Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Last week I let you guys know how much I appreciate you, (and I do) but this week I need to let you know that we are FAMILY now. I’ve let you into my thoughts, into my world, and into my views and now you can sit anywhere you wish. Open up the fridge (Only open it though. I don’t even let my family eat my food.) and make yourself at home and let’s make this family even bigger this week.
To my very aware family members, you’ll notice something a little different this week involving the title. The past six blogs I’ve written have all been two word titles: “Ask Yourself,” “Not Fair,” “Separation Anxiety,” “Creative Control,” “Texting & Driving,” and “Free Indeed.” As a matter of fact, every title has been pretty cut, dry, and absolute. However, this week is completely different. First *gasp* there are THREE words! Second, there’s a question mark. Now it’s time to question the thought process we sometimes adapt in our battle of getting to the other side; and that is the thought process that “any which way will do.”
I had no plans of finishing this blog this week. I had actually planned out my procrastination (you have to be a next level procrastinator to do that), but I believe the Lord had other plans. This morning He began to speak to me about some things that will make this post come alive in your world today.
The genesis of this blog happened about two weeks ago. It was late at night around 11:30 and I was going to get a birthday card for my sister who was turning 17 later in the week. (I was going out of town on her birthday, and that was the only reason why I’d actually be getting a card like a regular human being on time and not a few hours before.) I pulled into Wal-Mart and I approached the “entrance.” However, I approached the “entrance” from the “exit” doors first. As I took another step, the “entrance” door opened not even a second after the “exit” door. And there I was in the middle of the toughest decision I had made in the past five minutes. No one around… no one would see…I could save myself a few steps and walk through the exit door. It was closer and more convenient. And who doesn’t like a good shortcut? After a few seconds of thought I decided against the short cut and though I’d just go through the door that is marked ENTER. Obviously some of you are laughing right now because it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Both doors would’ve gotten me into Wal-Mart. It was late and no one was coming in or out at that time but me. It didn’t matter if I chose the door I was supposed to walk through because my situation was not dictating it. I strolled into Wal-Mart and not any sooner than I made it past the first cash registers, it hit me. In life, we will always be faced with the option of the easier way and the right way. (Notice I said easier because that’s how it is usually translated into our minds.) However, most of the time the “easier” way is the flat out wrong way. In that moment I truly feel like God spoke to me that there is always going to be more than one way to get somewhere, but there will always be a right way and a wrong way. See, your situation can’t tell you which way to choose; otherwise you will end up choosing the more convenient way more times than not. But why do we choose any which way, but the right one? Why is it even important which way we choose? And what does it take to be a person that gets to your “other side” the right way?
I was having a conversation at my barber shop while I was getting a haircut earlier this month. (For my brothers and sisters reading this that aren’t black: the most important conversations are held in the barbershop. Fact of life.) The guy I was speaking with was in his late 20’s. He was telling me about how he grew up in church and that he doesn’t necessarily believe in Christianity anymore. He proceeded to tell me how he was on a journey to uncover the truth and obtain more knowledge about our ancestry and how that relates to the Bible (which I am all for might I add). We began to discuss a myriad of topics, and I believe that the Lord really gave me some wisdom with the things I was sharing. The conversation was concluded by something I still smile at to this day and even while I write this. He was impressed by what I had to say in my backing of JESUS, my personal testimony, and my faith. But he, sadly, still wasn’t fully persuaded. He told me that he respected the journey I was on and that he was on his own as well. Then our friend then said to me, “There’s more than one way to get to this barber shop. You could go this way or you could take that way.” And he was absolutely correct. One of the pretty cool things about Shreveport is that there are multiple ways to get to a place. I appreciate that, especially whenever I come back from a big city. But in a split second I know the Lord dropped a wisdom bomb in my spirit, and I said, “You’re right there are many ways to get to the shop, but only one door to get in.” Boom. Drop the mic. Exit stage left like Randy Watson on Coming to America (for my brothers and sisters who aren’t black…well, nevermind). The excitement that I felt inward didn’t look like the peace and calmness I was exhibiting outward. You couldn’t hear a pin drop in the shop until our friend and my barber said, “That’s good.” In the barbershop world, silence and a “that’s good” is like winning an Oscar. See family, we live in a peculiar time now. More so now than ever, everybody is looking for their own personal way to get to God. But JESUS clearly states:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
Notice Jesus didn’t say TO Him; He said THROUGH Him. Plenty came TO Jesus and never went a step further. THROUGH Him intimates the passing through and being changed. If you believe in God that’s your faith. If you believe Jesus is your way to the Father, then that’s your trust.
That leads us into the meat of this blog, and that is the difference between Faith & Trust. See, in order to be a person who chooses God’s way over your own way, you have to be able to TRUST Jesus. I believe that many believers (and even non-believers for that matter) have always joined the two hand in hand. It’s like Peanut Butter & Jelly, they just go together, but they are nothing alike. (Once again, only open my fridge. Don’t take anything.) Now obviously Faith and Trust have a lot more in common than PB&J, but they aren’t the same thing.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith is a noun; it’s what we have. I have Faith in God. I believe that He is the only God. I believe that He is Elohim (Creator) that’s my substance. Substance in the Greek just means “firm foundation.” My life is based upon the firm foundation that God is real and that there is a heaven and hell. If Faith is a matte black Range Rover sport(my dream car), then Trust is the V-8 engine that makes the car go!
Trust is a verb.
Trust is what we do with our Faith. Faith is believing that God Is; Trust is believing that God does!
The reason why it’s so easy for us to trust in our own way is because, good or bad, we know we will see immediate results. Our issue with being able to operate in full-on trust in God is that He is always up to something new in our lives. He knows old ways won’t produce new fruit, but the new way is always His.
“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Let’s travel even further in our Faith/Truth journey with an example: If I have FAITH that Pizza Hut has a good stuffed crust pizza, then I TRUST that the delivery man will bring me my pizza in 30 minutes. If you don’t trust the delivery man will bring it to you in 30 minutes, (or an hour and 30 minutes for that matter) then you will put your trust in a person who can get the pizza to you quicker: yourself. If I can’t trust the delivery man, I know I’ll trust me. You’re still getting a pizza from Pizza Hut though because you have FAITH! But now the carrier by which you get your pizza has changed based on what you TRUST. So many times it’s hard for us to exercise trust in our relationship with the Lord because trust involves patience in what God is doing. If we don’t have strong enough faith that He is capable of doing what we are asking of Him, then we will put our trust in ourselves and in our ability to do.
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, (2 Corinthians 3:4-5)
The greatest lessons that I’ve learned over the past few months is that I could be smack dab (that’s the Shreveport in me, or maybe the Judy Smith in me) in the middle of my own way believing that I am actually doing God some type of service. You want to know how you can find out if the things you’re doing are His way or not: when you no longer ask Him how to do something and the only counsel that matters is you, yourself, and you (didn’t come out as well as me, myself, and I). That’s when you begin to do things that only take your ability. Newsflash: “you ain’t got the answers Sway!” And when you start believing you have the answers is when you end up in the middle of nowhere. I told a close friend last year, “A dead end is still a dead end no matter if its 50 feet ahead of you or 50 miles ahead of you.” It doesn’t matter how successful your way has been. If it’s not His way, you will eventually face its dead end. The reason I trust in God is because I have seen him make a way out of no way in my life time after time.
I had a college student ask me the other day to give them solid proof that God is real. He wanted to be given an answer that wasn’t “faith-based.” He wanted “facts.” (First off, any answer a believer gives will be faith based, but I let that slide.) I responded to his question by saying, “I can’t tell him why God or Jesus is real for him, but I can tell you why they are real to me. My life was in shambles. I was lost. I was broken. I was destitute. I was addicted to gambling, drugs, (Yes, all my stoner friends. Weed is a drug.) and women. I had known about God my entire life. I grew up in church and went to a Christian school, but when I went away to college I lost His way and found my own. In 2011 I finally decided that I was actually going to believe in who He was and my life has never been the same since! I told him that that no facts or bible verses would make him believe; but only faith can make him believe. I’ve yet to get a response from my young college friend. Maybe it wasn’t the answer he was looking for; or maybe my answer backed him into a corner where he would have to examine himself. All I know is this:
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. (Proverbs 37:23)
That’s why David is my boy! No one can ever dispute personal experience. I’ve actually been to En Gedi, where David was hiding out from Saul. The only way to have that kind of bold testimony of the Lord can only be by forsaking our way to follow His. I don’t want to hear anyone’s story about how they made it; but I am all ears for anyone’s story about how God delivered them. His way isn’t always smooth. But His way is always right. The truth task of our walk with Christ isn’t in our ability to move necessarily, but in our ability to move out of His way so that He can get in ours. So many times we want God to bless what we are doing, but we don’t want Him to interrupt our path. Instead of continuing in the mindset that “any which way” will do; develop the mindset that “any which way” He leads I’ll go!