“To Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul, O my God, in Thee I trust.” Psalm 25:1
I have a lot of stuff. A house, two cars, clothes, furniture, food in the fridge and pantry, money in the bank, and in retirement accounts. I have more stuff than some of you and less than others.
Stuff, in and of itself, is neither good or bad. I would not be a better person by getting rid of all my stuff. And I would not be more peaceful by acquiring more stuff.
All of this I know, but still struggle to accept it. Stuff has a certain seduction to it. It creates a false sense of permanent security. Without question, if I didn’t have money to pay my mortgage, for example, I would be unsettled and fearful. There is a kind of security that comes with stuff, and that’s not bad.
Jesus taught this very thing when He said “My peace I give to you, not a peace like the world gives” (John 14 27). There a peace that the world gives. The peace of the world, this physical, mental, emotional life, is real. I’m more peaceful in some important ways when I’m healthy, clear-headed, and happy. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of peace.
The problem comes when I make the stuff my life’s focus, and I spend a great deal of time doing exactly that. Essentially I’m trying to arrange life so that I do not have to rely on God. I’m eliminating trust, a complete reliance on God so that even when some part of the stuff fails, I remain unshaken. I’m shaken too often, and that is a deficit of trust.
My single greatest challenge is not to have more money, a larger house, a better car, etc. In fact, my challenge is to realize that I need none of those things. Ever. My greatest need is simply to trust God, who supplies all my needs and has promised to be faithful. If I can trust God then "all these things will be added to me" without my straining and worrying and or even glorying in the fact that they're mine.
Jesus' singular accomplishment was His perfect dependence upon the Father. All things in His life flowed from that relationship. As the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, Jesus, as a man, relied on God's power for all He did. The miracles were not His in that sense. It was the Father working through Him, which is precisely what He taught. The Father works through the Son.
Understanding this relationship is vital, not just as a theological or Christological curiosity, but as a pattern and example for our lives. Jesus truly did empty Himself of divinity and became fully human. He did not cease to be God, but stepped fully into the human condition. In other words, He knows precisely what it is like to live like you and me. He understands, from the limitations of being human, the challenges of being one of us.
What we find in the Gospels is a remarkable, repeated demonstration of Jesus’ full trust in the Father. He retreated from the crowds to pray to God. He relied on God during temptations. He prayed and asked for help prior to His miracles. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He knew the Father’s will for Him but did not want to fulfill it, He prayed, expressed His fears and His trust, and rose from those prayers with a renewed reliance upon God.
Most significantly, on the cross when felt abandoned by God, He found, with His last breath, the trust to commit Himself fully into the Father’s hands. Jesus was a man who trusted completely in God. He showed us the way.
The implications of this are quite staggering. With careful reverence I say that I don't think Jesus did anything I could not do if I had His complete dependence on the Father! Any good I do now is the Father flowing through me in my meager dependence on Him. If I could be free completely of the false sense of security that comes from stuff, then I would realize fully God’s complete sufficiency.
Not for a moment do I think I would ever be able to still storms, heal sickness, or raise the dead. My dependence is too weak, too beset by doubts, fears, and unwillingness. Oh, but the Father takes my little mustard seed of dependence and brings a powerful peace to my life and an abiding sense of purpose.
I’m not what I will be, thank God. But I do have enough hints to be thrilled right now by God’s presence and power. I do have moments, sometimes extended moments, of clarity when the things of earth grow strangely dim. There I find God with a simple invitation: “Trust Me.”
A while back, as I wrestled with a major decision, I was beset by fears and doubts. I called a dear friend and simply said, “Bill, I’m just scared right now. I don’t know any other way to put it. I’m just fearful.” He understood all that I was going through and listened patiently. Then he said, “Terry, God’s got this!”
He was right. My challenge during any moment of fear is simply to trust God. In fact, my fear is a tacit admission that I don’t think God is sufficient and trustworthy. But I thank God that I can call a fellow believer and be reminded that God is more powerful than my fear.
I hope I can be that reminder for you this week. You have needs that stuff can’t meet. You can’t buy your way out of the fear, or think your way out of the fear, or bend the world to your will so that you eliminate fear. No matter how much more of anything you get, the fear will still be waiting there.
And so will God with His simple promise to meet every need. The decision we all face at that moment is simply this; do we give into the fear? Or do we smile and say “God’s got this.”
Dr. Terry Ellis
June 5, 2016