“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I have observed over the years that folks who come for ministry (or sit in a church on Sunday mornings) fall into one of three categories.
There are those who are Teetering. For these the spiritual journey is a roller coaster. When life is going good, when the sermon is inspiring, when the praise music is just right – they are all about Jesus. “God is good all the time and all the time God is good,” they loudly chant. However, if life is challenging (finances, marriage, job) or distracting (kid’s sports, local attractions with friends) and the sermon was convicting and the praise music was too loud, too slow, too fast – then they lose confidence in the Lord and probably will not make it to church next Sunday if they are the least bit tired or it looks like a nice day to go to the beach.
Then there are those who are Trying. For these the spiritual journey is an arduous, uphill path. They “believe IN Jesus” and what He did for them on the cross and are indeed born-again, baptized believers. However, the journey to the end of life on earth is one of working in their own strength and abilities to please God. This will include, at times, the need to pretend that “God is good all the time and all the time God is good” because they don’t want God to get a bad name just on account of them. This is a compliant group, meaning they do the things God asks of them – but with an attitude. “Ok, Ok, I’ll do it. But it won’t be pretty.”
Finally, there are those who are Trusting. These folks acknowledge they really do not understand the spiritual journey all the time but are fully convinced (and willing to admit) that they cannot do it on their own. The need to entrust themselves to Another, which the Bible calls humility, is critical to their journey. They not only believe in Jesus, they actually “believe Jesus”, especially when He says things like they are loved, He is pleased with them, He has made them righteous, they are not alone. These folks are obedient. They might do all the things the Trying person does but their attitude is, “I’ll do it because I trust You and believe it is for my best.”
So what might each of these categories look like when they come for ministry? Well, let’s suppose a married couple is really struggling and are considering divorce. The husband comes for ministry and I share an appropriate selection of Bible verses – things like: be kind and compassionate to one another; forgive each other; and because it is the man, husbands love your wives.
- The Teetering man listens intently, thanks me for the help and promptly divorces his wife – that Bible stuff was way too hard.
- The Trying man comes under conviction and now knows what he must do to please God. So to make God happy and be a “good Christian”, he goes home to “love” his wife. He really doesn’t want to but what choice does he have. I can almost hear him: “I love you, Sally, ‘cause God says I have to.” The marriage may survive or not.
- The Trusting man believes Jesus and the words He gave to those who wrote the New Testament. The man may not want to love his wife all the time and definitely is not sure how to love his wife, but chooses to believe he “can do all things through Christ who gives him strength” if he will just stay available to Jesus. His journey will be mostly about him and Jesus but it will sure show at home. Divorce will probably never be a word in his vocabulary.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” It really will make a difference — not just in marriage, but in all of life.