I wonder if trusting in God is easier when a situation is far out of our control.
When my heart is really troubled and I’m super upset, I run to God because there is nowhere else to go, because I have no idea what to do. But if my heart is only partially troubled, then I can solve for myself. I run elsewhere: Starbucks, my phone, the freezer door where I keep the chocolate…
Every day I face “partially troubled” moments. Less often, I face moments of complete despair.
In John 10, Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd, the One who cares for us, his sheep. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10: 27).
It’s easy to dismiss everyday stresses and fill my life with coffee, screen time and chocolate (specifically, Reese’s pieces cookies from Aldi…). But if I turn to those things instead of turning to God and trusting in Him, then his voice will grow fainter, and worse, I’ll become less familiar with Him.
I know, it’s so basic and might seem so obvious, but I find myself needing this reminder over and over again. Turning to things other than God is just so much easier and provides such immediate gratification.
But like with anyone you turn away from when things get tough – it ruins the relationship.
Years ago, I did a summer mission trip. Upon arrival, I sat in a large room with about 120 other college students, and a leader told us that by the end of summer, we would be able to recognize each person’s voice. Yeah right, I thought.
But as that summer came to a close, I would sit in that same large room with my eyes closed, playing a game with myself to see if I could name each person as they spoke. And the leader was right. I had spent so much time with that group of students that summer that I could discern each of their voices.
This is what I have learned – God speaks to us in a lot of different ways: through his Word, sermons, prayer, wisdom in others, life events, dreams… he can communicate however he wants. But like all those students’ voices were so unfamiliar to me at the beginning of that summer, God’s voice will remain unfamiliar to us if we aren’t regularly spending time with Him.
God cares about every detail of our lives. He wants us to come to him, always, for everything. He wants to lead us. He wants to shepherd us.
Before Jesus died, he told his disciples to not let their hearts be troubled. He told them to trust God. To trust Him. Because he was going to prepare a place in Heaven for his people. But it didn’t mean fluffy comforters and cute throw pillows. It meant standing in their place, bearing the weight of God’s wrath for their sin. For our sin.
Though it cost him everything, he went all the way for us.
Guaranteed, we will mess things up. But praise God because the work is already finished. For anyone who receives him, Jesus wipes away our sins and fills the resume with his righteous deeds. The point of us coming to the Lord is not so we get it right or earn favor or repair what’s broken. The point is relationship. Worship. To enjoy God. To love him because we are already loved by him.
Starbucks, my phone, the decadent soft cookies from Aldi… they don’t care about me. But Jesus? He cares. And he calls us to not let our hearts be troubled. He calls us to counter the trouble with trust.
Trust him, go to him, learn his voice and be shepherded by him.
And from the opposite end – To the one who is doing everything they can, all the studies, all the prayers, all the “things” and still feeling lost:
I was sitting outside one night, half praying, half thinking, worrying about missing God’s direction. What if I wasn’t praying enough? What if I wasn’t listening enough? What if I was blinded by a sin I didn’t even realize?
And as I sat there, God reminded me – there is nothing I could ever do to silence his voice.
The love that God has for us is so vastly more than we can even grasp. And it isn’t based on the greatness of our faith or the efforts of our Bible and book studies. His love is based on his character – his character that doesn’t falter and doesn’t change.
Rest in his love. Believe the things he has said. Love him and pour your heart out to him. Do it again and again and again. And trust him. Trust his timing, trust the knowledge and wisdom he’s already given you, and let him shepherd you. He will not let you get lost.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered… the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O Lord… let it be known today that you are God in Israel… Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice… – 1 Kings 18:26, 36-38
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:11
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:13-14
Pray continually – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:2
Read: John 10:1-21
Consider: What stands out to you? What does this passage teach you about Jesus?
Think back, how have you seen the Lord “go ahead” of you (vs 4)?
What does it mean to be known by Jesus (vs 14)?
What impact does it make to consider Jesus’ authority (vs 18) and what he did with his authority?
Spend some time discussing this passage with a small group.