For a moment I want you to imagine this scenario with me. You are enjoying a wonderful day out on a dam or lake with some of your friends. The sun is shining down on you, the cool breeze lightly blows past you and the gentle rock of the small boat puts you into a state of rest. As you take in the beauty of your surrounds you think to yourself that you are safe and content. Suddenly, the wind starts howling, the waves grow larger, the rain pelts your face, and you find yourself in the middle of a raging storm. As the boat quickly starts to fill with water you are nearly knocked off your feet by the howling wind and you realize that you have no way of making it back to shore safely. It is then that you see the figure of a man walking towards you; yes, walking towards you ON THE WATER! And just when you thought that things couldn’t get crazier, the figure calls out to you and asks you to walk towards them
Now this scenario that I have just described is well known to many Christians. It is the story of Jesus who encouraged one of his disciples, Peter, to take a step out of the boat and into the storm which can be found in Matthew 14: 22 - 33. I find that too often we read over this story as if it is just…a story. But this a true story with real people and real emotions. And I am sure that many who imagined this scenario felt the same emotions of fear, shock and maybe even anger that the disciples felt at that time.
But how does this story, that happened over 2,000 years ago affect us?
Well, many of us have found ourselves in this same situation. Many of us have felt the fear of the storm surrounding us, many of us have felt the shock and anger of having our peace stripped away from us and many of us have faced the same question; do I step out of this boat and trust Jesus? We have been told so many times to trust in the Lord but that is easier said than done which is why we are going to look at 5 different ways to actively trust God daily.
1. Mediate daily on His word
As Christians we believe that the Bible is God-inspired and God-breathed. So why don’t we take time to read His Word? Why don’t we actively participate in studying and understanding His Word? It is only in reading the scriptures that we read of His love and we find the passages which encourage us to trust in Him.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”
Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture”
Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
These are just a few verses of thousands which describe and encourage us to trust God. If we meditate on these scriptures daily, they become an important part of our lives. And once we allow these scriptures to sink into our hearts it becomes a little bit easier to trust the Lord.
2. Spent Time with God
As much as it is important for us to study His Word, we should not neglect the importance of prayer and spending time in God’s presence. Maybe the reason that Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the water is because he recognized Jesus. He recognized his friend and teacher; he recognized the voice that he trusted.
1 Chronicles 16:11 “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always”.
God created us to have relationship with Him and our relationship with him takes strain when we don’t take the time to be with Him. It is like any other relationship in our lives, be that with friends, families or spouses, relationships need time. The more time you spend with someone, the more you find that, depending on their actions, it is easier to trust that person. That same thing happens when we spend time with God. Once we recognize His voice in the storm, it becomes a lot easier to trust Him.
3. Be Vulnerable with God
We know that God forgives. We know that God understands our suffering. We know that God loves us unconditionally. So why can’t we trust Him with our deepest hurts and fears? Because it is easier to hide all of that than to be vulnerable; being vulnerable oftentimes is painful, messy and difficult. But this is an important way of trusting God especially because we know who He is. Next time you spend time with God in prayer, I encourage you to show your vulnerabilities. Tell God of your fears and worries and see how He works in your life.
4. Let go!
So, once you’ve shown your vulnerabilities don’t hold onto them. Let. Them. Go! God knows that it is difficult to let go and that is why there is so much scripture about letting go of your fears.
Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust. I will not be afraid. What can man do to you?”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”
To trust God, you need to hand over everything that is worrying you. This can be done different ways and each person is different, but I find that I like to write out God’s ‘promises’ on little cards. I keep these with me and whenever I feel that I can’t let go or I can’t trust God, I take these cards out and read over His Word. I remind myself of the promises that God has made.
5. Praise God, even in the bad times
Now this is a difficult one. It is so easy to praise and trust God when things are going well in our lives, but as soon as tough times hit, we turn from Him and blame Him for all our worries. We choose to stay in the boat rather than stepping out to be with Jesus on the water.
Psalm 69:30-32 “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horn and hooves. The poor will see and be glad – you who seek God, may your hearts live!”
God wants our praises, and He seeks us out when we worship Him. Sometimes those praises are easy and other times it may feel like a sacrifice. But it is in our worship to Him that we find it becomes easier to trust Him.
What I have written today is not the ultimate recipe to learn how to trust God. This is not a ‘quick fix’ to solve what is a difficult challenge that most Christians face. Trusting God takes time, and it isn’t always easy, but once you let go and let God, you will find yourself stepping out of that storm and into the arms of Jesus which is safer and better than staying on the boat.
So, I leave you with this question; do you choose the boat of Jesus?