Yesterday’s message …
- Began a four week exploration of only two bible verses: Proverbs 3:5-6 — two verses we are implanting in the minds of the people of the church with key ring holders.
- Hinged on a demonstration involving a 6’3″ 290 lb Olympic High School football player — who had run a fumble back for a touchdown on Friday night!;
- Let people know that “trust” is not something that you conjure up in the midst of a crisis but is instead a commitment to living life God’s way and in so doing prevent crises before they arise;
- Led to this bottom line: His revelation > your intuition.
A couple of phrases and sayings, if I may. You’ve probably heard someone say them in the last month; more likely heard them come out of your own mouth in the last week. Ready?
Trust your gut.
Follow you heart.
Believe in yourself.
What these all are, in the final analysis, are encouragements to lean on your own intuition. That inner sense that tells you who is calling you as soon as you hear the phone ring and before you check caller ID; that awareness you have to stay away from the potato salad that’s been sitting out in sun at a summer picnic; the inward answered prayer that almost magically opens up a good parking spot on Black Friday at the mall. Your intuition is really a personal kind of knowledge allowing you to make decisions based ultimately on trusting your gut and following your heart. They often call it “a woman’s intuition” but c’mon: guys can have it, too.
In fact, one guy who had it was Obi Wan Kenobi: CLIP Star Wars. Hear that? Instincts. Feelings. Yep. Or NOT a long time ago and NOT in a galaxy far, far away, there was Sully. His gut, his intuition told him almost without thinking about it, “I got to land this plane on the Hudson River!” And thank God he did. Praise God for that particular moment of intuition.
But you know this, too, don’t you? For every Obi Wan, for every Sully, there are probably ten occasions when your gut told you wrong, when your heart led you astray, when your inner voice just should have shut up. That guy who you met and you heard LOVE and he’s the same one who left you feeling used up and kicked aside. That candidate who you were SURE was gonna make your life better and now he’s in office and you’re still the same. The church that you just KNEW God was telling you to change to and yet it proved as inept as the two previous ones. That investment that your voice whispered DO IT DO IT DO IT! … and it’s now DONE it to the point that your net worth is about half of what it was. Even the most intuitive among you have learned that when intuition meets long term planning chaos is likely the result.
Which brings us to the biblical couplet that is going to be the foundation of The Trust Factor. It’s Proverbs 3:5-6, and these are the first verses of Scripture that I ever memorized, recommended to me by my older sister when I was a brand new, 17 year old Xn. And these words are so valuable, so enduring, so helpful even if SOMETIMES misappropriated that we are going to read them out loud and together:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your paths straight.
Oh my goodness. So much there.
And here’s the thing. We hear “trust” and our mind immediately goes to crisis mode: Your jet engine just got hit by a flock of seagulls; TRUST. Your child is in the hospital: TRUST. You spouse has gone missing: TRUST. Your job has given you the pink slip: TRUST. You have a big tennis match with a college scholarship riding on the outcome: TRUST. You’re about to take the SAT … for the fourth time: TRUST. There’s a national crisis that could result in an international war: TRUST. And all that trusting God in the middle of all those crises is well, fine, and good … it’s just not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is talking about. At all.
Instead of trusting being something in the moment, to get out of a crisis, it is instead a decision made in the quiet, in advance, generating the kind of momentum that keeps you out of the crisis to begin with. We think trust GETS us out of problems; Proverbs 3:5-6 instead envisions it as something that KEEPS us out of them in the first place! Because look look look and where the trusted is centered: Trust … IN THE LORD. With what? All your heart. You don’t trust your heart. You trust God WITH your heart! Hear the difference? You know why it matters. Your heart is a liar. It is self-centered and deceptive. It takes you down the path of self-destruction all the while convincing you that you’re on the journey to self-fulfillment.
But trust in the Lord. And where do we get an understanding of this object of trust? Do we figure him out? Dream him up? Figure that he is the voice in our ear? No, no, no. The only way we know him is through what he has revealed. He unveils himself. He displays himself. In Scripture. Through the saints, through the OT heroes, through the Scripture, and ultimately through Jesus himself. That’s the object of our trust; not our gut, not our heart, not the voice within. The God beyond who dares to reveal himself to people who, frankly, aren’t always that interested in the revelation. Yet recognizing that makes all the difference; it puts our moments and our intuition and our momentum in an entirely different light. Because here it is, here’s the trust factor & it’s the best kind because it doesn’t GET you out of problems it KEEPS you out of them. Ready? His revelation > your intuition. That’s it. That’s all. His revelation is greater than your intuition. If there’s a conflict between what you THINK and what he SAYS, he wins. If your feelings contradict his commandments, follow the command not your heart! His revelation > your intuition.
Here’s what I mean. Who’d like a demonstration? Because the idea of “lean on” (or “lean not on”) conveys the idea of putting your weight on. Something that can bear your weight. So here we go with our volunteer Tayvean Ford … standing on a painter’s stick. See! That’s what happens when you trust your intuition. When you think you know what’s best. It collapses. Your self-fulfillment turns into self-destruction.
Now this: Tayvean now stands on firm 2 x 4, sold and it holds him up. That’s it. See? You trust YOU – your intuition, what everyone knows is right, what the world says makes sense – and get ready for the collapse. Your trust the God who reveals himself and no matter how counter-intuitive or even absurd his words and his commands seem, there’s the stability. That’s it. His revelation > your intuition.
So lean not on your own understanding. It collapses. Why? Your understanding misunderstands! You misunderstand how life really works. Your mind and your intuition have been polluted by sin – to the point your shocked I just said that which merely proves my point! – and you misunderstand life. It’s like when you go shopping when you’re hungry – and then you can’t figure out why you came home with ten boxes of Ding Dongs and 12 cartons of Chunky Monkey. You take that same clueless approach with all of life until you realize His revelation > your intuition.
Because, again: what I am talking about its not a frantic moment where all of a sudden you trust God to get you out of something that you got into. I am instead talking about a decision made in the calm that creates the kind of momentum that keeps you out of the mess to begin with. I’m thinking of that young couple, newly married, nervous as cats, no money to speak of, who make the decision from the first days of marriage: we’re tithing. 10% of very little is still something. Now: NO ONE would ever intuit that. No one’s heart would ever lead them naturally to give away 10% of hard earned money for years and years. And with that young couple, when family members heard of the absurdity of the tithing plan, they said, “You can’t do that! You’ll never know when you’re gonna need the money!”
Which is wrong on so many levels: first it’s not the couple’s money. It’s God’s. Second, because they’ve given it, they’ve never needed it. And that same couple continued to tithe and beyond through grad school, child rearing, and layoffs and never missed what was never theirs. I know it’s true because it’s us. We didn’t trust God in the financial crisis; we trusted him during the calm with the irrational, counter-intuitive tithing plan that prevented the crisis from erupting in the first place. Why? It’s part of the biblical revelation! My intuition says KEEP IT ALL! His revelation says GIVE TO MY WORKS FIRST. In that case, he won. His revelation > your intuition.
And so it includes money but it’s so much more. It’s the couple who comes to me for pre-marital counseling. They were blending a family and had lived life and yet announced without me asking: we’re waiting til marriage for sex. And I was like but what about conventional wisdom that says you got have a trial run? Nope! The revelation says keep the marriage bed pure. REFRAIN. Or in church growth circles that have what is called the Homogenuous Unit Principle, which essentially said in the 90s, grow your church along single race lines. Conventional wisdom. The revelation says Rev 7:9:
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Or even something odd like praying in tongues. Intuition says that’s looney, that cultish. The revelation says I Cor 14:39
39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
Or healing? Medical, scientific ONLY. Tell that to my shoulder His revelation > your intuition.
I kinda love how AW Tozer says it:
A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one he has never seen, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and is happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge.
Yes! Sometimes you’ve got to do in order to know. You follow the instructions, the commands, the teachings without complete clarity and along the way you discover: “Oh, I get it! That’s why he says to live this way!” It’s the pattern of the entire Bible! Abraham: Go. Leave your family, your property, your business, your 401K, and go to a land you don’t know. Lord, can I have the agenda for the trip? No, just go. Along the way you’ll understand. And so he did. Moses, take your people and get out of slavery on the other side of the Red Sea. Do what I say and leave now. And Moses answers, what’s the plan? what shall I tell them? Tell them my name and who I am and that’s enough. Along the way, you’ll understand.
And Jesus to Peter, the fisherman son of a fisherman. Peter, come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men. Peter: who’s keeping the books? (Judas!) Who’s your right hand man? What’s the plan? When are you coming back? Jesus answers: Not for you to know the times and seasons, Peter, just come with me and you’ll discover along the way. People: they all followed first and comprehended second! As if it is, “Oh, once I did this, I got that!” And it hasn’t stopped being true!
The question is – and you can write this down – Do you trust God enough to wait until later to find out why obedience was a good idea? Do you? That’s why this message is so on my heart for every young adult single and young adult couple. You have an unparalleled opportunity to decide now, in the relative calm of life, to trust the God of Revelation with tomorrow. I don’t understand completely but I trust and obey anyway. You’ll see the wisdom, I promise.