Spiritual Growth

God, Can I Really Trust You?

As I sit here, looking off at the ocean from my hotel room balcony, my heart stills.  I breath more slowly and deeply after a day and a half alone with Jesus on my personal retreat weekend.  I stop and listen to the consistency of the waves rolling in, rhythmic, reliable.  I consider the vast expanse of the ocean, the way we trust the pier to hold us up as we walk, skip or run down it. 

Cayucos 1

I watch people collecting shells.  I wonder how many of them know God and trust Him with the deepest corners of their heart.

Trust. 

When I was studying psychology in undergraduate school, we learned that trusting is a child’s first task in life.  Upon this foundational skill rests the entirety of our development.  Trust {or the lack of it} makes up the fabric of how we do life.  I’ve been sharing with you in this series on how we perceive God about some of the difficulties I experienced as a child.  Like me, you may have had parents who were unpredictable in their love.  Maybe they were happy one moment, and on the turn of a dime they flew off the handle.  Maybe they didn’t keep their promises.  Children who grow up in unstable circumstances have a hard time trusting.  We feel confused, let down and uncertain.  Many of us resolve that we won’t rely on others.  We’ll count on ourselves instead.  The decision to live in self-reliance rarely happens at a conscious level.  We just learn that we are the only one we can depend on fully – and off we go. 

Cayucos 2

Unfortunately, as I went through life, I saw God as unreliable and capricious too.  My experience with my parents and their chaotic anger and inability to make me feel consistently safe caused  me to distrust God.  It didn’t help that when I read the Bible, I experienced it through the lens of caution.  When I encountered scenes where God zaps someone with lightning or kills off an entire nation, or even causes His own chosen people to enter into slavery for generation upon generation, my suspicions about God seemed confirmed.  As I saw it, God was whimsical and definitely could not be trusted to keep me safe.  After all, if God could keep me safe, why didn’t He all those years while I was enduring abuse and harsh treatment? 

If you haven’t been through what I endured {praise God!} you still may have vestiges of mistrust in your heart.  After all, we are all raised by human beings who are flawed.  We go through the world and are let down.  Our expectations and hopes go unmet.  We sometimes let God take up the tab on that one.  We figure, “If God could do something about this and isn’t, He’s not to be trusted,” or “He can’t be all good if He isn’t helping me with this.”  We want God to do things our way and when He doesn’t, we have a bone to pick. 

Waves crashing

The hard thing about being in this position is that we are hard-wired to depend upon God.  As St Augustine of Hippo said,

“You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.”

Reliance upon anything but God will ultimately fail us – big time.  So, if you are like me, you find yourself in quite a pickle.  I wanted God.  I longed to trust God, but the God I knew was real seemed untrustworthy at best and mean-spirited at worst.  I had to find a way to trust God.  The path was not straight, nor was it quick and easy, but bit by bit, as I look back, I marvel at the way my soul now finds its rest in Him. 

The two biggest factors in my healing came through a mentoring relationship and time in the Word and prayer.  I have told this story in other posts, but it bears such relevance here.  I had been going back to church in my early 20s.  I joined a small group where the leader became like a brother to me.  He specialized in helping people walk through the dark night of the soul.  In retrospect, I know God had a divine appointment for me with this brother in the faith.  He brought me to a campus where I attended many lectures by great Christian thinkers.  I already had my Masters Degree, so I attended lectures and classes as a hobby.  I couldn’t get enough of what these men and women had to say about Jesus.  From there I grew to admire one older man in particular, following him around like a groupie when he spoke on various campuses and at churches.  One day I got the courage up to ask him to refer me to a mentor.  The woman he sent me to has been my mother in the faith since 1997.  Together we have uncovered pain, prayed together, shed tears with one another and pressed on through my healing journey. 

Healing happens in relationship.

God intends us to bear one another’s burdens and to help each other along as we share our hearts and become His hands and feet, extending His love into broken and hurting places.  He uses my relationship with my mentor as a place of comfort as well as a place of refinement.  I came to increasingly trust her, and as I did, I grew in my trust for Jesus.  He is the bridge to the Father.  Often times, healthy Christian relationships are the bridge to Jesus.

Lighthouse

In their study on Distorted Images of God, Dale and Juanita Ryan talk about the Unreliable God vs. the God who is trustworthy.  They lead us to Psalm 145 where the psalmist praises God for His faithfulness and nearness. 

As I studied this passage of scripture this weekend, I felt so moved by these verses:

The Lord sustains all who fall

and raises up all who are bowed down

The eyes of all look to You

and You give them their food in due time

You open Your hand

and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

~Psalm 145: 14-16

Lately the Lord has been reminding me that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion.”  He is faithful to His promises and His mission in each of our hearts and lives.  I pray we experience the grace to trust Him more and more. 


I hope this series has been a blessing to you as we continue to explore barriers to greater intimacy with Jesus together.  I love hearing from you.  Share your thoughts here or on the Hearts Homeward Facebook page.  Let me know how I can be praying for you, or share a praise or an experience of God breaking through a barrier to bring you to greater intimacy.  If you are still in the dark night in one way or another, take heart.  Seasons of seeming distance from God can be excruciating, but they are not the end of the story.   In the next post in this series I’ll be writing about the God who abandons vs. the God who pursues. 

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