What Does It Mean to Trust God? Part 1

Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis

This Week at Plymouth, March 8, 2024

I’ve found a Friend, who is all to me.

—Jack P. Scholfield, Saved, Saved!

I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplications.

—Psalm 116:1

Last Sunday, at the end of the group discussion before worship, I concluded a presentation of my spiritual and theological autobiography by saying that I am confident in my life, journey, and ministry because I trust God. I have said something like this many times before. But after this time, someone said they would love to hear a sermon about trusting God. For the last few days, I’ve been asking myself how to elaborate on what it means to trust in God that is accessible and practical. How can I explain what is happening to me that I characterize it as trust in God? So, this is my first attempt (and it won’t be my last) to explain trusting God that doesn’t sound like a platitude or devolves into an exercise in apologetics.

There was a time when God was, for me, only a means to an end. A relationship with God was all about getting to heaven or receiving abundant blessings (most often material). When I left the church, I was able to let go of the image of God as an instrument for personal salvation or prosperity. However, when I returned to church after years of avoiding it, I found myself in the presence of a God that promised none of those “rewards.” It was a presence that required nothing more of me than just to be. It was a calming, non-anxious presence, intrinsic to what scripture and tradition have testified about God, that was with me when the church was frightening and unreliable. Unfortunately, the language, analogies, and metaphors I use to describe that presence are clumsy and imprecise. Still, using the biblical witness, I can give words to the characteristics that made God’s presence actual and consequential.

The biblical witness testifies to God’s character through the stories and experiences of the people of Israel and the followers of Jesus. Love, liberation, and community flow from God’s will, promise, and character. They are the gifts I rely on now. I trust the power of love, liberation, and community. If I experience pain, loss, sadness, or despair, I trust that I will be held and supported by a community that loves me and provides me with a safe place to heal and recover. If and when I am sick, I know that a community that loves me and gathers around me will secure my well-being by responding to my needs. Whatever failure, disappointment, or vicissitudes of life befall me, I do not fear them. God’s presence means that love, liberation, and community will minister to me when I’m at my lowest. That’s the closest I can get to what God looks like, and I trust it. To be continued.