Living in the Palm of His Hand
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
How much do you trust God? Really? What if Jesus walked right up to you as you read this blog and asked you to give away all that you had, including your home. Would you do it? Would you trust that if He was asking you to do this that He has something better for you?
There is a story in the book of Matthew where a rich, young man approached Jesus about how he might attain to eternal life. Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew then wrote that when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving as he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 19:16-22)
Looking at this story, it is clear that this rich young man longed for a deeper relationship with God. It is clear by the fact that he not only approached Jesus to ask how to deepen that walk with Him, but had also been quite diligent to follow to the best of his ability most of the ten commandments. I believe that this young man wanted to be in right standing with God. (sound familiar? Is this not what we all long for?) However, the one thing that he lacked was removing the last idol from his life, wealth. Sadly, this is where the line was drawn for the young man as his trust in his wealth was obviously stronger and more important than his trust in God.
Again, does this sound familiar? Can you relate to this rich young man? Maybe it isn't a possession that God has asked us to let go of. Maybe it is an unhealthy friendship that God has asked you to step away from. Maybe it is a tv show that is feeding to an addiction in your life that He wants to set you free from? Maybe it is music that is leading down a path of anger and hostility towards God and others?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not upon your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge him, And he will direct your paths.” In the original text of this verse, the writer is expressing trust in the form of placing our complete weight upon Him, similar to when we lay on a bed and place our entire body upon it. Symbolically, this is an image of total surrender. Note that when we choose to posture ourselves in this position, it is physically impossible to lean upon anything else! In other words, there is no way that we can lean upon our own understanding (which often talks us out of trusting in Him) when we are in full surrender to God and trusting in Him! It is in this moment, that He is able to direct our steps and lead us into the abundant and fruitful life that He has promised us!
How do we reach this place of trust in Him? I believe it all begins with a deepening of our relationship with Him.
It is difficult to trust someone that you don’t know. I believe this is what separated the disciples from the rich young ruler. Up until that moment in time, the only thing the young man had done was follow a set of rules that he believed would lead him into a relationship with God. However, it is clear by his response to Jesus that he had likely not taken time to meditate on the word and understand the depth of meaning within the scriptures. The pharisees were also guilty of this as Jesus said to them in John 5:39-40 "you search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."
The disciples, on the other hand, had left everything behind (which is exactly what Jesus asked the rich young man) and had been spending the last few years with Jesus, listening to Him and learning from Him. As a result of their relationship with Him (and trust that resulted from it), their lives were also bearing much fruit and would continue to do so for the rest of their lives.
Psalm 1 says “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
We see in this scripture an incredible image of a tree planted by the water, yielding fruit and whose leaves never wither. Jeremiah 17:8 (above) expresses this same promise as a result of trusting in Him. John 15 also says that the only way to bear fruit, is by abiding in Him (ie.. and intimate relationship with Him). Church, I don’t believe there are any coincidences in the Bible. Spending time with Jesus and meditating on His word will always lead to a deepening of our trust in Him which results in a fruitful life where droughts and storms cannot shake us.
So in finishing this blog post, I want to leave you with this thought. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, the very first challenge satan brought to Him was not to turn rocks into loaves of bread, but rather, he challenged Jesus's relationship with the Father. "If you are the Son of God.." In both cases, the initial temptations of Jesus were challenges of His relationship and trust in the Father. If this was satan's initial attack on Jesus, it most certainly will be with us as well.
Thus, I leave you with these final questions to meditate on. What are you doing to deepen your relationship with Him? What steps are you taking to deepen your trust in His goodness, faithfulness, and love?
I believe that God has a greater calling for today's church than what we are seeing today. I also believe that for us to fulfill that calling, that we need to prioritize our relationship with Jesus and grow to trust Him more. Only when we fully trust Him, will we be able to let go of the things we are holding so dear to truly follow Him and bear much fruit.