Sometimes life happens faster than we can run our race. We can’t control everything that happens to us or around us. We can’t control the decisions others make that deeply affect us. Even if we’ve walked with Christ for years and allowed him to do a deep healing work inside of us, we can still find ourselves in a place we never dreamed. A place we never intended to be. A place asking ourselves, “How did I get here?”
I’ve been there. A few years ago, I found myself in a place where I wanted to take cover more than I wanted to take ground. Where I didn’t feel that I had the strength, courage, or confidence to keep going. I had never felt so vulnerable, exposed, or weak. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep pressing in and pressing on. Reaching out for what’s next. Pursuing the adventure that I always had. It wasn’t a crisis of faith; rather, it was a sober realization that, if I were to keep going, it would probably mean more sacrifice, more pain, more heartache, more exposure, more vulnerability, more attacks…even though all of that would mean more fruit.
The course Jesus had chartered for me was worthy of my continuing—because Jesus was worthy of my continuing—but somewhere I had drifted from seeing that, to losing myself in my feelings. It was my feelings that were screaming at me to pull back. I knew that I could keep going through the motions and no one would even really know I wasn’t pressing in as hard as I once was, sticking as close to Jesus as I once did. Willing to keep taking risks like I always had. No one would really know…except Jesus. He would know. And that mattered more than anything.
I found my way back. And I learned much along the way, including the understanding that there are many ways to drift—mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically—and that at some point, we’re all prone to drift.
To keep ourselves from drifting, there are times we need to hit the reset button and make sure we are trusting God more than anything and anyone else, including ourselves. We need to be checking what I call the links in our chain—the things that keep us connected to Jesus, the anchor of our soul—on a regular basis, so we don’t find ourselves drifting unaware. Then, when a crisis of any kind hits, be it a financial one, a relational one, an emotional one, a spiritual one, a career one, a health scare, or even a global pandemic, we aren’t trying to drop anchor in a storm, when all the waves are so high that they are about to overtake us. We aren’t scrambling and playing catchup on trusting God with all our hearts.
Think of it this way: On a typical bicycle chain, there is a single removeable link. It’s called the master link, though sometimes it is called a quick link or a power link. It’s what holds the rest of the chain in place. If you want to remove the chain, you first disconnect the master link.
Spiritually, this is what trust is in our lives. It’s the master link. If we don’t trust God with all our hearts and instead rely on our own understanding—in every area of our lives—then we’re more likely to drift in some area. But if our master link is intact—if we’re trusting God and God alone—it makes all our other links stay in place. It makes it easier to stay connected to God in all the ways he wants us to be connected to him.
For me to fully trust God is to place all my confidence in him—and everything about him. In fact, one Bible dictionary defines our trust as “a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of a person.” So when I start questioning God and his goodness, then I’m no longer trusting him. Maybe, when we find ourselves drifting like this, in order to stop, we need to reframe all the questions racing through our minds, especially the ones that begin with what if. You know the ones:
What if I lose my job?
What if I don’t get to finish school?
What if we get a divorce?
What if the car breaks down?
What if we lose all that we’ve worked so hard for?
What if….what if…what if….?
Maybe we need to be asking one pivotal question: “What kind of God do I believe in?”
Did you feel the shift in perspective? Ultimately, placing our trust in God is a choice. There are times we trust God because of what we can see, but there are also times when we have to trust God in spite of what we see. When we have to choose to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” I believe in a God who is good, who does good, and who is working all things together for my good, no matter what is falling apart around me. I trust in the character of God. The nature of God. No matter if I’m temporarily falling apart inside me and the world is falling apart around me. Nothing changes who he is because, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Not small problems. Not medium-sized problems. Not even pandemic-sized problems. I believe there are times, in order to stop drifting, we need to go back to what we know to be true about God.
God is good. (Psalm 119:68)
God is holy. (1 Peter 1:16)
God is love and his love endures forever. (1 John 4:7-8; Psalm 136)
God is for us. (Romans 8:31)
God sings over us and rejoices over us. (Zephaniah 3:14-17)
God is faithful to us—and he keeps all his promises to us. (Hebrews 10:23)
God fights for us. (2 Chronicles 20:15)
God is just. (Psalm 50:6; 1 John 1:9)
God is merciful and compassionate toward us. (Psalm 86:15)
God is always kind and ready to forgive us. (Psalm 86:5)
God knows all things. (Psalm 139)
God does not make mistakes. (Psalm 18:30)
God is on the throne. (Hebrews 8:1)
God is in control. (Isaiah 14:24)
And on I could go… After more than thirty years of following Jesus, there is much I still don’t understand, but God’s ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts. In fact, the Bible says they are both higher. So my starting point in wading through any confusion I might have is that God is God and I am not. If I do not understand something God is doing, it does not suggest a problem with God. It just means I don’t get it. At least, not at the moment. We rarely have the whole picture all at once. It’s like holding one piece of a jigsaw puzzle and God is holding the other 999 pieces that we don’t even know exist yet. We can’t see all that he is doing. And I know from experience that so much more is going on in the purpose of God than we can see. Some things are simply hidden from us, and just because we can’t see them—just because we can’t trace God—doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t trust God, and that he isn’t working.