Before we had babies, we had a dog. She looked like a Holstein, so we named her Moo. Though a bit neurotic, Moo was a sweet and loving dog. She had a quirky habit of behaving like a cat, sneaking up beside me while I’d be cooking dinner and rubbing against my legs, leaning into me hard. I’d give her a pat on the rump and then step away…and she’d fall flat over. She’d look at me a bit scornfully and then wander off to a more reliable source of comfort, the heating vent.
In my struggles to find release lately, I’ve been considering what it means to lean into God, to lean into Him hard, like Moo would lean into me. I feel the pressure mounting, I feel burdens stacking, I feel expectations being handed out to me like homework assignments. I feel shame at not measuring up, and I feel exhausted from trying.
I’ve learned well how to not lean on anyone but myself. You can’t trust people, right? That’s no way to go through life. It’s just not safe. Someone might get hurt.
But lately I have found myself at the end. It’s like I put my foot out for the next step, and it wasn’t there. And so, like Moo, I found myself falling unexpectedly, because I had relied on a weak support system–myself. I feel that change is needed, I want it to change, but I just don’t know anything else.
I don’t know how to trust that when I lean into God, He’s not going to move away.
Do you feel the weight of that? Do you hear what I just said?
“God, I don’t trust You.”
How does someone with trust issues, learn how to trust? How do I learn how to lean into God, trusting that He’s going to catch me?
I go searching, and God whispers me this:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
And I look it up, read a few verses on, and my breath catches.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
This is what will bring health to my body?
I have suffered long with chronic illness–pain in my gut that is relentless. Pain that doesn’t care if I’m on vacation, if it’s my son’s birthday, or if I have lessons to teach. I try everything–every kooky treatment, every herb, every special diet, every medication–nothing brings relief. I pray, beg, for healing, and God says “No.”
I’ve long suspected that my body, my mind, and my spirit are more integrated than I can even begin to understand. But to find it here, when all I’m looking for is direction on how to trust God, to find a reason why I should trust God–it catches me off guard.
But wait, it gets better:
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Have I not been wrestling with this very fear, of not having enough, of not giving enough, of not being enough? Fear that when I open my hands to honor Him with my wealth, that there will be nothing left there for me.
Take a breath, because it doesn’t stop there.
…Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Have I not also been weary of the Lord’s discipline, begging for release, exhausted by his reproofs? Sure that if God turns his gaze upon me once more that I will be crushed under the weight of it.
Obviously God is not careless in the juxtaposition of His words. There is a reason why “lean not on your own understanding” is followed by “bring health to your body” which is followed by “your barns will be filled with plenty” and close on its heels is “do not despise the Lord’s discipline.” There is a common theme, the underlying tectonic plate that shapes all of the mountains and valleys of my surface.
Trust in the Lord.
I am breathless. I have been sucker punched by the Holy Spirit, in a most beautiful and merciful way.
Lean into Him–hard.
Lean into Him like I know He’s going to catch me, like I know He’s not going to move away.
And this will bring me nourishment, restoration, from the inside out. Because even if my pain is not removed and my illness not healed, if my barns are actually empty and my vats dry, if I continue to be disciplined and reproofed, even in all of this if I have learned to trust God, then I can also trust His purposes. To trust and to know that He has good reason for making me ill, for bringing me pain, and for emptying my barns.
Isn’t it so often the case that things from God don’t look like what we expect? I pray for healing and expect to be healed. I pray for provision and expect a pay raise. I pray for strength and expect to be made strong. But instead of healing my body, He heals my spirit. Instead of providing for my belly He provides for my soul. And instead of making me strong, He makes me weak, so that I can learn to trust His strength and learn to lean into Him, fully and completely.