Thinking about all that God has taught me in the last four months nearly makes my head spin (or maybe it was just the coffee I drank). I took some time the last few days to ponder the lessons God has been teaching me since He directed me to go to India. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is about Trust.
It has been my prayer, for quite some time now, that God would teach me to trust Him more. When I started praying that prayer, I didn’t realize how it might change my life. I didn’t really consider the path God might take me down in order to teach me to trust Him. I think I thought God would change me overnight. That one day I would suddenly just know how to trust Him. That one day I would go from not knowing how to trust God to the next being able to trust Him completely. But that isn’t how God works. I am not a robot and instead of being programmed I am taught. In order for me to learn something, there must be repetition and practice. I can’t simply read God’s word and expect an instant change. I actually have to take action, I have to live it.
In teaching me to trust Him, God has led me into situations far out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t take much to trust God in the places I feel comfortable in or that I can handle by myself. It is when things are completely out of my control that I learn to trust in the Lord with all my heart. Trust doesn’t come easily. Trust requires a choice. Standing still is not Trust. In order to actually trust God I have to pick up my feet and take a step forward. I have to step out and take the first step trusting that God will show me the next one. Each step doesn’t necessarily get easier, but learning to trust God means taking each step in spite of feelings of fear. The choice to trust God must override the temptation to fear. Trusting God means stepping forward in whatever directions He leads and leaving the outcome up to Him.
God says His word is a lamp for my feet and a light to my path. When I first learned that verse (Psalm 119:105) the idea in my head was a bit skewed. The image in my head was of a path, yes, but the surroundings were clearly in view just as they are in broad daylight. If God’s word is a lamp, there is a problem with the picture I had in my head. A lamp is not needed in full daylight. If the world around me were a bright place, I wouldn’t be in need of a lamp. God’s promise to light my path is evidence that the path may not appear clear; I may not be able to see the whole path ahead of me. Instead of promising a clear view of the entire trail, God promises His word as a guiding light.
At night, a lamp only shines out enough to see the next few steps. In order to see further, I must hold the lamp out in front of me and move forward one step at a time. Trusting God works the same way. In order to see the path ahead, I have to be reading His word and using its light to guide me in taking the next step.
God is teaching me to trust Him, for sure, but He is also making it clear to me how important it is to put trust into practice. Trust isn’t something that becomes a constant habit. In order to continue trusting God, I have to practice it each and every day.
When God directed me to go to India for the summer, I could have stood still. I could have complained about it not being what I expected or wanted. Instead I prayed that God would help me to trust Him. In spite of the fear that left me trembling, I had to make the choice to step forward. Once I made that choice I was fully dependent on God. The whole idea of going to India was God’s and the events surrounding it were out of my control. Once I took the first step by applying to go to India, I had to keep trusting in God’s faithfulness. At first the fundraising for the trip seemed daunting. I knew God was calling me to go to India, but had to trust Him to make the way before me. I was asked the question, “If God doesn’t provide the funds, will that be God telling you not to go?” With that as a possibility, I had to surrender my fears and my dreams and allow God to take control. God made it pretty clear what His answer was. Within a month and a half God had provided all of the funds I needed to go to India. Once the funds were raised, everything appeared to be set. All was going as “planned”. Then, about two weeks ago my team and I found out we would need to apply for Visas in order to get into India. I applied and within twenty-four hours received an email letting me know my application had been rejected. I almost could have laughed. I could see what God was doing. He took the situation that I thought was under control, out of my hands again. Even though the Visa seemed like such a simple thing, I had to trust God completely. Staying up all night on the phone with India got me nowhere. God gave me no other option but to entrust the visa to Him and to wait patiently. A week later, after much prayer, my Visa was granted. I am learning even now, how important it is to trust God each day with every little thing. Trusting God in the big things seems obvious and it seems like if I can trust God with the big things, it should be easy to trust Him with the smaller ones. Sometimes though, God has to take the small things I think I have under control out of my control in order for me to learn to trust Him fully.