I’m terrible at trusting God

Photo by  Milada Vigerova

The other day, the Holy Spirit gave me an illustration that described how I so often respond to him. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t too flattering.

I’ll get back to that in a second. First, let me say that there is a huge difference between following God’s will by yourself and choosing to rely on him every step of the way.

I believe that many of my past decisions, such as pursuing a journalism diploma, going to Bible school and taking this year off to dream with Jesus, have all come from God’s guidance.

Of course, I’ve frequently had the wrong motives and made a lot of mistakes along the way. But overall, these steps were good things, and God has blessed me through them.

However, with each step, my process looked a little bit like “Jesus, can you help me with– never mind, I got this.”

And that’s why the illustration God gave me is so sadly accurate. He showed me standing at the edge of a cliff, with a giant trampoline at its foot. When he asks me to jump, I often do so. But not before I’ve made sure there’s a safety net at the bottom, “in case” he doesn’t pull through.

The thing is, when I pull out the trampoline, God usually lets me land on it. He lets my Plan B kick in, because I couldn’t trust him with Plan A.

And it often turns out okay. Plan B works. The trampoline cushions the fall, and I continue on—no closer to trusting in God’s power.

And yet, the few times I’ve mustered up the courage to follow God without a backup plan, he cares for me and exceeds my every expectation. A life lived in faith is so much better than a life lived relying on my own feeble abilities.

But why is it so hard?

Why do I suck at trusting God? I don’t pray bold prayers because I’m afraid of being disappointed; I don’t risk in my faith in case it doesn’t pan out and I end up looking stupid. As a result, my capacity to serve is limited.

What’s worse, I don’t always give God the credit for the ways he has moved in my life, for fear of sounding weird. It's way easier to talk about following religious traditions than it is to acknowledge that I legitimately believe there is a real God who created us.

People might think I'm crazy if I admit to believing in the supernatural.

But like, I do, don't I?

If I really believe in God, then shouldn’t I be willing to risk looking like a fool for him? Shouldn’t I be able to ask for big things and trust him to provide for my needs, without making sure my alternative plan is in place?

And if I don’t, what does that say about my faith? It says I don’t believe in a God who’s big enough to help me, or good enough to offer something better when what happens isn’t what I wanted.

That fear comes down to not really thinking that God is who he says he is. It comes down to being afraid that he will let me down.

But the thing God keeps patiently reminding me of is that my faith can only grow by actually risking—actually choosing to trust. I need to take the jump without the trampoline.

Even as I write this, I’m realizing that I’ve spent a lot of time praying for greater trust and greater faith. But the thing is, trusting doesn’t necessarily mean being fearless. If you knew exactly how everything would play out, there wouldn’t be nearly as much trust involved.

So maybe the starting point to getting better at trusting God is simply making a choice.

Maybe it’s choosing to take that first small step from a place of great doubt and fear, without anything else to break my fall. It may not feel like trust because I’m still afraid God won’t pull through, but the action itself is faith.

And each time God comes through, that builds confidence for the next time.

Just think about how powerful that is. When we act like God really is real and actually trust him, it increases our faith. We can share stories of the work he’s done in our lives, and that is an immensely powerful testimony to those looking on.

God is tangible and real and worth getting excited about. But we often don’t get to see that until we really let go of control and let him guide and orchestrate our lives.

And like I just said, we don’t have to be good at it in order to begin.

So, here’s to making feeble, doubting choices of trust—however small they may be. Gradually, it’ll get easier. I hope that one day, we’ll each be able to cast aside our safety nets and jump boldly, and in faith.