Plumb Line #8: Where Trust Exists, God Moves

Posted by Pastor J.D. on July 7, 2016
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Plumb lines are a series of short, pithy statements that we, at the Summit, use as rallying points—both for our staff and for the entire church. They are a way to encapsulate our ministry philosophy in short, memorable phrases.

Plumb Line #8 at the Summit is: “Where trust exists, God moves.”

The Gospel of Luke records one of the most theologically bizarre stories in the entire Bible. As Jesus is walking through a crowd, a woman who needs healing comes up behind him and stealthily touches the hem of his garment. Instantly she’s healed. But Jesus doesn’t seem to know all the details. He even asks his disciples who touched him, because, as he puts it, “I perceive that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).

Here’s what amazes me about that passage: Jesus talks about his healing power as if it were a reflex that he can’t control. It seems like an involuntary response generated by the woman’s faith. If you’re a theologian, that’s got to bother you. Aren’t we talking about God here, who knows the end from the beginning? Does he really mean to imply that this woman surprised him?

No, not literally. But Jesus intends to teach us something important here. This story shows us that God’s response to faith is so reliable that it might as well be an involuntary reflex. As we say at the Summit, where trust exists, God moves. Faith enacts a power from God that simply isn’t available until you believe. When you believe, God begins to work. If you don’t, he won’t. The Apostle Peter walked on water because he believed. When he stopped believing, he began to sink.

Now, I want to be clear: God is not a genie in a bottle that we can manipulate into doing whatever we want. Faith may prompt God to act, but we can’t guarantee that God’s actions will always look how we expect. He remains sovereign. He remains in control. Still, the Gospel depictions of Jesus show us a God who responds to faith every single time. I might even go so far as to say that in the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t respond to “prayer” so much as he responds to faith. He criticizes people for praying long prayers (Matt 6:7). But when someone believes—even if that belief is imperfect and confused—Jesus acts.

This has absolutely transformed the way that I pray. I realized recently that when I used to pray, I would essentially tell God the things I wished would happen. But I would end the prayer feeling as restless as before, because I wasn’t trusting God with it and leaving it with him. So now I’ve begun the practice of saying to God after I pray, “God, I trust you with this.” I know that when I place my trust in him, he has to move. God will never abandon those who lean on him in faith. Will his answer look exactly how I imagine? Probably not. But will he move with goodness and grace? Absolutely. He’s promised that he will. Where trust exists, God moves.

Recently our staff took a short spiritual retreat, and one of the exercises we did was to re-write Psalm 136 in our own words. Psalm 136 is a psalm about God being faithful to Israel over and over, with the recurring line, “for his steadfast love endures forever.” I wrote out all the ways I’ve seen God work faithfully in my life—directing me, awakening me, providing for me. When I looked back over what I had written, I realized how faithfully God, through his steadfast love, had worked in my life. My parents, godly as they were, didn’t engineer the most strategic moments in my life. God did.

Then I thought about my own kids. Like most parents, I worry a lot about being the right kind of parent to them. What if I mess it up? Then it hit me: God’s steadfast love hasn’t changed. If God had been faithful to me, couldn’t I trust him to be faithful to them? So I wrote out, “God, I trust you to work in the lives of my children.” And as a parent, suddenly I am walking on water.

God says that when we trust in him with all our heart, he promises to direct our paths and sustain our steps. As parents. As students. In our careers, in our relationships, in our successes, in our failures. In all of it. When we lean on him, he moves. The only question is: Are you trusting God with every aspect of your life?

 

For more, be sure to check out our entire list of plumb lines here.

Pastor J.D.

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J.D. Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). More

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