Trusting God and Not Yourself
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Trusting God and Not Yourself
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We have all seen that it is good as often as possible to draw back from what we’re doing and look at life from a distance. And so that’s why I ask you, just ask yourself the question at this moment, “What is it all in aid of? What is it all in aid of?” What’s the purpose of all this breathing that you’re doing, and all this eating that you’re doing, and drinking, and all this living, and all this getting up for work every morning, and going to bed at night, and slogging through the money-earning and the paying of the bills, and the having of children, and the marrying, and the being born and the dying? What is the point of it all?
I mean, what really is – whoever made us — what is he after? What is he really after in making you and me at all? What is God really after? Well, it’s stated very clearly for us, and I think you’ll see it, as long as you don’t go to sleep when you read it, because you know it so well. But it’s in Proverbs 3:5. This is the point of it all, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” Or the King James Version, I think reads, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not to thine own understanding.”
That’s what God is after. That’s the purpose of it all: to get you and me, during the 70 years or 80 years, that we have here on earth, to trust the Lord, and not to “rely on our own insight,” or to “lean to our own understanding.” That’s it. And you’re like me; we haven’t started off to well. I mean, we, most of us, have come to lean heavily on our own understanding, because almost from we were in our mother’s womb, we were leaning to our understanding. That is, from when we were in our mum’s womb we were leaning over in one direction, and that was to our own understanding.
And we did that because our mother was the daughter of her dad, of his dad, of his dad. And for generations our forefathers were leaning to their own understanding of things. And so even in our mother’s womb we tended to lean in that direction ourselves, so that when we got out in daylight, out of our mother’s womb, and we found our bedroom dark, and we heard a great sound, the combination of darkness and sound — even though we were little new-born babies — caused us such panic and such fear, because we immediately were “leaning to our own understanding;” and even though our little minds weren’t consciously working it out, we instinctively sensed, “This is darkness around us, and there’s a loud noise, I can’t understand it.” And we were filled with fear and filled with panic, and we cried out for our mom to come and lift us. And that was because we “leaned to our own understanding” from the moment we were born.
And actually that has carried on and been intensified in a thousand situations that you and I have encountered, right through school, right up into our first job, and right up into adulthood. So that actually we now lean heavily not only ‘to’ our understanding but we lean ‘on’ our understanding; we rely utterly on our own insight. So that if you or I hit a financial disaster, or a job crisis, we are immediately dependent only on our own understanding, and on our own insight. And we cannot see any answer to it; we cannot understand the way out of it; and immediately our lips go dry; the secretions in our mouth dry up; our muscles tense up, and we feel pain sometimes, even in our chest, or in other parts of our body. And we develop that strain and tension in our whole being that eventually kills us.
It’s that strain and tension disease that eventually kills us. And we do it because we immediately, automatically, instinctively lean on our own understanding. And our own understanding is so
limited, that there are a million things in this world that we don’t understand. There are a million forces that impinge upon our lives, that we can’t explain and we can’t deal with. And so, when we lean on our own understanding, any time we get to the edge of our own understanding or a little outside it, we’re in absolute chaos and we’re thrown into complete and utter dispeace and panic.
And loved ones, unless you’re very different from me, and very different from the rest of us, you know it just goes like that. I mean, it just goes like that. That’s the way we operate. Now the whole purpose of everything in our lives is, believe it or not, to get us out of that. That’s the whole purpose of it. The whole purpose of everything that God allows to happen to your life and mine, is to get us out of that leaning on our own understanding, and “trusting in the Lord.” That’s the reason for everything.
If you’re like me you’re coming up against situations, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Why can’t I handle this? Why can’t I get things I can handle? Why are things constantly occurring in my life that I don’t understand, or I can’t manage?” Because, God has planned it that way; because God knows finally you’re a little flea; you understand nothing about the universe outside the few inches of air around you, and really you don’t understand things, and you’re utterly dependent on him. And he wants you to see that.
Now you may say, “Oh well now wait a minute, I mean, some of these situations you talk about, these financial crises, or these job crises that we get into, they don’t require some kind of mystical stuff like this, they require action.” But loved ones, that’s what I’m talking about. “Trusting in the Lord,” fits you for appropriate action. “Leaning on your own understanding,” ‘unfits’ you for action.
My wife and I rode a motorbike in the early days, just after we left university. And one of the things we did was, decide to tour Europe on this BSA bike. And so we piled — I mean there were two of us on the motorbike, but there were twice the two of us on the back because we had tents, and all the stuff that goes with camping in Europe. And it went well until we hit Calais, and then the rain started to come down. And then the rain just kept coming down.
We more or less boated through Belgium on the bike with the water up to here [Pastor indicates his knee]. And then started to head down the Rhine Valley. And any of you who know the road down the Rhine Valley realize that there’s something very strange when you hit certain old German towns. And don’t forget the rain was blasting down. And certain German towns have not just blacktop; they don’t have ordinary concrete roads, they have cobblestones. Now, cobblestones are little round stones that probably we’ve seen over in Saint Anthony [a part of Minneapolis] there and when those get wet, that is worse than black ice to a motorcyclist.
And so we would come around sometimes leaning into a bend with the bike, and already it was difficult with all that weight on it, and you’d hit those cobblestones, and you knew you were on your way! Now, at that moment, the wrong thing to do is to hold that angle. If you hold that angle — which you do if you’re listening to your own understanding, you’re thinking, “I have to get around this, because there’s a wall in front of me; I’m on this bend; I have to get around.” It’s the worst thing you can do! The bike will keep going out from under you!
The right thing, actually, at that moment, is to straighten the bike up; go straight towards the wall; put the front brakes on — hard, and the telescopic forks bite the tire into the road, and
give you the best chance to stop; even though you’re heading straight for the wall. But at least you’re vertical. It’s almost impossible to do that — we call it carrying on to depot, because it refers to the old tram lines that carried on to depot. It’s impossible to carry on to depot, if you’re leaning on your own understanding, because everything inside you, every instinct says, “I hold that bike over; that’s the only way I’m getting around this bend.” Anybody with any sense won’t straighten the bike up.
If at that moment, you say, “This is my Father’s world. Lord, you are here; this is your bike; this is your air; these are your cobblestones; this is your life; you knew this was going to happen. Father, I know you’re in control.” And if peace comes upon you at that moment, the mind is far better able to work coolly and calmly, and to straighten the bike up, and take the appropriate action.
Loved ones, it’s the same with you; you know it. You know the situations you get into; and you’d be far better able to be quiet and to think calmly and quietly, so that you could understand with your mind what God was directing you to do in that situation, if instead of leaning to your own understanding immediately, you trusted in the Lord, and you said, “Lord God, you know this situation. This is your job that I’ve just lost. This is your life that I’m living. This is your plan. Father, I know you have full control of this, and I thank you that you have, and I look forward to your answer to this problem.” In other words, trusting in the Lord is not just some mystical thing; it actually brings a peace to you that enables you to think what action you should take in the most efficient way.
Now loved ones, that’s what the Father is trying to do with us. He’s trying to wean us away from leaning to our own understanding, and instead trusting the Lord. Now if you say to me, “Well, I mean why? Why trust the Lord, instead of leaning to my own understanding? I mean, I understand what you say, that our predecessors have been doing it from the beginning of the world.” You remember, that’s what happened in the Garden of Eden, I mean, God said, “Eat of the tree of life don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” But our forefathers said, “Look, it is our own knowledge of what is good and evil in each circumstance; it is our own understanding; it’s our own insight into this world, and into what we are doing here that will keep us safe, and keep us alive; so we’ll eat of that tree.” And so they ate of that tree. And we’ve been eating of it ever since.
So instead of receiving life from God at that moment, through a confidence in him, they began to depend on their own knowledge of what was right and wrong. And so we’ve been doing that ever since. You might say, “Well, we’ve been doing it ever since; but I mean, why change? Why should we change?” Because there’s coming a moment in your life and mine when we get to the edge of space. There’s going to come a moment in your life and mine where we get to the edge of space. And at that moment we launch out into nothingness; there’s just darkness out there. And if we launch out into that darkness with just our own understanding, we will be lost, and spend eternal life in that darkness. That’s right.
I mean, you know yourself, you hardly understand everything about your own job situation. You certainly don’t understand everything about everybody else’s job that they do around you. You certainly don’t have a clear understanding of what’s going to happen to you next year. You don’t have a clear understanding of even why the air enables you to breathe. There are a million things that we don’t understand, but you think of that moment when we get to the edge of space, at the moment of death, and we launch out into darkness, you and I understand nothing about that.
Now it is good loved ones, to see that the Father has warned us about this. It’s in 2 Thessalonians 1:8. It’s actually a place where God has inspired Paul to talk about the coming of Jesus and you see Jesus will come, “Inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” Those who don’t know God will go into outer darkness forever. I’m simply saying to you that all of us are going to come to a moment of death, where we’re faced with something we don’t understand at all; so that’s one strong reason for beginning to trust the Lord now, because there’s going to come a time where you have to trust him anyway. There’s going to come a time where you’re going to face something that all your understanding, all your insight won’t help you with. At that moment, it’s vital that you are, in fact, trusting the Lord. And you remember he said in Psalm 91 that if you put your trust in him you will not be afraid for “the arrow that flies by day, nor for the pestilence that stalks in darkness.” And even at that moment the “darkness will be light around you,” if you’re trusting him. So that’s one reason why we need to trust him.
The other reason is plan and obvious; you’re dependent on him anyway. You’re dependent on him anyway! We’re just bluffing ourselves that we’re not! You’re dependent on him anyway.
I remember when I was 13; we were just little guys, a group of us who were in the hockey team at school. And one of the dearest fellows on the hockey team was a little guy called Robin Young whose father was a doctor. This was in Ireland. And one morning Robin didn’t come to school. At breakfast table that morning he had just died of a congenital heart defect. He had just died. And I remember, when I look back, these — there were 10 or 11 of us, 11 little 13 year olds gathered around the grave in this cemetery; and I mean, it was just bewildering to us. But at that moment we suddenly realized it wasn’t just old people that die.
Our life is utterly in the Father’s hands. Loved ones, we can talk in very high flown language this morning, with all kinds of complex philosophical theories about ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty of the will’, and the ‘sovereignty of God’, and the ‘restrained sovereignty of God’ but finally, “Look, you can’t guarantee that you haven’t a little blood clot whipping around somewhere.” And you and I can’t tell – we say by faith in God’s nature that he doesn’t send blood clots. But really we’re utterly dependent on his good faith in the whole deal, because we have an idea that some of us have blood clots whipping around and some of them don’t cause trouble. We have a feeling that half of us here have diseases that would kill the other half, and for some reason they don’t kill us. In other words we’re absolutely dependent on the Father anyway.
I mean, I ask you, “Why don’t you suddenly rise up and disappear into the sky?” I mean, it’s very reasonable; you’re actually on a globe that is spinning around thousands of miles an hour, the centrifugal force should whip you right off, and you should go for the moon. I mean, you really should. And then you reply to me very learnedly, “Well, you see it’s the law of gravity which I fully understand.” And we have no idea; we just give it a name, because it makes us feel comfortable. And we think we can describe some of its tendencies until Einstein, or some other guy, shows us that it really doesn’t work anyway.
In other words, brothers and sisters, we’re utterly dependent on this dear Father anyway. You see, you’re depending on him. The silly thing is this; you’re like that old guy — and I’ll just tell it quickly, because you all know the story probably so well by now, the old guy that was struggling along with the wood on his back; and another young man comes along with a cart and horse. And the
young man says, “Will you get up and I’ll give you a ride.” So the old guy gets up on the cart and they ride along, and the young fellow notices the old fellow still has the wood on his back. And he says to him, “Why don’t you put your wood down in the cart?” And the old fellow says, “Oh, I couldn’t dream of asking you and your donkey to carry my wood as well as me.” And the young fellow says, “Argh! Well, who’s carrying it? It’s me that’s carrying it.”
But, we’re a bit like that; we still have our wood on our shoulder, and we say, “No, no, I couldn’t ask you Lord, to carry this burden of a lost job as well. No, I’ll carry it.” But loved ones, he’s carrying it all, anyway. Our lives are utterly dependent on him; they’re absolutely in his hands, whether we like it or not.
In other words, there’s a deep place of peace for you, that actually you can begin to enter into this morning. And that deep place of peace is just recognizing reality; that’s it. I don’t want to be offensive to those of us who are very religious, or those of us who are Christians, but it’s not even a matter of joining a sect, or a denomination, or being very Christian, or being very religious, or being very churchy, it’s just common sense. We are absolutely and utterly dependent on the Creator who made us, and on him sustaining our lives. And he only has to breathe twice and change the makeup of the air on our earth, and we all die of too much hydrogen or too much nitrogen, or something else.
We’re utterly dependent on him, and it is only sense and reality to stop pretending that we’re carrying our own ‘bundle of wood’; to stop pretending that his ‘old donkey’ is not carrying our ‘wood’ as well as us ourselves. It is! The Father is carrying you at this moment; the Father is the one that keeps you alive at this moment. Waken up; wise up; realize reality; see that you are in God’s hands; whether you like it or not, you are in the hands of your Maker, and you’re utterly dependent upon him.
Loved ones, great peace comes into all our hearts, when we at last acknowledge that. Really! Just acknowledge that, and just begin to trust in the Lord, instead of relying on your own insight. If you say to me, “Isn’t our own insight needed?” Yes, yes. “Isn’t our own understanding?” Yes, to understand what ‘God’ is doing, and to understand what directions God is giving you, but not for you to go to work yourself with your own miserable little insight and little understanding, as if you’re absolutely on your own, and have to somehow deliver yourself from this mess you’re in. You’re not! That’s unreal! That’s ungrateful to your Father. It’s not common sense.
The truth is, you are your Father’s child; he loves you; he has taken all this trouble to make you and to see you through this far; he’s kept feeding you with air everyday in your life; he keeps your heart beating even though there’s not a doctor that can explain exactly why the heart beats. Your Father keeps on keeping you alive, because he wants you to face reality and to begin to trust in him.
Now, trust in him is an inner thing; it’s an inner attitude of your heart. For instance, you come into a financial crisis. Too many of us, faced with that say, “Well, of course Pastor, we trust the Lord. We do; we trust the Lord in a general kind of way. I trust the Lord, but now I have this financial crisis. Now, it’s up to me to sort out tonight, lying in bed, tossing and turning, to work out what possible answers there are to this financial crisis. Yeah, I could do that; I could do that; I could do that. Yeah, okay, I’ve got three options. Alright, now I think I can see how it could work. Now Lord, now I put the whole thing in your hands now that I’ve worked it out, and I trust you to help me to choose the right one of these options that I have very cleverly originated,
and I trust you to help me apply it and work through it.” And then we go to sleep more or less. We more or less go to sleep, because there are some things we’re not quite clear on option number two, and we kind of check back with our mind to see if we’ve covered all the bases.
Now loved ones, that isn’t trusting the Lord; that’s bluff; that’s humanism. That’s the attitude of a self made man or woman, full of self effort, full of a confidence that if they don’t find the answer there’s nobody else will find the answer. That’s what that is. That’s not trusting the Lord. That’s a self made man or woman saying, “With a little help from my friends, with a little help from you Lord, I’ll sort this thing out.” That’s humanism. It’s ‘I’ will do the work; I need a little help from you Lord, in some ways, but don’t worry; I’ve got this thing under control.
Now that isn’t trusting the Lord. Trusting the Lord is, you cease thinking about it; you cease thinking about it. You stop thinking about the problem. You stop it! Now loved ones, I know that sounds like suicide, but that’s what trusting the Lord is. You stop your own insight working on it; you stop your own understanding getting to work on it. You put your trust in the Lord; you cease thinking about the problem, the financial crisis. And you say to the Lord, “Father, I know that I’m with you in life and in death. I know I’m with you whether I’m successful or unsuccessful. I know I’m with you whether I’m bankrupt or not. Father this is your life and this is not my problem. I refuse to accept this problem. You allowed this thing to come up just so you could manifest the power and the victory of Jesus, in his resurrection and his ascension to your right hand. And Lord I commit this problem into your hands. And I thank you Lord, that you allowed it to come because you have an answer for it. And the only reason you allowed it to come, because you have an answer for it. And the only reason you allowed it to come was to manifest Jesus’ power, so that I would see it to. So I give it into your hands. And now I turn over and I go to sleep like a baby free and at peace.”
And then, through the night, the dear Father gradually gets together in your mind, the solutions and the answer that he had from the beginning of the world. And sometime through the next day or the following day; or maybe it’s not for a week; or maybe two weeks if the Lord thinks you need a little testing, and he needs to work a little more on your trust. But gradually there will be begotten in your mind God’s solution. That’s why the greatest — well the one that we perceive as the greatest intellect of our era, Einstein. That’s why Einstein, with his magnificent mind, said, “All ideas come from God.” All ideas come from God, except the ones that come from Satan, through our own exertion of our own pitifully small, little minds and understandings.
And you know if any of you say, “Well, then you don’t need your mind.” Of course you need your mind; you need your mind to understand. That’s what Einstein used his mind for. He used his mind to express in deductive, explicit detail the intuitive insight that God had give him. So you’ll need to use your mind to apply all the things, but it will be applying something you’ve got already; the big picture solved; the big solution is there; the answer is clear, and you just have to work out how to apply it. All the strain is gone out of the situation. You’re not trying to solve it; you’re simply trying to apply the solution in the right way.
Loved ones, that’s what trusting in the Lord is. It’s putting the thing into the Father’s hands and trusting him. It’s not, “Trying to work it out and get some help from God.” It’s absolute living trust in God. It’s trusting in the Lord, and not in your own understanding. And loved ones, that’s what the Father has for you and me. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life; it doesn’t matter where you are in your career; where you are in your married or your single life. That’s what the Father is endeavoring to do with you, to get you at last – in fact, often — I can imagine we’ll
enjoy it when we see him; he’s such a dear person. But I’m sure he’s often saying, “Don’t help me. Don’t help me. Don’t help me.” He’s saying, “Don’t help me; I have the answer. I have all the plans for your life; I have all the solutions; just don’t help me; just trust me. Trust me!” “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” with all of your heart; not with part of your heart, but with all of your heart.
It’s the same in personal relationship things, or a kind of domestic tragedy of some kind, or something that has gone wrong. It’s the same situation; refuse to accept it as your problem; put it in the Father’s hands and trust him with it with all your heart.
The incredible thing is, we are meant to be happy people. We’re meant to be happy people. You know how many of us look back to when we were children, to when we were four or five year old. And it was just great; mom did everything; dad did everything; we didn’t have to look for our food; we didn’t have to watch out where our next meal was coming from; we didn’t have to plan our vacations; they planned it all. That’s why God says to us through Jesus, “The kingdom of heaven will be peopled by little children.” It will be peopled by people who trust their Father, and who relax in his arms, and who trust in the Lord with all their heart.
That’s what the Father wakened me with on Saturday morning, so I know that a number of you have to receive that as God’s word this morning. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” That’s it. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” And the way we do that, I’d like to share next Sunday. But, you can start doing it now because God has given you some light about it this moment. Let us pray.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” Father, we see the sense of it; we see the logic of it and the reason for it, but Lord, we know that we still have the ability to reject all reason, and all logic, and all common sense, in order to depend on ourselves. Father, we come to you this morning and we think of some of the situations that we’re facing; we think of some of the intractable problems, and the unmanageable people that we have to deal with. And Father, we’re going to draw right back from these things. We simply refuse to accept them as our problems. We believe Father, that you know everything about them and indeed that you saw them coming to us before they arrived, and yet you did not filter them through your fingers, you let them come through to us, and so we know our Father, that you have a solution to these things.
So Lord, now we draw back these mighty minds of ours; we withdraw these great thoughts; we stop these great understandings of ours working; we draw back from these proud insights that we have. Father, we simply stop thinking about these things right now. For us this is an expression of faith, not irresponsibility. And so Father, we stop thinking about these this very moment. You made this beautiful day so that we could enjoy it. You gave us good companions so that we could give ourselves wholly to them, and enjoy ourselves, and be happy with them in your world. You didn’t make us to mope and brood, and worry, and be anxious. So Father, we draw back from these things now, and we hand them into your hand. And Lord, we put them firmly in your hands, and we look steadfastly to you; and we put our “trust in the Lord with all our hearts.” And we will no longer “lean to our own understanding.” And we will sleep well at night.
Father, we thank you. Thank you for your kindness; thank you for your patience with us as you’ve seen us ‘sitting on your cart pretending that we were carrying our own bundle of wood’. Thank you for your kindliness to us Lord. And we’re sorry that we’ve spent so much time coming to reality,
but Father, we intend from this day forward to “trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to rely on our own insight.” We give ourselves to you to do this, this very day, that we might live lives of joy in Jesus, and love for each other.
And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us, now and ever more. Amen.