The Interactive Nature of Trust (#474)
Trusting God is not, as some may assert, a blind leap into the darkness. Trust is the fruit of a growing interactive relationship with God where we come to know him and learn to follow the insights and impulses he breathes into our spirits as we learn to walk alongside him. He is joined by Kevin Tupper, long time friend and director of ChristianSimplicity.com, a website designed to stimulate conversations about God, money and trust. As Wayne and Kevin share about their own relationship with God, they talk about the Christian practices, what some call disciplines and the importance of seeing beyond the physical world and connecting with God and his unfolding glory. Learning trust is a process where failure and growth is to be expected as we learn the difference between our own presumption and God's will and purpose.
Kevin's website ChristianSimplicity.com: Conversations about God, Money, and Trust
Previous podcast with Kevin: Myths of Mammon
Previous podcast with Kevin: Passive Follower or Active Participant
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A very timely podcast Wayne.
I guess it depends on personality make up as well in how we respond to the concept of resting in God, allowing God to shape us, or work our behalf. We cannot be lazy, but in the world of performance orientation there seems to me to be a line between trying to do for God and make things happen, and moving into what God is already doing and resting in his bringing things about.
For the person like myself who continually manipulated and tried to make things happen in an effort to make sure I did not miss God, the sitting back was exactly what I needed to do in order to counter the tendency towards always doing. For the person who may tend to be float along aimlessly in life, some more direct effort may seem appropriate and common sense.
My personal approach has become one of doing what I know I need to do next. My next step. Today. I choose not to get overly concerned about what I should be doing tomorrow, next week or next month other than what I feel drawn in my heart to do. Between now and tomorrow, next week or next month there are so many of what I call “sharp left turns” that spending a lot of time of figuring out what I need to do seems wasteful. This does not mean I sit back and do nothing but it does mean that I can relax in God to bring those things to me that I need. I can be content knowing I am taken care of. I also am learning who I am and how I am created, that I am loved, and that I can operate out of that space with an increasing degree of confidence.
Some of this has come directly from life experiences where I have tried so hard to control things in life that when the horrors of life hit, you realize that you actually have little to no control. I find this sort of living – living by my daily bread – a far more relaxed and less stressed lifestyle.
Your post reminded me of something I just read from Jan Johnson. Does it fit?
Yes. That’s very nicely said.
Here is an excerpt from CS Lewis’s Screwtape letters that speaks to living in the present. This particular excerpt has really shaped my perspective and the place from which I live now.
EXCERPT FROM The Screwtape Letters , by C.S. Lewis.
(This Screwtape speaking to Wormwood – the Enemy is their name for God.)
The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity … in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. …
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human … to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. … nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future — haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth — ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.
This question of working vs. laziness brings up a lot of pain points for me. Especially when people have used the saying on me that “God can only guide a ship that’s moving”. I guess this goes hand in hand with all the performance stuff: when I feel ashamed for been lazy or not doing enough, I feel like I don’t have the right to say ‘no’ to anyone. I know that’s not what you were getting at in the podcast; especially talking in the light of living in the freedom God’s given us.
Something else I was thinking of from the podcast: Is our work more important than our hearts? Is God more interested in the work that we do for him, or is he more concerned in winning our hearts over to him? I just want to understand that God isn’t like the world. When I see attitudes of performance and shame that I have taken on board all my life, I just want to understand that God really is different from that, that He is ‘more’, transcendent from the priorities of the old creation.
With the question of work: Sometimes I have felt it when a person only wants to use me for the work that I could accomplish for them; more interested in it than who I am as a person. On the flip side of that, I think of people who care about me, who genuinely want to spend time with me: then whatever we do (whether it is work or whatever) is really just an excuse to share our lives with each other… even if the work that results turns out to be a lot.
I was thinking that a big part of trust for me with God or anyone else is just to know that they genuinely care for me, and not just using me to accomplish another goal.
Andrew, thanks for sharing. I know I have been finding freedom from my relating to many people based on how I would benefit from associating/relating to them. (consciously or sub-consciously). It is similar to the many mutually beneficial relationships that masquerade as love (inside and outside the organized church).
As relates to being in motion, or doing, I think it is obvious that avoidance of work that scores points with God or others is not redemptive or edifying. However I think being in motion (inside the freedom of actual relationship with God, inside of knowing him) can be helpful. Waiting for something/someone to come to us as we maintain a stationary posture may leave one alone in an existence that is vacuous (if not downright painful because we are stuck with our ego, hurts and self obsessing). This may look like anger, despair or even depression.
The kind of motion that could prove effective could be things like exploring nature (seeing God there), putting oneself in positions for relationship with others in natural settings, involving oneself in hobbies and other interests (and others with similar interests…..) My point is not to create/provide/identify a comprehensive list, but rather to point to natural (God created order) activity that allows for a dynamic of being guided/steered.
Fear of failure, discomfort with the unknown/non-controllable may cause apprehension, but remembering who we trust can mitigate these obstructions.
Doing nothing is kinda like death (and I’m not talking about just taking time to be still).
Lastly, there may be nothing worse that discovering someone had an agenda which involved using us as they tried to disguise it as concern, interest or even love. I think the organized church and other “ministries” would be surprised to find out how often their actions are smelled out to be agenda laden. People just tune them out when this is perceived, It is sad to see when the targets become people so wounded that they respond out of desperation and just get further hurt in the long run. Also, naive and simple minded folks are preyed upon. I’m not singling out the organized church as much of society does this through marketing mechanisms and the such, it just that presumably those that expose themselves to ministries are ostensibly search for, and open to, God.
Hi Tom, thanks for the reply. I get what you mean about that stationary posture you described, not a very nice place to be for an extended period of time. However, something that I learnt when I was ‘stagnating’ (for lack of a better word) was the difference between external pressure to change, and making my own decisions — still learning that 🙂
I guess if you discounted all the noise of those distorted relationships you and I described; when I was living in ways outside of how I was made to be, then the sense of something ‘not right’ surfaced over time. You know, like seeing that the false joys don’t satisfy anymore, and you get searching for something more.
This week, somebody told me this: “When the pain in a person’s life becomes greater than their fear of change, they change.” In some ways, maybe God was seeding, growing and shifting things in my heart (not just talking about pain) which over time overcame some of that fear of change … and eventually I was able to make choices that I thought weren’t open to me before.
Love this statement (and all of the comments above)! “Trusting God is not, as some may assert, a blind leap into the darkness. Trust is the fruit of a growing interactive relationship with God where we come to know him and learn to follow the insights and impulses he breathes into our spirits as we learn to walk alongside him” The more I realize this, the more excited yet peaceful I get! That can been an oxymoron for me at times. I can get excited and not be peaceful (off to works I go). Wayne, you have nailed this for me.
Also the stuff you share about marriage is so amazingly real. It was such a treat to have 2 copies of Finding Church. My husband had his own and I mine. Both copies are heavily underlined and often our many conversations would be about what we underlined in each chapter and involved some pretty great dialogue.
Wow Andrew you you remind me of myself! … For most of my life I have been what my wife would call a workaholic… I always Just thought I had great work ethics or at least that was what I tried telling myself… What bothered me is I still felt lazy no matter how many hours I put in! when I was setting still I would feel an unrest in me that would not allow me to fully rest and enjoy my family or friends If I was not working phisicly I could satisfy it by reading my bible or doing something religious. I finally invited God into this space and began asking Him To free me from this drive. For most of my life I saw it as the one good thing I had … Even Godly at times…that has been about a year and a half ago and The journey Has been interesting! One thing He did in untwisting This area was take me back to when I started working…. And for me That was maybe 6- 7 years old . I had the fear That I was Lazy which was used to get me to work! So I worked hard to prove that fear wrong! I Had never faced that fear to even find out if I was lazy …. I just woke up every day and unknowingly went about my day with this drive to disprove this fear! Knowing that I am loved and excepted even if I am Lazy has Opened a way to explore this fear in a way I never saw possible before!!! One day Pondering this I had a thought That has stuck with me !!! “What if we were only created to serve the object of our affection “? If this is true it would explain why serving out of obligation quickly becomes so distasteful! I am relearning to work at 35 and My father is teaching me , some days I am Lazy! But as He draws me into His delighted affection you would be surprised at what everyday task Becomes something we do together and dare I say enjoy … The object of His affection becomes the object of our affection at times and Work becomes play and great fun! In this place The fear of being lazy is no longer needed and fall by the way along with The drive That has been Haunting my life! I like to think every day I live free of that drive is one day closer to it’s ultimate demise! The weird thing is being drawn Into rather than Driven I find myself accomplishimg way more even naturally!!! Thanks for sharing Andrew! Love your Journey!
Hey Harvey, thanks for the encouragement. This does sound very familiar. Sometimes I think I have two settings, one where I am really inactive, and another where I’m extremely active but it feels like I’m burning the wrong fuel. I just finished this weekend absolutely exhausted … Brought me back to the question: does God actually want this? The answer seems to be ‘no’.
I so know what you mean. Imagine the whole church doing that?
I remember my former church taking on a huge task as an outreach opportunity. I questioned the scope and size of it and by then had already learned to be careful in what I took on limiting myself (but still feeling that I was not doing enough – got over that pretty quick). In the end a few people got saved, but the burnout was unbelievable and the fruit of that burnout caused people to yell at one another, disrupt marriages and family lives, and cause general havoc in the rest of the ministries that were suddenly drained. I wondered if the very thing that was hoped to bring eternal rewards, so to speak, actually ended up causing people to sin.
If I find myself seeking to “please God” in doing big things for him and the result is that I end up barking at my wife and my children, and losing patience with people around me, then I would have to seriously question the validity of what I was involved in.
Has God called us to burn out for Him? Does he want us involved in things that will cause us to burn out, making us vulnerable and out of control, hurting those around us and opening ourselves to unhealthy coping mechanisms and greater sin?
I have done it all. And in the end I would call it all wood, hay and stubble…
John, is there anything you can look back at and say it was gold, silver, or costly stones? If so, how would you describe the difference?
That is a fair question. I think you are asking if there can still be found some redeeming qualities or experiences in the experience? Correct me if I am wrong.
I wonder if I am too jaded at the moment to really be able to answer that at the moment.
Of course, not everything would be negative. And I suppose learning to work together and overcoming difficulty and resolving conflict are all good things.
I think that perhaps my own experiences in watching my life disintegrate into burnout, addiction and tremendous pain and suicidal thinking, and with little to no place to turn in the church for help – only their demand for my services and talent – has left me somewhat jaded.
All I was doing in church was feeding a self-destructive tendency. I did not have boundaries, but neither was the church caring enough to help me with my boundaries. The machine just takes. And the machine has its programs, and it has its grand schemes yet cares little for the toll it takes on people. Like I said, jaded. I eventually was directed to an outside source for help, and all my experiences of care came from outside of my local church.
Perhaps pain was inevitable because I was doing it from a wrong place of trying to attain value. Perhaps if things were different, I would have received more life from it. I did do things I enjoyed and had some fulfillment, but the funny thing is I have no desire to do any of it anymore. Its like it was a formal religious life that holds no fond memories. It actually makes me shake remembering it.
I am trying to navigate my emotional and mental health in light of Christian service, and I find it increasingly difficult to accept an unhealthy lifestyle of overextending all in the name of doing the work of God. I deliberately steer people away from it.
Perhaps the gold, silver and costly stones are the lessons I have learned through the fire as the wood hay and stubble got burned up. God brought me to the end of myself through all of it and I am sure there are still few more step, but there is mercy and tremendous beauty in all of that for which I am thankful.
I don’t think I answered your question, but it made me think… 🙂
Sorry. I’m not being very clear. Let me ask it differently. Forget church and all things related to religious life or service for a moment I’m not talking about that at all. Look at your everyday life – family, work, neighborly interactions. Do you have any experiences in normal life where you can look back and say God was there (whether you realized it at the time or not?)
I guess the conversation for me was more looking back at what I have come out of and an observation of where I used to be. My journey over the last 15 years has been one of increasing joy and freedom.
My life used to revolve around church. You say normal everyday life, but my normal everyday life and all relationships other than immediate family and career was fully wrapped up in church activities. I now have no church activities or programs involvement and have time and energy for relationships with believers and unbelievers, and to pursue freely what I sense in my heart to do. It is not perfect, I have finally come to what I would now deem as “normal” (whatever that really means). Let’s say it is far more at rest. And my wife is a lot happier with a less stressed husband.
Do I find God in my walk? All the time. But I now have time to see Him around me and time to converse with Him. I am far more awake to His presence.
Still thinking about the sentence;“Trusting God is not, as some may assert, a blind leap into the darkness.” We often hear the expression ‘blind faith’ and think it is a phrase that can be misused in some circles. I know that the bible says we walk by faith and not by sight, but what is meant by sight? Surely God has provided a lot to see like the creation (Romans 1:20), the word, Jesus Christ in the flesh, the out-workings of holy spirit within and that he is eager (James 1:5) to give us wisdom.
“Blind faith can be used to manipulate in a negative sense to get people to commit to a way of thinking. That’s a leap into darkness.
I am thankful for this conversation as i have not yet been able to express these things with others, but as you talk in honesty and realness its like i have the conversation except it was with God.
I have 2 awesome brothers!! Wayne and Kevin.
I just now listened to this podcast (3/8/15). In all that, I heard a 3 word phase that has opened a door in my heart to accepting God’s love for me, “God’s Love Child”.
You see, neither of my parents wanted me. I won’t go into all the circumstantial detail as to how I arrived at this belief about myself. I am 60 years old and have felt and believed this for more years than I could articulate. But, God knew me before I was conceived and He used two people who only wanted sex inside the legitimacy of marriage and they got me and my brothers as by products of that want.
Even though my parents didn’t want me, God did. Therefore, I am “God’s Love Child”. In this world and inside our western cultural religious belief systems the phrase “love child” carries a connotation of illegitimacy and shame. I don’t feel that shame anymore and because of His adoption I’m good with my beginnings now. Why? Because God is God and I’m not His first “Love Child”.
Today, in a strange back door kind of way, this phrase has brought peace, comfort, and rest to my old broken heart.
Thanks Wayne and Kevin ! I’ll bet you didn’t expect a response like this from your conversation about “The Interactive Nature of Trust”. It makes sense to me now. I left organized church 15 years ago because of the manipulative abuse and my growing lack of trust in “God Systems” and because of the pain – God Himself. I’ve been baptised 3 times in my years trying to shake the confusion, guilt, and shame. Lot’s of water under His bridge for me!
Just came across this podcast and am intrigued. As an adult adoptee, I have struggled with trusting God. Thank you for this ministry.