Trusting God isn’t Easy, but it IS a Choice.
There’s an old story that tells of a young man who tripped and fell while taking an early morning walk along the cliff tops above the ocean. Suddenly he found himself hurtling towards the jagged rocks below. Half way down he grabbed hold of a scrawny branch growing out of the cliff face. He clung on for dear life, dangling precariously above the raging surf shouting for help for what seemed like hours. So far from the cliff top, with the roar of the surf below, his shouts went unheard.
“Help, help. Is anyone there?”
Eventually he heard a voice, “Yes I’m here. Do you need help?”
“Yes, yes desperately. I’m about to fall – please help me.” He shouted.
“I’m happy to.” Said the voice.
“I can’t see you. Where are you?” The guy shouted; his hands about to slip.
“Oh you can’t see me.” Said the voice, “I’m God.”
“Oh! OK, that’s fine, I just need you to get me to safety.”
“I can do that,” said God, “I just need you to trust me and let go of the branch.”
“WHAT? You want me to let go? If I do that I’ll be smashed to bits on the rocks, and even if that doesn’t kill me, I’ll drown.”
“If you let go I’ll save you,” reiterated God. “I promise.”
The man pondered silently. Time stood still.
“Is anyone else there?” He shouted.
Whether you’re dangling thousands of feet above the rocks or overwhelmed by the junk life likes to throw our way, trusting God can seem like a gargantuan leap of faith or sheer madness.
My cancer diagnosis (rectal cancer – I know, there’s nothing sexy about it and it doesn’t come with a cuddly pink teddy bear) sent me plummeting over the cliff, leaving me clinging to that branch.
I felt trapped in a life I never signed up for, frightened I’d leave my kids motherless, and overwhelmed by what lay ahead of me. Full of anger and frustration, doubting God’s love, and even His very existence, I raged at Him in an ugly (and I mean ugly) tantrum of seismic proportions. Finally I realized I had a choice – to trust or not trust. That was it – there was no third option.
Trusting God meant taking a step towards Him, while not trusting was stepping away. Any indecision was just a veiled attempt at camouflaging my hesitation to trust Him. To paraphrase the Bard: to trust or not to trust, that was the question.
So I decided to step towards Him in trust. Unfortunately was easier said than done, and turned out to be so much harder than I anticipated.
Trusting God sounds so simple, but when life’s spinning out of control and you’re fighting to keep your head above water, it’s not easy. What if He doesn’t show up? What if He doesn’t fix it the way I need Him to? What if He lets me down? What if nothing changes? Fighting the strain of difficult circumstances we wrestle with doubts of ever finding relief in God. Despite gasping for air I was hesitant to inhale and trust God; the breath of life.
I gingerly took a step of trust and poured out the depths of my fears and anger, whispering the aches and desires of my heart. In trust I laid it all out for Him in all it’s ugly, complicated, yuckiness.
I prayed prayers like
“God, it’s me, Niki. I’m frightened I’ll leave my children motherless – they don’t deserve that. I’m furious too – how dare you allow this, after all I’ve been through, after all I’ve done for you. I’m scared you’ll leave me – I can’t do this. You’d better show up and help me or I’m never talking to you again. And I mean that.”
It wasn’t pretty, but then I’d close my eyes and breath. Breath in Jesus and breath out the fear; it was all I could do. I’d walk the dog and listen to worship music, or read devotions to glue me to the hope of God’s word.
Most of all I actively chose to believe God’s promises and trust Him, despite my emotions, the world, and even my test results telling me I was crazy.
I’d like to say once I’d made the choice to trust God I never doubted Him again, but that’s not true and you’d smell the stench of that lie a mile off. I had to step in trust daily, sometimes hourly, or even every minute. But every time I did an enormous sense of relief washed over me as a burden lifted ever so slightly. I was free to be me, free to be a mess, and free to share my doubts, needs and fears with Him. In Him all would be well. Somehow.
Much to my annoyance He didn’t immediately scoop me off my branch high above the crashing waves. He didn’t suddenly remove my pain or the difficult journey ahead, in a miracle of biblical proportions. Chemo, radiation and surgery went ahead as planned, yet in the moments I chose to let go and trust Him – He’d either catch me or teach me to fly.
I’d feel His peace, His comfort and strength. There’d be ways through seemingly impassable places, and I’d find joy in the most desolate times. In Him I found a hope that was nowhere else to be found.
I know trusting someone we can’t see or feel isn’t easy, especially when we’re treading water, barely surviving, but choosing to trust God is always a choice to grab hold of a life that wont be overwhelmed by raging seas.
Challenging times paralyze us in fear, while trusting God mobilizes us into a fuller life.
Challenging times paralyze us in fear, while trusting God mobilizes us into a fuller life. Click To Tweet
Without Him I may have survived cancer, but with Him I didn’t just survive, I began to thrive.
The world says be perfect and you can thrive in me, but God whispers In me you are perfect, now thrive. Who would you rather trust?The world says be perfect and you can thrive in me, but God whispers In me you are perfect, now… Click To Tweet
It’s such a relief to know we are free to trust Him just as we are because He loves us just as we are.
When life is hard do you naturally turn away from God or towards Him?
Whatever you’re dealing with today, can you take a step towards Him, honestly telling Him how you feel? Write your emotions in all their technicolor glory. Dear God, life’s hard right now and feel … and it’s hard to trust you because …
What small thing can you do differently today as you choose to trust Him?