A man was out jogging one day and slipped and fell off a cliff. Grabbing hold of a branch on the way down, he found himself stranded and began to scream, “Help, is there anyone up there who can hear me?” He yelled for hours and was about to give up when he heard a voice. “ “Yes, I can hear you and see you. Are you alright?” “Yes, but...who are you and where are you?” “I am the Lord, I am everywhere.” “The Lord? You mean God?” “That’s me.” “God, help me, I promise that if you get me down from here, I’ll stop sinning. I’ll be a really good person and serve you for the rest of my life.” “Easy on the promises. First let’s get you down, then we can discuss all that.” “I’ll do anything, Lord, just tell me what to do.” “Okay, let go of the branch.” “What?” “I said, let go of the branch. Just trust me, let go.” There was a long pause of silence and then a cry, “Help, is there anybody else up there?”
Trust can be a huge challenge for us, especially when it comes to God. Every time we pull out some money, we’re confronted with “In God We Trust.” But do we? Trusting God is easier said than done. If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us will trust some parts of our life to God but everything? What does it really mean to trust God? Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The word for trust here in the Hebrew means “to put all of your weight.” An example would be when you go to bed, you lie down trusting that the bed will fully support you. When you put all your trust in God, you put all your weight on Him. And that is why God says in our text, “with all your heart”. You either give Him all your trust or none at all. Half hearted trust is wholehearted doubt.
One cause of our trust issues is worry. Is anybody willing to admit to worrying too much in your life? All right, I’m in the right place. You see, worry and anxiety are the result of our struggle to trust God. We struggle with worry in just about every area of our lives: our decisions, our careers, our job, our money, the purpose and direction of our lives, our relationships and the list could go on and on. And yet, in our Scripture today, Jesus tells us to put our trust, our whole hearted trust, in God. Here is the challenge: our struggle to trust God, left unchecked, leads to worry and anxiety.
One capability that sets us apart from all other creatures God created is to plan our future but that can lead to worry. So here’s what happens: we lay out our plans, but then when things don’t go as planned, if we are not careful, we begin to worry. Worry comes in T-shirt sizes - small, medium, large and extra large. We have small worries like, “Will I be on time for my lunch appointment?” We have medium size worries like, “Will my next project at work be a success?” We have large size worries like “How will my kids turn out?” And then we have extra large worries like, “Am I living out my God-given purpose?” Or “Am I going to heaven?” And what happens is that we don’t just worry a little while and then set it down. We carry it around with us wherever we go and end up shouldering a burden God never intended!
The result? We lose our perspective. We begin to focus on the wrong things in life. We begin to focus on what’s not happening rather than what can happen. “For with God, all things are possible.” If we don’t turn it over to God, then we get worn out and worry, and worry’s sisters, fear and anxiety grip us. And it begins to interfere with our life and our relationship to God. We have difficulty understanding the Word of God. We don’t know which direction to go and we cannot figure out which voice is God’s from the other voices. We can become paralyzed by fear and worry and then are unable to live the life that God intended.
Nowhere does Jesus say, “I have come so that you might have worry and anxiety and you might have it more abundantly.” No – Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it in more abundantly.” John 10:10 If we’ re going to experience life to the fullest, then we’re going to have to deal with the worry which strikes us when things turn out differently than planned. In our Scripture today, Jesus is saying, “Look, you don’t have to worry about all that stuff. Your Father in heaven has already worked it out while you were trying to figure it out!” That is what Jesus is trying to tell us this morning. In Matthew 6, we read that once, not twice, but three times, Jesus tells us not to worry but to trust God.
So how can we learn to trust God? First, remember God cares. Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Sometimes we forget that we are God handiwork but more than that we are God’s prized creation. Both Genesis 1-2 creation stories place us as the pinnacle or crowning achievement of God’s creating acts. Say it with me, “I am a child of God in whom Christ dwells.” That means that God care for you more than you can imagine. You might feel like life is out of control and that you are all alone, but God is saying, “You’re mine. I am with you;” The love that God has for us and the value we hold in His eyes is shown in our every need being provided for, from food on the table, clothes on our back to a roof over our head. God cares for us deeply for us. Peter puts it this way in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” Sometimes we need a way of remembering, an action step, that we can use to remember that God cares for us. Late at night, before you lay down, recite the 23rd Psalm which reminds us that when we face the greatest challenges of life, even death, God cares for us, will always be there for us and will always provide for us.
Second, remember who God is. In Psalm 27, King David was thinking about the trouble that he was about to face, but he says, “Wait a minute! The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, who shall I be afraid of?” He reminds himself that there is nothing bigger than the God he trusts in. There were times when King David looked back over his life and remembers when God brought him through a tragedy, a crisis or a overwhelming problem. We can do the same thing and recall the times when brought you through and then say, “God if you carried me through that, you can surely take care of this.” For God is never outnumbered, never outweighed, and never outmatched. Action Step: when worry strikes, recall the qualities and characteristics of God.
Third, remember God knows your needs. Too often we wonder: “God, do you really know what I’m going through?” James Bryan Smith tells the story of meeting an English pastor named Carl. When Carl was growing up, he seldom went to church. At the age of 14, his father, with whom He was very close, was killed is a tragic work accident, which completely shattered Carl’s life. Carl blamed God. To numb his pain, he started getting into a lot of fights at school and eventually abusing alcohol. But nothing seemed to work. When Carl was 17, a friend invited him to what Carl thought was a party complete with binge drinking. He agreed but soon found out it was a Christ house party, something very common in England, where people go to a home, hang out for a few days of conversation, worship and recreation. When he found out, it was too late to back out. After the first two days, Carl still lamed God. But during a time of worship on the final day, Sunday morning, he heard a distinct voice that said, “ I am your Father, Come to me.” Carl immediately began to sob and for the very first time since the death of his Dad, his heart began to heal. Because the Father, God in Heaven knew his situation and His every need.
The God we worship is all seeing, all knowing and omnipotent.” Not only does God see you, but God is with you. For “His name is Emmanuel, God with us.” Matt. 1:23 God is right beneath you; God is in front of you and behind you. God is to your right, to your left, and God is even inside of you because, God is omnipresent, He is everywhere at all times and in all situations.” God was there yesterday with you. God is here today; and God will be there tomorrow. God knows all things and He knows the path to lead you out of whatever you are facing. This is why the writer of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your own understanding, but in all your ways, submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6 Regardless of what you’re facing, you can trust God and put your trust in him. Here’s another exercise: remember when God had been there for you in the past, understood where you were and what you were going through and provided exactly what you needed.
Lastly, change your focus. When worry grips us, it’s so easy to let that dominate our time, our thoughts and our focus. But Jesus says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Verse 33 If we just focus on the important things in life, God will take care of the rest. God will provide all that we need in life. Seek the Kingdom. So here’s your action step: When worry raises it’s ugly head, keep your eyes focused on Jesus– keep your mind fixed on the kingdom; walk where I have given you to walk and do what I have given you to do.” Why not trust God? What do you have to lose other than the burden of your worries?
John Maxwell writes in his book, “Partners in Prayer”; "In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the crops in Minnesota. So in the spring of 1877, farmers were worried. They believed that the dreadful plague would once again visit them and again destroy the rich wheat crop, bringing ruin to thousands of people. The situation was so serious that Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed April 26 as a day of prayer and fasting. He urged every man, woman and child to ask God to prevent the terrible scourge. On that day all schools, shops, stores and offices were closed for prayer. The next day dawned bright and clear. Temperatures soared to what they ordinarily were in midsummer, which was very unusual for April. Minnesotans were devastated as they discovered billions of grasshopper larvae wiggling to life. For 3 days the unusual heat persisted, and the larvae hatched. It appeared that it wouldn’t be long before they started feeding and destroying the wheat crop. But on the 4th day, the temperature suddenly dropped, and that night frost, covered the entire state. The result? It killed every one of those creeping, crawling pests as surely as if poison or fire had been used. It went down in the history of Minnesota as the day God answered the prayers of the people." And John Maxwell writes, “But understand, it was NOT the first and certainly was NOT the last time that Almighty God answered the prayers (and met the needs of) his people. Because God can always be trusted.