Over the last few months God has been reminding me that I need to trust him more. On at least three different occasions the theme of trust in God has come up in completely different ways. Once he spoke to me through an article on Sin, once through the Gospel of Luke, and finally through a Pentecostal pastor while on retreat.
I got married in August 2011 and except for my marriage, it has been a pretty crappy year. We lived in what can only be described as a ghetto, complete with creepy crawlers. The year was filled with health problems and other strange occurences. Regardless of whether you think it was just “back luck”, or a deliberate spiritual attack, it definitely takes a toll on the “Trust-in-God-O-meter”.
Fast forward to today and life has improved in many respects. We have moved to a far cleaner, safer, and overall better neighborhood. I am very close to finishing my degree and as such am in job hunting mode. I don’t have to run out and take a McJob right away. I’ve had a rough summer of spending most of it alone as my wife goes to work and me staying home to work on essays. I’m an introvert, but I still need meaningful contact with people so it’s been a bit depressing this summer and adding a job hunt to the mix doesn’t help things.
It is perhaps timely then that I get these messages to trust in God more (or sometimes, just to trust in him period). To be honest, sometimes it was probably more like God was waving saying “remember me? how about including me in your life – things work better that way”.
It’s a difficult thing to realize that you haven’t been relying on God has much as you thought you were, especially when you dare think you might become a pastor (still working on my internal issues regarding that).
The first of the three occurrences happened while reading an article from Relevant magazine entitled “Why doesn’t anybody talk about sin?”). While the message about sin was important, most importantly it referred me to James’ letter to Jewish Christians. I decided to read the letter in full, but didn’t make it very far. I stopped at James 1:6-8.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (English Standard Version)
This admonishment not to doubt struck me hard. The ESV Study Bible notes that “vacillating between trusting God and trusting the world or one’s own natural abilities . . . makes a person like a wave of the sea, a picture of instability and uncertainty. . . a person who doubts God’s goodness dishonors him . . . He is a double-minded man, that is, in “two-minds,” torn between God and the world, and is therefore unstable in all his ways”.
To say I’ve been feeling unstable is an understatement. It’s hard to be alone all day, even for an introvert. Harder still is not knowing where all this is leading me. I need a job, I want a job. What will that job be? I have no idea.
This verse in James hit me with a shudder. Sometimes we (I) abuse God’s grace by thinking that doubt is ok. We have to make a distinction here. Doubt may be “natural” because our intellect and reason are imperfect as a result of the fall, but that doesn’t make it ok. It’s no more acceptable to have doubt, then it is to have pre-marital sex just because we feel like it.
Yes, God understands our struggles, he understands our difficulties, but that doesn’t mean he relaxes his holy standards. Unbelief is the gravest of sins and we must work against doubt. To help us do that we must look to God for wisdom. We must pray and we must read Scripture. As a result of these tasks, we then have to do what he tells us to do.
This is hard for us to do. He tells us to do hard things. He tells us to confess our sins — and not just on the day we profess our faith. Worse still, he tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another…” (James 5:16).
I think in our post-reformational mindset, because we know we can pray directly to Christ and don’t want to “be Catholic” (gasp) we don’t believe in confessing to anyone. The wisdom found in James is profound (what else would you expect from God). God knows it can be difficult (or even too easy) to confess your sins to him, we can’t see him. Confessing our sins to another person is hard, which is why we don’t do it. Admitting to another person we have failed can be heart-wrenching. That’s the point though. Sin is horrible, it only results in death and it should be hard to talk about it.
This is why we need to trust God. We need to trust that he will honour our struggles so long as we repent, confess and seek his wisdom for our lives.
Next up: “Trust” in the Gospel of Luke