It has been months since aligning words on a page came freely. Some refer to it as “writers block”—I liken it to a dam that’s full to bursting but continues to keep the flow of words from finally spilling onto paper. In my case, I believe that it was God withholding the flow of words as He has oriented me toward becoming more of an observer, rather than a writer. In this process, He has also been helping me to be a better listener as He challenges me with the age-old question, “Will you trust Me in this?”
When I think about answering that question–asked not in an audible voice but more like that “still small voice” referred to in the Bible–I feel a certain tension begin to well within me. In that moment, the gravity of my answer to the Creator of all that is good hits me at the very core—“WILL I trust Him . . . truly?”
My first memory of being asked that question was several years after I gave my heart to Christ. I was in my thirties when we were transferred to England with my husband’s job. We rented an old ‘flint and brick’ two-story home (built around the time of the American Civil War) in a village called Barrow. When we first toured the house with its large empty rooms and parquet floors—our children were especially delighted by how the house echoed as they skipped from room to room. It turned out to be a perfect fit for our family as we settled into our new life.
For the first six-months our expectations of living overseas seemed flawless. We developed friendships with our British neighbors as well as with the American families my husband worked with. I enjoyed being the only American in a Wednesday morning Bible study affiliated with a small church we were attending. Then one day, something the teaching leader said caught my attention that did not at all align with the text we were studying. Truly puzzled, I asked for a Scripture reference to support what she had said and she blithely admitted that there wasn’t one. Confused and disappointed I left the meeting feeling somehow betrayed . . . not knowing who I could trust. Later that afternoon, Olive, the woman who led the smaller group of five I was in–there were probably twenty or so women who attended the study—called to check on me at home. Still shaken, I expressed my confusion as Olive listened and then promised to pray for me. She added that the group had actually decided to split after I left. Olive then invited me to continue to meet with our smaller group at her home. I told her I would think about it, but that I needed to pray.
The house was quiet that afternoon, a rarity for our busy family. Confused, I sat down at our dining room table not really knowing what to pray except, “God, please help me!” When I stood up to move away from the table, I can still hear the echo of the dining room chair as it scraped across the parquet floor in my mind. Then in the next moment it happened: I took about two steps from the dining room into the hallway, when the question flashed through my mind, “Kathie, will you trust Me in this?” Dumbfounded, I looked up and down the hallway even though I knew I was alone. Again, the question filled my mind, “Kathie, will you trust Me in this?”
I stood there in the quiet, thinking about my confusion that morning and about Olive’s call. Looking back, it seems silly, but at the time I was so overwhelmed by my feelings that,
I decided NOT to respond to the question–
mainly because I didn’t want to be “rude to God” and say, “No!”
For two weeks I felt as if there was a small cloud following me everywhere I went asking, “Kathie, will you trust Me in this?” I did my best to ignore Him but finally, feeling tormented and almost desperate I responded, “YES LORD, I WILL TRUST YOU IN THIS!” And I did.
And do you know what happened?!! The pesky cloud left and I experienced a peace such as I had never experienced before. Oh, there were still problems to come and the road ahead would at times become steep and rocky; but Olive became like a spiritual mum to me in those three years and I grew in ways that eventually prepared me for challenges I would face in the future.
I was reminded of the seriousness of that question this week as I began reading Ann Voskamp’s most recent book: WayMaker—Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of.* In her book, she challenges the heart of every reader as she writes about how, when our EXPECTATIONS fall flat, we do also. When our lives (or the life of someone we care about) turns in a direction we would never have chosen, we are faced with that age old question: WILL WE TRUST HIM TRULY?
Living in a time when God’s call to love Him and our neighbor has been largely abandoned and hatred appears to have no bounds, there have been times when I have been at a loss as to know how to pray. Reading Scripture, particularly the Psalms in recent days, has helped to quell the waves of fear and cultural angst that I sometimes experience. This morning Psalm 32 brought calm to my perspective:
“Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in Him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!’
(Verses 10 and 11)
So how might we “switch gears” from focusing on the woes of a needy world to instead trust and rejoice in the unfailing love of God? Sometimes it helps to get to the heart of understanding our need, by answering questions from an outside source. Most recently, participating in the Study Guide** paired with Voskamp’s, WayMaker, has helped to move me from observer back to writing again.
In the first session of the Study Guide, the focus is on Stillness to Know God. I like how Ann stresses the benefits of choosing to be still before God:
“In stillness: Sanity is found. Sense is made of things.
The mar of the enemy is stilled and the soul can listen to the whisper of its Maker.”
(pg. 19 in Study Guide)
It is in that thoughtful stillness that we discover a willingness to trust Him despite our feelings. The question in the Guide that opened the floodgates for me was a simple one: “What are the expectations that are driving your agitation, your discontent, your life? Look each one in the eye and name them here.”
My response to the question was both startling and freeing for me as insights into my expectations seemed to flow out of my pen that I was not even aware of! Here, in part, is what I wrote:
“My expectation/desire is to experience heaven on earth. It is both shocking and disappointing to watch the arrogance of evil spit on God’s face. (Much, I suppose, as men did to Jesus on the Cross.) I want to think better of people (myself included) but what the Scriptures say is affirmed by what is reported in the news, “ALL have sinned and fall desperately short of the Holiness of God.” Truly, apart from the saving grace of Jesus—God’s mercy—this world would be hell and we would have no hope. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me (and those who place their trust in You) to one day experience heaven with You– and from an everlasting hell!“
I am grateful for the reminder that in the stillness—in the quiet of now—God calls His own to experience a small taste of heaven through Jesus’ presence in our lives.
One of the most chilling passages in Scriptures describing the world before Christ’s return, was written by the Apostle Paul to a younger man named, Timothy:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,
boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,
ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous,
without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure
rather than lovers of God—
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with such people.”
II Timothy 3:1-5
For those who know and trust Christ, no matter how arrogant and ugly the world becomes—God still cares and calls us to Himself. I am always strengthened when I read the first words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark:
“The time has come . . . the kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news!”
One of my “go-to” Psalms, especially when the world appears to be crumbling around me, points to that stillness that is essential to navigating through such times:
“Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations He has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
The age-old question the Lord of the Universe patiently asks– “Will you trust Me in this . . . truly?”—requires an answer given in faith:
YES LORD, I WILL TRUST YOU IN THIS!
No matter what you may be facing today,
He is worthy of your trust . . .❤️
All to His Glory!
*Ann Voskamp, WayMaker—Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of, W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2022.
**Ann Voskamp with Lisa Jo Baker, WayMaker Study Guide, Harper Christian Resources, Grand Rapids MI, 2022.