Summary: Trusting God means both letting go and listening, and it means getting busy and going in the direction He leads
Trust, But Still Do Your Homework
There is an old Persian proverb, which says: “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” It acknowledges the tension we often come up against when we talk about trust – what is God’s part and what is our part? When does trust mean that we do nothing except let go and sit and wait for God? When does trust mean that we get active and make some plans and start to do things and allow God to empower and guide while we are in motion? I can tell convincing stories from both perspectives:
“Let Go”: A tourist came too close to the edge of the Grand Canyon, lost his footing and plunged over the side, clawing and scratching to save himself. After he went out of sight and just before he fell into space, he encountered a scrubby bush which he desperately grabbed with both hands. Filled with terror, he called out toward heaven, "Is there anyone up there?" A calm, powerful voice came out of the sky, "Yes, there is." The tourist pleaded, "Can you help me? Can you help me?" The calm voice replied, "Yes, I probably can. What is your problem?" "I fell over the cliff and am dangling in space holding to a bush that is about to let go. Please help me." "The voice from above said, "I’ll try. Do you believe?" "Yes, yes, I believe."’ "Do you have faith?" "Yes, yes. I have strong faith." The calm voice said, "Well, in that case, simply let loose of the bush and everything will turn out fine." There was a tense pause, then the tourist yelled, "Is there anyone else up there?"
“Get Going”: “A church member was having trouble with the concept of tithing. One day he revealed his doubts to his minister: "Pastor, I just don’t see how I can give 10 percent of my income to the church when I can’t even keep on top of our bills."
The pastor replied, "John, if I promise to make up the difference in your bills if you should fall short, do you think you could try tithing for just one month?"
After a moment’s pause, John responded, "Sure, if you promise to make up any shortage, I guess I could try tithing for one month."
"Now, what do you think of that," mused the pastor. "You say you’d be willing to put your trust in a mere man like myself’ who possesses so little materially, but you couldn’t trust your Heavenly Father who owns the whole universe!" The next Sunday, John gave his tithe, and has been doing so faithfully ever since.
In the first story, trust meant letting go. In the second, it meant doing something and trusting God to take care of the rest. On the one hand, you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t steer a boat that isn’t moving.” On the other hand, “Let go and Let God.” Do you see the tension? Does trusting mean that we do nothing and wait on God, or does it mean that we seek God actively as we get moving along?
Last week we looked at Joshua 1, and we recognized God’s promises of Victory and of His Presence with us. We saw that as we obey, and as we meditate on God’s Word, we come to experience the fulfillment of those promises. I see so much of the theme of trust in Joshua – last week discovering that the basis of our trust is in the promise of God’s presence and victory. That is what we rest on, that is why we let go and let God be in Control, that is the source of our strength and courage. This week, as we look at chapter 2, we see that letting go and letting God be in control does NOT mean that we sit around and do nothing, but rather that we act on the promises of God, that we live them out – in fact I could go further and say that we only really experience the depth of God’s promises - in dangerous, uncomfortable, unsafe situations.
Let’s read the story of Joshua 2.
1. Living the Promises:
I love what we see happening in this story. In the previous chapter, God has promised Joshua and the Israelites the land – He promised them victory “everywhere you set your foot.” (1:3). So now, in this next chapter, Joshua gets busy. He secretly sends a couple of people to spy out the land, and especially the city of Jericho. Let’s pause there for a second – my Bible doesn’t say anything about God telling Joshua to send in the spies. And if you remember back to Moses time, he sent in some spies and it all didn’t turn out to well. Didn’t God just promise to give Joshua the whole land? – then why the need to send in the spies? Does that display a lack of trust on Joshua’s part – a sort of taking-matters-into-his-own-hands kind of thing? Why didn’t he just trust God, rest on the promises, and march across the river and claim the land?