I’ve been wrestling during the last week. A couple of situations have been on my mind that call for seemingly contradictory responses: guarding and trusting…
* I’ve probably mentioned before that I am working on a book. I believe God has asked me to share my story with others in the hopes that they can learn about God’s designs and intentions in their own lives. As the book gets nearer the point where I am sharing it with people beyond the very safe group that have seen it so far, it gets easier to fear what response it will bring. Within the last few weeks, I have shared it with a couple of people a bit further outside my comfort zone, and even with just those couple of people, the feelings of vulnerability and exposure have grown as I await their responses.
* A close friend is in a situation where she believes God is finally bringing about the fulfillment of her long-held dream for a man to share her life with. She has shared with me (and given me the okay to write) that while she wants to wholeheartedly trust what God is saying, others (and even her own heart) remind her often of the risk of letting her heart get involved… Especially when there isn’t concrete evidence yet that the fulfillment of that dream is imminent or even guaranteed.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts above all else because all that we do flows out of it. And yet we are asked to trust God completely. Trust nearly always involves risk. Synonyms for trust include faith, hope, and confidence. If we are to confidently hope in promises God has spoken, what do we do with those times when that hope opens our hearts to hurt? How can we both guard our hearts and trust simultaneously?
As I wrestled with this last week, I heard about the bombings in Lebanon and then the attacks in Paris. I have friends living in both of those places, called there to share with people the Love that casts out fear – now more important than ever in so many places around the world.
In thinking about my friends in these places, I remembered the years I spent in Afghanistan and the questions of well meaning friends about why I would move to such an obviously dangerous place. My answer was always the same. “The safest place for me to be is the center of God’s will.”
If God calls me to go and care for people in a war-torn country, I trust that He will take care of me. If God calls me to live in a seemingly safe place and care for the “least of these” there, He will take care of me there too. If He calls me to share all that I have with those fleeing the terror of the place they left, He will take care of me. Even if following His lead costs me all that I have, He will still take care of me.
As I thought about the physical danger that God has called some people to face in order to love others in His name, my wrestling ceased. I could, in the words of Psalm 46:10 (NSAB), “cease striving and know that [He] is God. [He] will be exalted among the nations…” The principle holds true for emotional risk as well. If God is calling me to put the depths of my heart on display for others to read, He will take care of it no matter what others choose to think of me when they have read it- whether friends or strangers.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As we submit everything we face to Jesus, no matter how scary it may seem, we can be confident in the hope that Christ gives us. It is His peace that guards our hearts and minds in the midst of any risk He calls us into, as long as we keep our focus on Him.
I don’t know what people will say when they read my story. I don’t know if my friend will see her hopes fulfilled in this relationship. I don’t know if loving and accepting others into my life, my city, or my country will leave an opening for danger to me or those I care about. I don’t know what situations God might be asking you to trust Him in the midst of today.
What I do know, however, is that He is trustworthy. No matter what the outcome is, He can and will work in every circumstance to bring about His best – for His glory and our good. So today, I’m choosing to trust Him and let Him do the guarding of my heart. I will leave all that I have in His care and step into the “dangerous” unknown with Him, trusting “without borders.”
Now, I think it’s time I work on a book…