“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Over the past several weeks we’ve been going through a series called “FIRST: Putting God first in your living and giving.” Many of you have followed along in this series in small group studies; others have heard or read each week’s messages on the topic. As I have worked on each message, I have been inspired by the many things God has put in my way to help me understand him better. One day last week my daily devotion included the Scripture passage quoted above and these words: “Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through this day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: those ‘sister sins’ that so easily entangle you.” If we are truly going to put God first in every aspect of our lives, we must be willing to trust God. In a way, this sounds so simple; trusting the God who created us and everything else – well, of course I trust God! On the other hand, do our thoughts about trust really translate into our daily behavior? Do we really act like we trust God for everything? I’m not so sure the answer is “yes”.
Trusting God is a choice that we must make thousands of times a day. My devotion suggests: “The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes.” It’s kind of like acquiring any skill…the more you practice, the better you get. The better you get, the more confident you feel and the more you trust your ability to accomplish the task. In order to learn to trust God in all things, we must practice trusting God. That means setting our focus on God all the time, in everything we do and every time we need to make a choice about anything. We need to practice being aware of what God might choose instead of what we want to choose. Once we trust that God is guiding our decisions, we can be thankful for the outcomes of those decisions. As Paul wrote: “Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining.”
You may wonder how this applies to daily life. Here’s just one example: When it’s time for you to choose what you are going to eat for lunch, you have several options. God probably would prefer that you choose something healthy to eat for lunch; you might prefer a cheeseburger and fries with a Coke, followed by a cherry turnover. How would trusting God affect this decision? It may sound a little silly, but that is what trusting God with all aspects of our life really looks like. God is involved with all our life and has an interest in every part of it. What you eat, where you go for entertainment, how you react to other people, and how you spend your money are just a few things that represent where we need to focus on God in order to trust God and be thankful for the outcomes.
Some people will read this and think that it is restrictive and gives us no room for free will. Living this way makes us slaves to rules of the church. This sounds like we are just robots for God. I disagree. I believe that living this way gives us great freedom. Freedom from the burdens of worrying about whether or not we are making the right decisions. Freedom from the stress of living with the results of our bad choices. Freedom to be the person that God intends us to be. It just seems so much easier to choose freedom and allow God to be in charge of everything.
Does this also mean that life will be a bowl of cherries, that we’ll never make a mistake, and we will never again suffer? Absolutely not! We are human beings and our best efforts will often fall short. What this means is that we will be much better off than we are now because we will pay attention to God more often than we do now. We will still choose the burger and fries more often than we should. However: “The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes.” The more we trust God, the more thankful we become and the more we have to be thankful for.
Trust and be thankful every day,