What it Means to Trust the Lord
Charles Naylor, 1920
Throughout the Bible, we are exhorted again and again to trust in the Lord. We are warned against trusting in princes, in riches, or in ourselves — for all such trust is vain. Trusting in the Lord is represented as being safe, as blessed, and as producing very desirable results. In it is our hope, our strength, our safety, and our help.
But what does trust mean? It does not mean carelessness or indifference. Just to let things go and say, "Oh, I guess it will come out all right" — is not trusting. Just drifting heedlessly with the tide, is not trust. Neglect is not trust. Trust is something positive. It is a real something, not a mere perhaps-so or maybe-so. It is a definite attitude of soul and mind — a realization of our own need, and of God's sufficiency. It is the reaching out and anchoring of ourselves in God.
The soul who really trusts, is not driven about by every wind. The waves beat against him as they beat against the anchored ship, but they cannot dash him upon the rocks; for he who trusts in God is strong, because he has the strength of God.
Trust does not mean shutting our eyes to facts. There is no such thing as "blind faith." Trust looks at things as they are. It sees the dangers that threaten, and assesses them at their true value. It sees the need — and does not try to disguise it. It sees the difficulties — and does not discount them. But seeing all this, it looks beyond and sees God, its all-sufficient help. It sees him greater than the needs or the dangers or the difficulties, and it does not shrink before them.
There is no fear in trust — the two are opposites. When we really fear — we are not fully trusting. When we trust — fear gives way to assurance. Fear is tormenting. How many there are who are constantly agitated by fear! They fear the devil, trials, temptations, the wind, lightning, burglars, and a thousand other things. Their days are haunted by fear of this thing or that. Their peace is marred and their hearts are troubled. For all this, trust is the cure. I do not mean to say that if you trust, nothing will ever startle you or frighten you, or that you will never feel physical fear in time of danger; but in such times trust will bring to us a consciousness that the Lord knows and cares, and that his helping presence is with us.
When John Wesley was crossing the Atlantic from England to America to become a missionary to the Indians, the ship on which he was sailing encountered a terrible storm. It seemed that those on board would be lost. Many were much alarmed and were in deep distress. Wesley himself was one of this number. In the midst of the storm, his attention was attracted to some Moravians who sat calm and undisturbed by the dangers surrounding them. Wesley greatly wondered at their untroubled appearance. He inquired why it was. Their reply was that they were trusting in the Lord, and that they had in their souls the consciousness of his protecting presence and care. They felt no fear, because there was nothing threatening that a Christian had need to fear. Mr. Wesley did not have such an experience, but what he learned from those simple-hearted people caused him to seek a similar experience.
There is no worry in trust. When we worry about anything — that means that we have not committed it to God. Trust takes away the anxiety. So many people use up a large portion of their energy in worry. There is always something troubling them. Their days and nights are full of anxiety. Worrying becomes a fixed habit with them. Peace and calmness and assurance find but little room in their lives.
The cure for all this is trust. Trust brings confidence. Trust whispers to our souls that there is no cause to worry. It tells us that God holds the helm of our vessel. It bids us to be of good courage, assuring us that God is our refuge and strength, that our lives and all are in his hands, and that he will work out for us the things that are best.
O soul, stop worrying — and trust! It is so much better. If you find yourself worrying — then stop right there. Take your eyes off the things that trouble you — look up, and keep looking up until you see God and his infinite care for you. Remember that when you worry, you are not trusting — and that when you trust, you are not worrying. Worry depresses, discourages, and weakens. It never helps us in any way. It is always a hindrance to us. God wants to bring into our lives a peaceful calm like that of a summer evening. He would have us without anxiety, as care-free as the birds or the lilies. It is trust which brings us this experience. Will you not learn to trust? "Casting all your care on him — for he cares for you!"
There is no murmuring in trust. When all is trusted into God's hands, it brings to us a feeling of satisfaction concerning God's dealings with us. We can sing from our hearts, "God's way is best — and I will not murmur." When we trust, it is easy to praise. When we trust, the heart is full of thankful appreciation. If you are inclined to murmur — it is because you do not trust.
There is no feeling of bitterness when things do not go as we think they should, if we are trusting. Bitterness comes from rebellion, and there is no rebellion in trust. Trust can always say, "Not my will, but may your will be done."
In trust there is peace — the peace of God which passes understanding. There is calm in the soul of him who trusts. There is no doubt in trust, for doubt is swallowed up in assurance, and assurance brings calmness and peace.
Trusting brings confidence. It permits us to see God in his true character. It causes us to realize the greatness and tenderness of his love. It gives us a consciousness of his might, and through it we are sheltered under his wings. By it, our enemies lose their power; and our dangers lose their terrors. We have a consciousness of safety — and that brings rest.
He has said, "You shall find rest for your souls." He who trusts finds this soul-rest. God does not want our souls turmoiled and troubled. He has said, "In me you shall have peace"; and again, "My peace I give unto you." Are not these precious promises? Are they true in your life? God means that they shall be. Trust will make them real to you. They never can be real — until you learn to trust. Trust is the root that upholds and nourishes the tree of Christian life. It is trust that causes it to blossom and to bring forth fruit. The more fully you trust — the greater and richer and more profuse will be your fruits of righteousness.
I have told you something about trust, but I now wish to speak of some other things that belong to trust.
Trust implies submission. Very often God fails to do things for us, because we want to plan for ourselves. We want things to be done in the way that seems best to our finite wisdom.
Too many of us are like a woman whose husband recently said that they had often gone driving together, that their horse would sometimes become frightened, and that when it did, his wife would also become frightened and would almost invariably seize the reins. Thus, he would have to manage both his wife and the horse, making his task doubly difficult.
How many of us are just like that woman! When anything threatens, we become alarmed and try to help God. We feel that it is not safe to leave all in his hands, and let him manage the circumstances. Our failure to submit to him often complicates matters, and it is harder for him to manage us than it is to manage the difficulties. To trust God means to keep our hands off the reins! It means to let him have his way and do things as he thinks best. It may be a hard lesson to learn, but you will be hindered until you learn it.
"It is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). If your life is submitted to him — then he will work in you to will as well as to do. He will do the planning, as well as the working out. He will aid you in the choosing, no less than in the doing. If you cannot submit to him thus — then you have not reached the place where you can trust. You must first learn to take your hands off yourself and off circumstances — then trust will be natural and easy. How can you trust him, if you are not willing for him to do just as it pleases him? When you have submitted all and he has his way fully with you — then the blessed fruitfulness of trust will come into your life.
Trust also implies obedience. It means working with God to produce the results. We cannot sit down and fold our hands in idleness — and expect things to work themselves out. We must be workers — not shirkers. The man who prays for a bountiful harvest but prepares no ground and plants no seed — will pray in vain. Faith and works must go together. We must submit to God to 'direct' our efforts and 'command' our efforts. We must be willing to work when he wants us to work — and in the way he wants us to work. Our attempts to trust will amount to nothing — if we are not willing to obey.
Right here is the secret of many people's trouble; they are willing to obey so long as the thing commanded is what they themselves would choose — but when it is otherwise, they are not so ready. Our obedience must be full and willing — or we cannot trust.
Trust implies patience. God does not work everything out immediately. We are told that "you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). So many times we want the answers to our prayers right away. If they do not come thus, we grow impatient and think God is not going to answer. There is no use trying to hurry the Lord — we shall only be hindered if we do. He will not work according to our plans — but according to his own. Time does not matter so much to the eternal One, as it does to us.
A brother once told me his trouble, "When I want anything done, it has to be done in a hurry." Many other people cannot be patient and wait. They want it 'now'. This is a great hindrance to their faith. The Psalmist says, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him" (Psalm 37:7). We are not only to wait patiently for him to work out his purpose — but we are at the same time to 'rest' in him. Some people can wait — but they cannot rest at the same time. They are uneasy and impatient; they want to hurry the Lord all the time. The result usually is that their faith does not last very long. You must add patience to your faith to make it effective. If you really trust, you can be patient. It may not always be easy — but the more perfect your trust, the easier it will be to be patient.
When Luther was summoned to the trial on a charge of heresy, his friends, fearing for his life, tried to persuade him not to go; but he declared that he would go — even if there were as many devils there as there were tiles on the housetops. He trusted God, and that trust gave him an unwavering courage. The three Hebrew youths trusted God, and the fiery furnace could not even singe their garments. Daniel trusted God, and the hungry lions could not touch him. Many thousands of others have trusted God with similar results.
But trusting God is an active, positive thing. A passive submission or surrender to circumstances, is not trust. Trusting the Lord to save us, means to definitely rely on him to do it; to confidently expect that he will do it. This leads directly to the confident trust that he does do it. It brings the conscious assurance that it is an accomplished fact. We are not left to doubt, to hope, or to guess; but we have a positive trust that brings a positive result.
The same is true of the Christian life. It is only when faith begins to waver and doubts appear, that the experience becomes uncertain. If you will maintain a positive faith, God will take care of your experience. Here lies the secret of continuous victory. There may be conflicts, but faith is the foundation of sure victory.
It is safe to trust in the Lord. Isaiah says, "I will trust and not be afraid" (Isaiah 12:2). That is the way God wants us to trust. He would have us be confident in him. But sometimes we get to looking at circumstances, and they loom up so threateningly before us that in spite of ourselves we tremble and shrink before them. We believe that God will take care of us and help us — but we cannot quiet our fears. Our feelings are very much as they are when we stand just outside the bars of the cage of a ferocious wild beast. We know it cannot reach us; we know we are safe from those powerful teeth and claws — but still we cannot help having a feeling that we would not have, were we somewhere else. When he comes to our side of the cage, we shrink involuntarily, but still we trust the iron bars and do not run away.
The Psalmist tells us what to do when we have such fears. "Whenever I am afraid — I will trust in you" (Psalm 56:3). Still keep trusting. God will not chide you for the fears you cannot help, but only for those that come from unbelief. Trust in God. It is the safest thing you have ever done — he will never fail you.