God’s been teaching me a whole lot about trust lately and what it really means to follow Him.
i just recently had to write a sermon for a homework assignment, and felt like sharing it here:
have you ever done anything that tested your trust?
just last weekend, i had the opportunity to wake up at the crack of dawn to go watch the sunrise from an oklahoma mountain. now, this was no ordinary ordeal for me, and i am quite fond of the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, so i was extremely excited for this. the man who was taking us on the excursion made us try on some super neat rock climbing shoes the night before. i wasn’t quite so sure about them, but he told me to trust them, that we could practically walk straight up the side of the mountain with the traction on these things. so, long story short, we wake up, eat a nice breakfast and head off to the mountain. we get there and we start making our way up boulders. now, the ones at the beginning weren’t really all that bad, but then, about a quarter of the way up the side of the mountain, i started to see that i might not be as quite physically fit for this as i would have hoped to be. terry, our guide for the day, kept telling me that i needed to just trust the shoes. i didn’t believe him for the longest time, but eventually i started to take steps, trusting the shoes would catch the rocks and i would not fall and plummet to my demise.
one of my absolute favorite songs right now is the ever-so-popular “oceans (where feet may fail)” by hillsong united. for those of you who have never heard it before, i definitely recommend you looking it up when you have a chance – it is an incredible song, both lyrically and musically. (click here)
the song is based off of the story found in matthew 14 of peter walking on water. this passage comes at a point where Jesus had just fed the 5000 with just a little boy’s lunch. the disciples got on a boat and started heading out across the sea of galilee. late in the night, the disciples see a figure, who they think is a ghost, heading their way. they start freaking out, but Jesus quickly tells them to not worry. peter, being the sly dog he is, decides that in order to make sure it is really Jesus, he’s going to put this mysterious figure to the test. peter says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus simply replied, “come.” peter then steps out of the boat and starts walking on the water.
now, i don’t know about you, but i think that if i ever had an opportunity to do something like that in my life, i’m not so sure i would even consoled myself to actually step out the boat. but for some reason, peter did. Hh put his trust in action and he put literal feet to his faith. just like peter, God is calling us to live a life of active trust.
THE ISRAELITES LIVED A LIFE OF ACTIVE TRUST.
from the beginning of time, after the great fall of man, God has been calling His people to live a life of trust. the israelites, after they finally escaped from egypt, really had no clue what they were doing. some guy named moses had come and now they were free, but they were just wandering along, not really knowing exactly where they were going. and to be quite honest, moses didn’t know exactly where they were headed either. the LORD guided their every step – leading them by a cloud in the day time and a pillar of fire at night. all of the sudden, the israelites find themselves with the egyptians raging from one side and the red sea raging on the other, and they start to doubt their decision to trust this man who was leading them. then, moses utters some incredible words with an impeccable promise, “the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” the LORD then immediately responds and tells moses to stretch out his hands and a miracle happens, the waters part, and the israelites walked upon dry land!
of course, this didn’t keep the israelites satisfied for very long, and they started to complain yet again, for the situation that was before them. but, great leaders, such as moses, helped continue to lead them in lives of obedience and trust, with the promise of the Messiah, who would one day conquer all. the Messiah they were hoping for eventually came, but not in a way they were expecting.
JESUS LIVED A LIFE OF ACTIVE TRUST.
and thousands of years after the israelites walked on that dry ground and followed the cloud and fire, Heaven and earth collided for the first time since after the fall, in a cataclysmic event in the womb of a young girl named mary. this defining moment of glory changed the world forever.
Jesus’ entire life was a life led in humble obedience to His Father’s will. He walked on the streets, cured the sick, healed the lame, fed the crowds, and ushered in His Kingdom. every moment was the active choice to simply trust His Father’s plan and do whatever it took to redeem His precious creation.
perhaps the most defining moment of this trust is displayed in the garden of gethsemane, the night of his betrayal. Jesus pours His heart out to the Father and starts to sweat drops of blood, because of the amount of anxiety He is feeling in this moment. He knew that the moments that would follow would cost Him His very life, and would force Him to die an excruciating and humiliating death, bearing all the sin of His fallen creation. and yet, He did it anyway. why? because He pursued a life of perfect trust in His Father’s will and plan. He knew the necessity behind all of these actions. He knew the consequences – He counted up the cost and knew that His Bride was worth it. His life of trust and obedience in death brought us life through the gift of His Spirit.
THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO LIVE A LIFE OF ACTIVE TRUST.
the days between Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and the Holy Spirit’s arrival on the day of pentecost are some of the coolest days in christian history. i could not imagine being able to be an eyewitness to those different events and see God work in incredible ways on a personal level, that He had not been able to do after the fall.
as Jesus was departing, He gave us the “great commission” where He promised to be with us as we go out into the world and bring people into His Kingdom. He promised to be with us as we live a life after His, a life of active trust and obedience to the Father, no matter what the cost.
and the coolest thing about it is that He kept His promise and not too much long after He ascended up to Heaven in His resurrected body, His Spirit was poured out on the believers at pentecost! and this Spirit wasn’t just some puny version of Himself, but it was, and is, part of His very nature (the Trinity). Jesus said that this Spirit would be powerful, and for those who allowed it to live inside of them, it would change their lives. His Spirit is powerful. it is quite literally the same power that allowed Jesus to burst forth from the grave in glorious day that is now allowed to live inside of us!
how quickly we forget about the power that lives inside of each of us who call Christ our Lord and Savior! as paul says to timothy, the Spirit is not one of timidity, or fear and trembling, but one of POWER! because of His Spirit, we are now a new creation, and He leads us in the process of holiness and sanctification, one step at a time. and that’s all He’s calling us to. a life of simple obedience – a life of active trust in Him and His Spirit’s transforming power in our lives, to become more and more like Him each and every day.
in the story of peter walking on water, we are so quick to criticize him for turning his eyes off Jesus. but we forget the moment of him actively trusting in Jesus, getting out of the boat and walking on water, even if it was just for a split second. it is this active step of trust that Jesus is calling us to and continual steps every day forward.
when i finally started to put trust in my rock climbing shoes, and also in terry, in his expertise, i started to discover that i really am not as limited as i think that i am. i climbed boulders i would have never even thought it possible to climb before. i reached new heights, able to see a whole new view of God’s glorious landscape, all while standing on a little ledge of a rock. with the help of the shoes and my friends cheering me on, i was able to climb about 800 feet of boulders that morning, and got more than just a pretty view at the top. that rock climbing experience brought forth a new-found confidence in myself. i am not nearly as limited as i think i am, and with the proper equipment, i can do things like hike 800 feet of boulders, all within a short time span of a morning sunrise.
and that’s what it’s like when we live a life trusting in the Spirit. if i trust the Holy Spirit as much as i learned to trust the shoes that day of rock climbing, i will be able to allow God’s transforming power take me to new heights. i will be a more effective proclaimer of the gospel and be able to help usher in new citizens to His Kingdom.
my favorite line in the song is found at the end of the second verse, where it states “You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now.” God is the most constant, most faithful, most reliable, most trustworthy Being. ever. just as peter was able to take several steps and walk on water, so can we live a life of active trust in God, where we follow wherever His Spirit leads.
are you ready to go to a place where your trust is without borders?
i know i am.
it’s scary, but it’s oh, so worth it.