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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: Hebrews 11

Do I trust God?

Ben Goshow

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus argues that we can trust one of two things: God or money. "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one or love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money," (6:24). I've written two essays recently, where I readily admit my inability to name the degree to which I trust money as a source of security and happiness. By God's grace, we are amply supplied and have been for the bulk of our growing up and marriage. So it has not yet been my opportunity to learn, with Paul, the true secret of contentment. This apprenticeship would demand scarcity and lack.

But similarly, it may well be that our trust in God can only be measured when we go without - when prayers find no visible answer, when God seems distant, when everyday faith feels more like best guess than real certainty. We learn to trust God when the circumstances provide no real evidence of his trustworthiness. Like the saints in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we know we've got the goods (that is, of faith and substantive trust) when we go without - and yet remain confident in God. "They did not receive what was promised," the writer of Hebrews concludes, describing how their faith was, in many cases, an act of anticipation.

So do I trust God? The most valid measure may be when God delays and the immediacy of my needs are not met immediately, when I pray and continue praying without visible and miraculous intervention from the heavens.

Do I trust God when I want and am obliged to wait?

Here are some qualities that I think are true of trust:

Peace. The confident reassurance that God is in control.

Joy. The ready delight to see God’s plan unfold.

Patience. The ability to wait on God.

Surrender. The willingness to lay down demands.

Love. The affection that grows in the anticipation of God’s provision and protection.

Obedience. The commitment to do what God asks—even when it doesn’t make sense.

Confidence. The abiding sense that God’s plans are good and wise.

Boldness. The lion-hearted faith that risks.

May we each learn this trust and with Paul, confidently affirm:

"And my God will supply every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus," Philippians 4:19

Faith: If this is the only thing we give our kids

jenmichel@me.com

Inevitably, whenever we return from a trip to Chicago, we pick up the question that’s already been worn threadbare. What are we doing next? We moved to Toronto almost two years ago on what was understood to be a short-term work visa. And though we like it here - and might even wish to stay, that’s a decision that is simply not up to us. To stay permanently, one of us, of course, will need a job. And even if we had work, we’d still have to figure out where, in this expensive city, to live. I won’t deny that I’d rather resolve all the mysteries ahead of us. I definitely crave a clearer picture of what our future looks like. Some days, I have to admit that I want less faith and more sight.

I don’t find it easy to live with these hanging threads of perplexity.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things about living in this kind of impermanence – never able to answer if we’re staying or for how long – is that we have five children whose lives trail in the wake of all our decisions. Both Ryan and I feel the heavy weight of this responsibility.

I moved often as a child. Every three years, we drove somewhere new and called it home. And it was never easy. I remember the terrifying experience it was to walk in to school as the new girl, wondering if I’d find someone to sit next to at lunch.

Whenever I didn’t, I buried my head in a good book.

I’m sure much good was learned in my packed up childhood. I learned to make friends quickly. I learned to overcome fear. I learned that anonymity and aloneness weren’t as bad as you think. (And I read a lot of great books. . .)

But in truth, that’s not the life I want for my kids. Am I not revisiting my old ancestral curse of transience on them? What harm will be done to our children in whose future are sure to be some lonely school lunches? Wouldn’t they be better off with the stability of some permanence in their lives?

This is not how the American dream is scripted. Parents aren’t supposed to move when middle and high school loom, not when exclusion and loneliness are hunting for company.

Parents are supposed to stay.

And staying is safe.

These are my parental misgivings about how we’re betraying the common sense wisdom of raising kids.

Or, have we?

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had my nose in the final chapters of Hebrews.

By faith, Abel. . .

By faith, Noah. . .

By faith, Abraham. . .

By faith, Sarah. . .

It seems the only decisions that matter are the faith decisions. The only decisions that please God are the ones inspired by faith.

And faith involves mystery and provokes perplexity. Faith is future-oriented: it wills itself forward through the unknown toward certainties that lay ahead. If we demand answers and guarantees, we can only have them at the exclusion of faith.

Faith is hard, but faith is for our good.

Maybe the best thing any of us gives our kids is this journey of faith. Maybe permanence and belonging, though I would wish them for our family, stay out of reach because we were never meant to find these in a geographical place.

Home isn’t a zip code: home is God’s eternal city.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

We can’t give our children solid answers as to where they’ll be in one year or two. We can’t promise that there isn’t loneliness in their future. And this may not be the safest and most predictable life we could have given them - but then again, how safe is God?

In the journey of faith, with its questions and complexities, we teach our kids to trust and pray, to listen and wait, to move only on the divine go.

And I think they’re soon to learn a truth, which I’m daily forced to reabsorb:

Wherever He leads is good.