On Real Trust and Real imperfection

I think my biggest problem with trust has always been this stark awareness of my own ability to mess things up.  I’m learning how — trusting and believing– they’re very closely related.  I remember how the amplified Bible often included “clinging, trusting, depending on” as it explored the depth and beauty of the language from which we translated “believe”.

But trusting Him…clinging to Him, it’s not really about me.  It’s about who He is, what He says. His trustworthiness.

And what will it be? No, what is it?  Because, I really can’t control what I will choose in five years, five days, five minutes.  I can only choose in this moment.  It’s all I’ve been given in this realm of time and space.

Real trust keeps believing and swallowing the life-sustaining, enough-for-this-day peace-Bread He offers.  And Jesus is that Bread.  And He keeps on giving, because He is Living Bread.  Real trust surrenders the perceived  need for any exemptions from the command, “don’t worry about anything, but pray about and give thanks for all things.”  Real trust allows for perception change when that, which we cannot see as grace, becomes a deeper glimpse into the heart of a God Who is Love, and has a plan that is good, and which nothing can thwart.

Because He knew how anxiety gets us into so much trouble.  How it twists our stomachs, our hearts, and the paths that He would make straight.  And how He really is using it for conforming these images to the Image.  And how it strangles the peace, chokes the faith sustaining our intimacy.  Paralyzes these clay jars that He purposed for all-surpassing-greatness revealing.  And how all worry is just “this desperate clinging to wanting things my own way”.

Real trust can only be if there is a God who is good and loves me.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

“Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’  Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One he has sent.'”  John 6:28-29

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever would believe on Him, would have eternal life.” John 3:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

“And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” 1 John 4:23

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When you don’t feel it

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24

I don’t know what particular set of events, genetics, or personality make-up in me contribute, but I have been one who, in the past, was absolutely consumed with guilt.  There were times when my guilt was appropriate.  When I stole a piece of candy at the store on vacation when I was 6.  When I lied or gossipped behind a friend’s back.  The list of my infractions could go on.   But there have been times, too, when I’ve turned from my sin through God’s power, asked forgiveness, yet did not feel forgiven at all.  What does that mean?  If Christ says that I am forgiven, then isn’t it so?

  I came to accept Christ’s payment for my unrighteousness when I was 17.  Understanding that there was nothing I could do to overcome my sinful nature in my own power, I fell head over heels in love with a Saviour who came to earth and said He would make it possible, and then did.   Jesus, the Son of God, lived a sinless life, was fully God and fully man, able to empathize completely with our weakness and struggle, and the only one able to overcome through a perfect life and sacrificing that perfect life on behalf of every human who would receive the gift.  This news absolutely changed my life.   For a time, my faith seemed so solid.  I genuinely felt forgiven when I asked for it.  It seemed there was unlimited power to overcome the things in my life that weren’t pleasing to God.  It was obvious, I was a new creation.

As time passed, the feelings became less powerful.  And somehow I connected my faith with my feelings.  I doubted that God was continuing to forgive and work in my life because I didn’t feel it.  James says that if I say I believe, and my actions don’t show it, I don’t really believe and I’m lying to myself. (James 1&2) He didn’t seem to think feelings were as relevant as actions in connection with my beliefs.  

I see this same paradigm, not just with faith, but with all of God’s gifts.  For instance, Love.   “Love is a verb.  It is a choice, not a feeling.”  Wise words that stuck with me and rang true in my core.  After 9 years of marriage, I can say I agree wholeheartedly.  When everything is not about me.  When things do not go my way.  When I do not feel romantic or have butterflies in my stomach.  When I am hurt.  Love is not a feeling.  It is a choice.  It’s interesting that psychology tells us that there is a circular behavioural pattern involving: thoughts–>feelings–>actions.  That you can choose to change one of those and the others will automatically be effected.  For me, dealing with the thoughts and actions arena has proven most helpful.  And I love that God reminds us through Paul that, “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy–think on these things.” (phillipians 4:8) Word in, Word out.  When I change my thoughts or actions, slowly but surely, my feelings line up.  I cook dinner when I don’t feel like it because I want to love my family, warmth oozes in.  Give a massage to an achy husband– love in action, a butterfly flutters.  Suddenly, I am feeling love.  With Service: give to someone in need, feel more blessed.  It is the same with forgiveness; Fall short, fall on knees, fall on grace; get up with the knowledge that I am white as snow, eyes catch a glimpse of Him.  Feel it or not, I’m forgiven because God said so. When I can’t choose the feeling, I can choose the thought, the action.  It is a hard process, but so worth it.  I had never read the Bible before I was 17.  I have never hungered for anything like I do the Living Bread.  I need it.  My process has been messy.  We’re all a bit broken.  That is why He came.  That is the good news!  That when I don’t feel it, He is true.  That when I am so infantile and have so much to learn, He is the Grace I need to get where He is leading.   I can trust and believe by acting like it and thinking like it.

 Word in, Word out.  Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

Have you heard the Good News of what Jesus has done for you?  Yes, you!  Jesus said, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” And when the “church people” of Jesus’ day saw him eating a meal with folks who were looked down upon in their community they questioned why He would eat with the “sinners”.  Jesus responded, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  You see, Jesus had nothing to offer the folks who thought they had it all together.  Even though they claimed to love God, follow all the rules, and even deprive themselves for ‘religious’ reasons, Jesus said they were “hypocrites”, “white washed tombs”, and “snakes”.  So, if you find yourself among the “not enough on your own”, knowing there is an inner life that He sees and desires to make right, there is a place in His Kingdom for you.  He is the Door.  We can only enter through Him.  His death on the cross is what we can accept for our righteousness.  This is where we all begin the real life.  You can take a step in faith by seeking more. For more on new life with Christ, read the Bible, begin to talk to God, (I know that sounds crazy, but He is real and He wants to have a relationship with you), find other Christ-followers.