I can remember as a child before my long hiatus away from the church sitting in the seats and listening to a hymn. There were quite a few hymns that I enjoyed as a child, but this one was the only “slow” one that I liked. I think being in the church of Christ there was an admiration for the way the church harmonized and the voices of the congregation loudly proclaimed the glory of the Lord. I sometimes miss it, but am very much in love with the worship bands and moving instruments of my current Sunday gatherings. In recent days this hymn has come back into my memory and spoken a whole new word to me so many years later. The refrain, or chorus goes like this:
Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
The phrase “Trust and obey” is not one foreign to me. See, for as long as I can remember my dad has been giving me the same advice. Not having grown up with him in the same house, well not even the same state, I would often call him for advice. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find myself in situations that I just didn’t know how to get myself out of. I would call him, and even still sometimes do knowing that the same two words would come out of his mouth: “Trust and Obey bud.”
I laugh now, but it used to really kind of upset me. I can remember hanging up most times and thinking to myself; “Trust and obey, thanks a lot for that advice dad, once in a while I would like for you to tell me how to get out of this situation.” I would call and call hoping one day to get some advice, and it would always end up the same way, “Trust and obey.” I was starting to think that this was his favorite hymn. For a guy who had his first child at the age of 17 and had no idea what to do, constantly worrying about finances and how I was going to pay for this and that, or provide for my family over the years, trust and obey just wasn’t something that I wanted to hear. I wanted to know exactly what to do from experience and I needed answers so I would go and find them one way or another. The problem?
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. Psalm 1a, NASB
Seeking out the advice of those who do not trust in the Lord or whose delight is not in His laws often leads to more bad choices and a deeper hole to try and dig out of. I have learned that after time and time again of seeking out a second opinion, the first from my dad was truly wisdom from God. “Trust and Obey, bud.” Dad knew that he didn’t have the answer, and didn’t pretend to either. In fact the prelude to his advice was often, “Your asking the wrong guy, I don’t know what to tell you other than…” you know the rest. He is wright, and he knew that the best way to get me to the answers that I was looking for was to point me to the One who knows all things and provides wisdom to all who ask. (James 1:5)
But what does it mean? This has been my question for many years now. What do you mean by trust and obey? How do you do that? I think that I trust, and I want to obey, I just don’t know how. Jesus gives some insight on this in Matthew 6. In verse 24 Jesus says that we can’t serve two masters. We cannot allow money or the love of money to rule over us to determine our lives, otherwise we will not love Jesus or submit to His authority. If we allow money to have authority over out lives we cannot also let Jesus. Directly after that he talks about anxiety over what we will eat or wear. He talks about our worrying over the basic needs of life; food, shelter, clothing. He then provides examples of how God the Father cares for His creation. He provides for the lowly birds and the fields, and reminds us how much more valuable we are then they are. Then He says:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Jesus talks earlier in chapter 6 about not storing up possessions that are meaningless in light of eternity, but to live for and work for eternity. Then here He is talking about the very thing that I have been questioning for years. Trust and obey! He says not to worry about the things that life brings, the needs that your Father in Heaven have already provided for you. But focus on the Kingdom. Seek to live for Him, obey His commands, do as He says. Anyone who has been worried about something knows that it distracts you from all other aspects of life. If this is the truth, would it not do the same thing to our spiritual walk with Jesus. What about listening for His voice in telling what it is we are to do? If we are so worried about the things that God has already promised to provide then we are not listening carefully to what He will have us do, or where He will have us go, or how to get out of this sticky situation. We are distracted by worry and not listening for our directions.
Dad’s advice to me was simple and right. Trust in the promises of Jesus so that you can listen for His commands and obey what He has for you to do. I believe that David was a “man after God’s own Heart” not because he was perfect, this is obviously contrary to the truth, but because whatever God said to do, David was ready to do it. He would ask God what to do next, where to go next. Just like in the face of Goliath, David trusted God to deliver the giant into his hands, he trusted God to guide him and provide for him all of his needs. Not perfectly, but his deepest desires were for the will of God.
Jesus said that if we will seek out what God has for us to do, walk in obedience to His commands, and live our lives for His Kingdom and glory, He’s got the rest. Trust Him and do what He says. Simple! (Not easy, just simple) So let’s not be distracted with the worry over things that the Lord has promised to provide for us, but focus on doing His will, obeying His commands, and teaching others to do the same. My prayer is that when my son comes to me seeking advice, I have the wisdom and humility that my dad had and give him the same advice. “Trust and obey bud, trust and obey.”