to slip through the cracks. I would rather have spent my time with friends than with my Best Friend. I began to find my identity in grades rather than finding it in being God’s child. I’d been building my life on temporary and fallible things instead of on the eternal and infallible God.

Of course, making new friends and working on school were not bad things for me to be doing. The problem came when I began to base my value and identity on — and place my trust and hope in — those things rather than in God.

I think often times this can happen in our lives. We get so wrapped up in the good things that God has given us, that we forget who gave them to us and why (to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever). We place our trust in the gifts rather than the giver. We base our lives on worldly foundations rather than on God.

But this is such a mistake! Why would we choose to build our lives on “sinking sand” (as the Bible puts it) when we have a solid foundation? Why trust solely in people when people can change or make mistakes? Why trust in grades when the mind (and occasionally even a teacher) is fallible? We have a God who never changes, never makes mistakes. We have a God who will always listen to us when we pray to Him, who will always love us, who will never leave us nor forsake us. He is the Rock who never shifts, shakes, or breaks. So why would we base our lives on anything other than that Rock?

It’s great for people to be making all sorts of resolutions about how they are going to improve themselves for the next year ahead. But as you’re making all these resolutions, be sure to ask yourself why you’re making them. What are these resolutions revealing about your foundation? If they aren’t God-motivated or God-focused, they should be. Is God your foundation this year? If not, that should be your #1 resolution.

It’s all over the news. The Republican party has swept through the nation, taking many many of the seats held by Democrats back in Washington.  The phrase “Change in Washington” keeps getting thrown around as the newly-elected Republicans vow to repeal healthcare and to fix the economy.  Sound familiar?  Didn’t someone else promise change just two years ago?

In the 2008 presidential election, President Obama’s rallying cry was “Vote for Change!”  He promised to fix the economy, to fix healthcare, to fix everyone’s problems.  People were in tough situations in the middle of a recession.  They wanted someone to change things and President Obama was promising to be that person.  He was promising to be their savior.

The problem was that President Obama and the Democrats couldn’t live up to people’s expectations.  No one could.  The people wanted a messiah, and no matter how hard the president or any other elected official worked, he couldn’t save people.

Now, two years later, the same thing is happening.  People are still in difficult circumstances and they want someone to change things — someone to save them.  So, once again, the people voted for change and voted in the Republican Party.  But will this really solve everything?

The problem is that people are looking for a savior in the wrong places.  Ultimately, no human can ever live up to the perfection expected of political leaders.  No one can ever solve all the country’s problems and make everyone happy.  No one can make life perfect.  People want a savior, but they won’t find it in political leaders…no matter how much change is promised.

In the end, only God can be relied upon to change our lives.  He is the savior that everyone is looking for in all the wrong places.  He’s the one — not politicians — who understands exactly what every individual is going through, and He’s the only one who is concerned about not just our material problems but also our dire spiritual state.

Jesus already solved our biggest problem — our sinfulness — by dying on the cross for our sins.  He already has begun to change our lives as we follow Him.  He always hears our prayers and listens to what we have to say.  He’s the perfect “representative” as he mediates between us and God.  He won’t ever fail.  He’s the only one who lives up to and exceeds all expectations.  He —not Obama, not the Republican Party   nor any other political institution —is the Savior.

And, thankfully, God is unchanging and sovereign, and can never be “voted off” His throne…

God Never Crashes (Computers Do)

Posted: October 6, 2010 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, Trusting God

About a week ago, I returned to my dorm room after spending the weekend at home with my family.  I had enjoyed my time with them, but of course, I hadn’t worked on any school.  After grabbing a couple of textbooks off my desk, I flipped open my laptop in order to get some of that much-needed homework done.  If there was one thing I didn’t need to happen right then, it was for my computer to crash.  Completely.   As in, crash to the point that the computer will not run at all (even in safe mode).   But, that’s exactly what happened.  When I needed my computer the most, it failed me.

In today’s technological age, I’m not the only one who is depending so heavily on machinery (especially computers and the internet).  I’m not the only one who has had a computer crash while needing to do homework.  I’m not the only one who has ever had an entire essay deleted in an instant because the computer shut down randomly.  I’m not the only person to have to go computer-less for nearly a week while the computer decides whether or not it’s going to revive itself.  In fact, in our culture today, we have come to depend very heavily on technology.  And, we’re still discovering that, as good and helpful as it is, technology simply isn’t reliable.

But as I’ve been mediating on the failings and unreliability of technology this past week, I have become increasingly thankful for one thing.  We may not be able to depend on computers, but we serve a dependable God.

Unlike my computer, God isn’t fickle.  He isn’t going to abandon us when we need Him most.  I needed my computer this past week, but even more than that, I needed God.  I needed my computer to help me finish a research paper, but I needed God to give me strength when I was up late trying to get my computer to work.  I needed His comfort when I received some less-than-favorable news about certain assignments.  I needed His joy in my frustration as I had to creatively try to work around not having a computer.

God promised to fulfill all of these needs.  In the Bible, time and time again, God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  In Isaiah 41:10, He says, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  He promised to comfort me (“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” – Isaiah 66:13).  He promised to turn my “mourning into gladness” and to  give me  “comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”  And not only did He promise this, but He was faithful to do exactly what He said He would.

I love how we serve a God who is so faithful.  Can you imagine serving a God who wasn’t dependable?  What would it be like to serve a God who was only there “some of the time?”  What if we prayed to God and didn’t know if our prayers “got through?”  Or even worse, what if we prayed to God and He simply decided that He just didn’t feel like answering that prayer?  What if we needed God, but He decided to take the day off? What if we trusted in God’s promises to always be there, but he wasn’t reliable and we couldn’t count on those promises?  I thought I was pretty depressed at the unreliability of my computer, but this would be infinitely worse.  Without a dependable God, life would be hopeless.

But thankfully, we serve a God who is always there for us…Who never leaves us…Who fulfills His all promises…Who always hears us and always answers our prayers.  Our God is faithful.  Our God is reliable.  And, yes, He’s even infinitely more dependable than my new MacBook.

Leaving…But Not Alone

Posted: August 16, 2010 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, Trusting God

This has been an emotional weekend for me.  The week has finally arrived: I’m leaving for college.  All weekend, I’ve been thinking about the “lasts.”  The last time that I have devotions with my family at night.  My last family dinner.  My last Sunday at church.  Of course, they’re not really lasts.  I’ll be home for holidays and some weekends, but a season in my life is ending and, for a time at least, I’m leaving everything I know behind.  Well, almost everything.  The load of things in the trunk of our family’s van can attest to the fact that I’m not leaving everything behind.  But, I am leaving my family, my friends, and my church.

But, as I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m leaving and all the things I’ll miss, there has been one thought that I’ve found extremely comforting:  I’m not leaving God behind.

One of my favorite verses over the past couple weeks has been Deuteronomy 31:8 which says, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I’ve come to realize that although I’m leaving my friends and family, my Father and my Best Friend is coming along with me — in fact, as the verse says, He has already gone before me.  He is with me now and He is also there, in my dorm room, ready to give me a grand welcome.  Just because I leave home doesn’t mean He won’t meet me in my devotions, instruct me as I read the Bible, or strengthen me as I pray.  No, He’ll still be there — never changing and ever with me.

Got Worry?

Posted: January 24, 2010 by clairer in Trusting God

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them.” ~Matthew 6:31-32

If there is one command in Scripture that I find most difficult to follow, most likely it would be this one: do not worry.  Thankfully, I’m not in a situation where I need to be concerned about where my next meal is coming from, but there are still many things I worry about from day to day.  How am I ever going to pass this Comparative Government test?  Am I going to be able to remember my entire poem when I get in front of the judges?  What did my friends think of me when I said that?

We’re all prone to worry.  It can hit us any time and any place and be about anything.  Some worry about what people think about them.  Others might worry about performing well in school or work. Some might worry about financial problems.  Still others about their futures.  Worry hits us when we’re felling insecure and out of control — like our lives are outside of our hands.  After all, if we could control our futures, we’d have nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong.  Thankfully, our lives are not in our feeble, finite, and incapable hands — they’re in the strong, never-failing, perfect hands of our Father God who knows all things and loves us more than we can imagine.  It’s amazing how many of us unconsciously wish that we held our future in our own hands instead of our Father’s (which is what we do when we worry).  When I think about how little I know and how foolish I often am, I am so glad that God holds my future.

One of my favorite things about Matthew 6:31-32 is that Jesus doesn’t merely say, “Do not worry,” but provides us with a reason not to worry: “your heavenly Father knows you need [these things].”  God is fully aware of what we need and want; and even better, He provides for all our needs.  Some of my favorite passages of Scripture are when God provides for the needs of His people — He provides food for the Israelites in the desert, He provides food for Elijah in the wilderness, He mercifully provides shade for Jonah, and when Jesus sends out the twelve and the seventy-two, God provides for all their needs (they bring no food or belongings with them and have no plans for provisions!) — and this is the same God we serve today.  He still provides for the needs of His children.  We just need to trust that He will give us what is best for us.

This applies to our day-to-day lives today.  I’m a high school senior.  My biggest worry right now?  Getting scholarship money to go to the college I want to attend.  However, in the past few months, I have become increasingly aware that my “heavenly Father knows” what I need.  Because of that, I have been working on converting my worry into prayerful trust.  God provides for all my needs and I am confident of one thing: God will provide the money for me to go wherever He wants me to go.  I have no need to worry.  My future is completely in His hands.  But, after all, what better place is their for my future to be?

A Good God

Posted: September 15, 2009 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, God's Goodness, Trusting God

Imagine this: a god who picks favorites, who delights in being “mysterious,” who one minute might be blessing you and another minute striking you with lightning, a god who holds grudges, or a god who simply doesn’t care about you at all – doesn’t even look your way. What a hopeless and frightening picture that would be!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how easy it is for us to take for granted that God is good. Something that distinguishes Christianity from other religions is that our God actually cares about us – He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I find it so easy to treat the truth that God is good flippantly. I think, “Oh yeah, definitely God is good. I mean He’s God, why wouldn’t He be good?” But really, God is the most powerful being in the universe. If he were not a good God, then not only would we be doomed to hell (because an uncaring or evil god would never send his son to die for us), but life would be a living hell. God could make life miserable for us – it’s within his power – but his gracious love and goodness undergirds His power.

I am so thankful that God isn’t like man. If I had the power that God has, I think I would be tempted to lash out at people who hurt me or zap anyone who offends me. But God is above the petty ways of man. I am continually amazed by his love and goodness and in awe of His kindness in being our Good Shepherd.

His Strength in Our Weakness

Posted: April 2, 2009 by clairer in God's Power, Trusting God

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9a

I don’t know about you, but as spring comes and I have just made it through seven months of school, I definitely don’t have the strength, energy, and drive I had at the beginning of the year.  As I look at the calendar and see that only a month remains between now and my AP tests, I suddenly feel very weak and inadequate.  I’ve had my own sort of “March Madness” and I definitely don’t feel ready to take on April’s showers.  But there’s something I’ve been noticing in my quiet times lately: simply, I’m not alone.

As I read through my Bible, I keep coming across those well-known Biblical heroes: Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Hannah, Saul, and David… These “Bible heroes” have always seemed so strong — I mean, David killed Goliath, Saul conqered thousands, Hannah had faith in God to give her a son (Samuel), Gideon conquered the Mideonites with only 300 men, Moses brought the Israelites out of slavery, and Joseph saved an entire country from famine!  But I have something in common with all of them: I’m weak just like they were.

It’s something that never particularly stood out to me before — the people God used to accomplish the most for him were the weakest.  Think about it for a second.  Think about these “Biblical heroes.”  They were weak!  Joseph (the second to youngest son of Jacob — also a younger son) was a slave!  But that didn’t stop God from using him to save Egypt and Israel.  Moses said of himself, “I am slow of speech and tongue,” and begged God to “send someone else to do it,” (Exodus 4:10,13) but God still used him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.  Look at Gideon of the “weakest clan of Manasseh, and the weakest in [his]family,” or Hannah who was barren, or Saul who was from the smallest tribe and of the least important clan, or David — the youngest son of Jesse and still a boy when defeating Goliath.  None of these “heroes” had impressive backgrounds, resumés, or abilities, but that didn’t stop God from using them.  In fact, God delighted in showing himself strong through their weakness.

How does this apply to our day-to-day lives now though?  Just seeing how God works through weakness should be an encouragement.  If you, like me, are feeling weak or inadequate, it isn’t a weakness; it’s a reminder and an opportunity — a reminder that we are not meant to be self-sufficient and an opportunity for God to show himself strong and faithful in our weakness.