And if we take God’s promises seriously, we have absolutely nothing to fear. It’s like the most common command in Scripture. You know what the most common command is? Do not be afraid.
- For those of you facing discouragement or heartache, God says, “I will give strength when you need it.”
- For those facing sickness or health issues, God says, “I will heal and bring hope.”
- For those facing financial distress, God says, “I will provide as you need.”
If you are willing to trust the God who says, “I will,” nothing that is of eternal value in life is in any way at risk. You have nothing to fear. You are indeed and finally in good hands.
Now, as good as this sounds and it is good news that is at the heart of our gospel, there is a catch. There is one line of fine print. God says you have to trust Him. God says to Abraham, “You now have to trust Me with all of the details of that picture of your future you hold so tightly.” And guess what? This kind of trust is going to feel risky because there are a lot of unknowns. There are a lot of uncertainties, a lot of twists and turns. There are a lot of paths that we are called to take where we do not see how these things will turn out.
Look back at what God calls Abraham to do. God says, “Go.”
Abraham says, “Where?”
God says, “To the land I will show you.”
Abraham says, “Where is that?”
God says, “You’ll have to wait and see.”
“Wait and see? This is my life here. Wait and see?”
This is not easy. This kind of faith is risky feeling. It’s difficult. And if you keep reading the story of Abraham, you find that when Abraham finally gets to this land God has shown him, there are Canaanites living there… And he has to keep moving. And he ends up in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere.
And the Bible says he is calling on the name of the Lord…and he’s probably calling God all sorts of names at this point. And then there is a great famine in the land. He ends up in Egypt… “I risked all of what I had so safe and secure in my hands, and now what do I have?” Life did not turn out the way Abraham expected.
Life probably for you has not turned out exactly the way you expected. And in fact, much of what Abraham had, much of what gave him security and confidence, much of what allowed him to feel comfortable and content, God said, “You need to leave that behind. You need to trust Me. You need to stop clinging to it with all your might and open your hands and trust Me with it.” And we all face situations in life where we have to choose whether or not we’re going to do that. … trust is a choice.
God can be faithful to you, and you can find peace without any strings attached. And what a blessing it is to know that and live in that. And what peace and freedom that brings, that so few of us with so much of this actually know.
You see, the reality is, this kind of trust is really, really difficult, and most of us can’t handle the waiting, the uncertainty, all the what-if’s. And we start to go out and look for ways we can fill in the blanks. Make sure we have a way to sort of compensate for God if He doesn’t fulfill His promise. Fill in for God’s promises if they don’t come through the way that we hope for, which is exactly what Abraham did. This is a fascinating moment, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.”
Lot went with him. Didn’t God say, “Leave your family and your father’s household behind”? But Abraham takes his nephew. Why? We see God’s promise of making Abraham a great nation meant that Abraham would need a child. But Abraham is already 75 years old, and his wife Sarah is unable to have children, so Abraham tries to fill in the gaps where things look impossible, where it seems like God has let him down. And he takes his nephew so they will have a family line. He takes his nephew in case they need a child of promise.
Abraham is basically saying, “God, I know You promised to take care of me. It all sounds really great, but things here on earth, things here in my life, they don’t look so promising. The circumstances don’t look so great. And I’ll sleep a lot better if I deal with this child of promise in my own way, in my own time, as I see fit.”
And of course if you know the story, every time Lot shows up, there seems to be just another problem. Lot takes the land God promised to Abraham. Lot gets himself in trouble in Sodom and Gomorrah because Lot wasn’t supposed to be there. Lot was not the child of promise. Isaac will be. But they couldn’t see it. They couldn’t wait for it. They couldn’t handle the uncertainty. They couldn’t handle the what-if’s.
They couldn’t handle the question, what if God doesn’t do what He said He would ? How am I supposed to be generous with my resources when I feel so strapped? How am I supposed to be freely giving of my time when I feel like I have so little of it? How am I supposed to think about behaving ethically or with good morals at work or in relationships when I need to make sure I get to the top or have what I want? How do I know if I can depend on God ?
It’s hard to live with uncertainty. It’s hard to live with the what-if’s. What does that mean in your life today?
What is the heavy burden you carry? What is the anxiety that is deep down in your bones? What makes you chase after God’s promises in your own way? If we are honest, we cling to our lives thinking, This is the only way I’ll be happy and whole. This is the only way that I’ll be peaceful and content. But there has to be a better way.
But we all need to hear again the words of Jesus, “Come back to Me, you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens. Let go of that picture of your life you think you cannot live without, and instead, take on My purpose. Take on My direction. Take on My care. Take on My provision. And you shall find rest with Me and Me alone.”
There is no lasting peace or joy or contentment in this life without Jesus at the very center of our lives. And if you have tried any other tactic other than Jesus, then you know well the restlessness I’ve been talking about. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be different..
And all it takes is a moment where you, as Abraham did, relinquish your grip over that life, that picture of your future that you have, and say, “Jesus, I want to trust You with that. Even if it means risking all the stuff I think valuable, I want to trust You with that.”And God may already be putting something on your heart that you know you need to let go of, or at least hold with open hands today and this week.
How can I trust Jesus more ? First suggestion would be this: Start listening for God to speak to you in the present. Start listening for God to speak to you here and now. At the very core of Christian spirituality is a God who speaks. Abraham’s life is changed because God spoke to him, and he was listening. And the same can be true for you today, this week.
We serve a God who has life-changing words for us all the time every day.