When I was a young girl, we sang a song in our church titled “Trust and Obey”. It is an old hymn that is not sung very often “now-a-days”. But the other day I was thinking of trust, and that hymn came to mind.
Trust. It is a word that we hear often today in the phrase “Just trust me!” But what is trust? And should we just go around trusting everyone? If not, who or what is worthy of our trust?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary says that trust is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.
One example of trust is sitting in a chair. When I lower myself into a chair, I trust that it will hold me and that it will not crumble under my weight. If I sit on a little plastic chair in the toddler nursery at church, it is likely that it will break and I will be on the floor – in other words it was not something in which I should have placed my trust. The object of my trust was unable to accomplish that which I expected. In other words, the object of your trust is important!
When we see a parent tossing a baby in the air, with the child laughing and squealing in delight, only to then be caught by the parent, we see an excellent example of trust. The child is not fearful that he will fall to the ground – his parent is there to catch him. The child relies on the parent totally: that, too, is trust.
When our young grandson had not yet learned to swim, he was fearful of jumping in the water. While he did not want to plunge into the unknown, his father was there with open arms, hands ready to greet him in the water. But for his trust in is father, he would have satisfied himself with running around the edge of the pool and would never have gone in to experience the thrill of swimming.
Scripture speaks of trust often. In fact, the word “trust” is used in the Psalms 35 times.
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.”
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
“I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””
Proverbs speaks of trusting.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
And the prophet Isaiah extols God as he speaks of his trust in Him.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.“
Scripture also makes clear that the object of your trust is important. In other words, does whatever you put your trust in merit your trust, is it trustworthy? Some things are not, even though they may appear strong and invincible.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.”
Both the Psalmist and the prophet warn that some things simply are not trustworthy. This is in comparison to the Lord, Who is totally trustworthy. What God says He will do, will, in fact, be accomplished. When God says that He will keep His children in His hand, nothing will be able to take us out of His hand. God’s promises are true and sure, and they will come to pass in His time and at His good pleasure.
“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
So, who or what do you trust? Are you trusting in your strength and power, the modern equivalent of chariots and horses? Are you trusting in your wealth and position, your title or your education? Are you trusting in your good works or your charitable activities? Nothing in this world is worthy of your trust for eternity because nothing in this world is eternal. Rather, trust in the LORD. He is worthy of your trust. He is strong and powerful so that you will find your trust is not misplaced when it is in Him.
Hear the hymn “Trust and Obey” as presented by Don Moen in this beautiful rendition complete with lyrics and picturesque scenery.
Father, forgive me when I have taken my eyes off Jesus and misplaced my trust in my own strength or activities. Forgive me when I have relied on material things for security when You are the only true security in this world now and for eternity. Forgive me when I have failed to trust and obey, two words that are so easy to say but sometimes to difficult to accomplish. Enable me, through Your Spirit, to do Your will as a trust and obey Your voice today.
Drive down neighborhood roads early in the morning and you are well aware that school has begun. The school zone speed limit signs are blinking and, on many streets, the police cars are waiting to pull speeders over when they disregard the sign and blast past the school while children are present.
The backpacks have been purchased and innumerable school supplies have been obtained to fill them as the children march toward their destiny in their new classrooms. The younger children are, by and large, excited about the new grade level and the excitement that awaits. [First day of kindergarten with backpack and smiles – a strong face concealing a bit of trepidation!]
The older youths are a bit more jaded and it is not quite as “cool” to be excited about the change as are their younger siblings.
Parents also go through a “school transition” of sorts … just watch a mother standing at the bus stop with her kindergarten child. As the bus pulls up, the child ascends the steps and, if you look closely, often the mother is daubing her eyes. Her little chick has left the nest for, possibly, the first time and it is a transition because there is the awesome awareness that a new chapter in the child’s life is about to begin. [First born getting on the bus for first day at kindergarten, while Mom is holding back the tears of pride and fear all at the same time!]
There are times that we tend to think that all education is to be handled by the school … or perhaps by the church. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
The primary teacher for the child is the parent then grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members.
While this seems to run counter to our culture, Scripture is clear that teaching the children is the paramount role of the parents. Solomon, who was known as the wisest man on earth, penned the book of Proverbs as a record of his teaching to his son. The book begins:
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth – … The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Emphasis not found in text of Scripture)
Long before Solomon wrote the proverbs contained in the Scripture, God directed the Israelites to instruct their children in the commands of God. In Deuteronomy 6:1-7, the children or Israel were commanded to keep the commandments that the Lord gave to them, and further they were to “teach them diligently to your children…”
In Exodus chapter 13, God instituted the annual feast of unleavened bread to commemorate the people’s leaving Egypt by the mighty hand of God. At verse 8, the people are instructed to tell the children that the reason for the feast was “because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.”
After the Israelites went through the Jordan on dry land, Joshua took 12 stones, one for each tribe, and set up a pillar. Then he told the people:
“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’, then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’”
Clearly, teaching occur during a wide multitude of activities.
Time spent with children can teach various skills, but mostly will teach about relationships, enjoying being with each other, and the value of sharing time together in God’s marvelous creation.
Sometimes our “teaching” will result in the discovery of a new hobby that could last a lifetime. Or, it might confirm the fact that “I don’t want to touch that!” But no matter what, learning will come through the experience.
Sometimes teaching a skill, such as swimming, will result in nothing more than having fun … but that is all too important in a world full of strife, pressure and challenges. Knowing how to have fun while parents, grandparents or other adults are watching is, in itself, something worth learning.
Most importantly, however, through prayer and attention, we teach them to love the Lord, to live a life that is full in Christ, to pray when facing difficulty or just to commune with the Living God, to learn and develop their own personalities while, at the same time, becoming responsible for their own actions and understanding that God is Sovereign. This kind of teaching occurs during the act of living. Just watch the preschooler mimic you.
One example that stands out in my mind was the child we were babysitting for who stood in our porch, holding a Golden Book with the pages facing us, as if she were the teacher reading us the story. However, she was too young to read; rather, she was saying, and I quote: “Blah, blah, blah, … [slight pause] I don’t wanna hear about it!” Then she would turn the page, look at it as if reading the words, turn the book around so the new page faced us, and then repeat the same statement with the same cadence, rhythm and sing-song form each time she said it. It was clear that she had heard this phrase often in her home. She may not have known what it meant, but she knew how to say it!
Or consider the parent who was shocked when the 3 year old let out an expletive only to hear himself say the same thing when he hit his finger with a hammer. If we say it, they will, in all probability, say it as well. The phrase “your actions speak louder than words” is much more than a catchy phrase!
If you don’t want them to curse – you should not curse.
If church is important to you – you should go with your child to church, not just drop the child off at the door.
If prayer is important to you – you should pray in front of and with your child, not just direct the child to pray at bedtime.
If God’s Word (the Holy Bible) is important to you – you should read it in front of, and also along with, your child.
It behooves us to be sure that our actions are consistent with the words that we speak, especially when children are listening or observing what we are doing.
In Proverbs 22:6 we read: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” See also Proverbs 22:15.
Teaching or training our children means much more than just providing a computer or iPad and letting them look around, play games or watch movies. Teaching our children includes information from school, certainly; but the more important lessons relate to our teaching of Jesus Christ, teaching of God’s sovereignty and majesty, teaching of sin and salvation, teaching of God’s love and mercy combined with His holiness and justice. And, teaching our children includes teaching that actions have consequences and that discipline is an important part of growth, training and living.
God disciplines each of those He loves and we should discipline our children. The writer of Hebrews says the following about discipline in chapter 12:6-10:
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. … Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
I am surely not advocating for child abuse, or even for spanking or other form of physical punishment, necessarily; but I am advocating for loving discipline that trains the child and brings wisdom. Ephesians 6:4. Discipline includes development of self-discipline which affects virtually the entire life, including things like diet, alcohol use, actions while partying, sexual purity, fidelity in marriage, money usage and savings, etc.
Leaving the yard vegetation without pruning or guidelines results in weeds growing wild and choking out the good plants and shrubs growing spindly and weak. Likewise, leaving children to raise themselves results in children who do not know God or follow His commands, who do not understand boundaries, who do not respect authority, who do not have the discipline to live productive lives.
We must not waste our opportunity to teach, discipline, and train our children. Our time with children is important, and it is limited!
Father, forgive me when I have focused on the mundane and have ignored the weightier matters when speaking with my own children and grandchildren. Holy Spirit, please guide me as I teach by example and let my words be consistent with my actions. May the children I come in contact with see Jesus and His love put into action as I interact with them. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your guidance and presence.