A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing a woman named Lauren deliver the sermon at church. (Let’s just take a moment to celebrate the fact that women are finally making it out of the pews and into the pulpit. #abouttime) During the message, Lauren told her story of discovering that she was unable to fulfill her dream of having a baby, and how she learned to surrender her infertility to God and trust Him with her story.
I sobbed my way through the sermon, and afterwards, while debriefing with Luke on the drive home, I cried about just how hard it is to leave the writing of my own story up to God. My husband, that man of few but poignant words, responded: “Well, it’s not like you really have a choice.” Spoken like the true ISTJ, Enneagram 5 that he is. Leave it to Luke to effortlessly cut through all of the nuance and emotional distress and futile grumbling to wheedle out the obvious truth. We don’t have a choice.
Luke’s response rankled at first. How dare he take away my agency! But after getting over my shock at his audacious factuality (how is it that my husband’s unambiguous perspective still manages to surprise me after a decade together?), I realized he was right. It’s true that God gives us free will, but ultimately, the trajectory of our lives lies in His hands. He holds the power to lead us to the right job and ministry opportunities; He determines if and when we will have children; He places the right people in our lives at just the right times. The Lord numbers our days, He gives life and He can take it away. This is true, whether or not we trust Him. Our trust is a not a deciding factor in God’s story. The Creator of the Universe does not require my permission or even my trust in order to do His work. Harsh? Maybe. But true? Most definitely.
And still, our trust matters. Scripture is filled with commands for us to trust the Lord. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” This isn’t for the Lord’s sake; it’s His gift to us. Psalm 84:12 says that when we trust the Lord, we are blessed, and Romans 15:13 reminds us that when we place our trust in Christ, we overflow with hope. It’s clear that trust is not for the Lord’s benefit, but for ours.
Scripture also makes it clear that we have a choice; we are not required to trust God. We can resist His plans for our lives, kicking and screaming and hating every moment of the story He is writing. But the path of distrust is a desperate and lonely one, riddled with anxiety and leading to despair.
The alternative is to intentionally place our trust in the Lord, acknowledging that He is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it; that His way is the right way, even if it isn’t the way we want to go; and that His story is far greater than the one we would construct for ourselves. When we relax into His plans—graciously relinquishing the reigns rather than fuming with resentment as we fruitlessly attempt to navigate for ourselves—we are able to find joy and purpose in the journey, all the while knowing that we are headed toward the very best destination. Because God has assured us that His destination is the best. And time and again, He’s proven Himself to be a worthy navigator along the most optimal path.
When put that way, Trust begins to seem like the obvious choice. When we trust God with our story, we literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
In her video series She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl In You, Chrystal Evans Hurst says that “the journey to sanctification is just as important as where you will be one day in heaven. God delights in the details—He loves the steps—that will get you to the end result.” Those steps, those divine details, are the blessings. But we miss out on them when we stop trusting and become preoccupied with a story that wasn’t ours to write.
I recently heard Annie Downes comment on why fiction writers such as Madeleine L’Engle and C.S. Lewis make the most astute theologians. Annie postulates that “there’s a certain knowing of God that only comes through fighting your way through a story.” I agree that this is especially true for writers and theologians, but it is true for us, too: rewards abound when we join God in fighting our way through His story for us—not wrestling the story out of His hands, but paying attention to the story HE is writing and genuinely participating in it alongside Him. As co-creators in the authorship of our story, we come to a more profound understanding of God and His plans. Our eyes are opened to the bigger picture He is writing across eternity and we recognize that we’re a part of it. We play a small role, but it’s an important one that is our honor and privilege to hold.
Choosing to trust God is not a one-time decision. It’s a choice that we make every minute of every day. The future will remain unclear, but we rest in the assurance that it will be a bright one. Lauren, the woman who spoke at church, learned this firsthand. After grieving the news that she could not have children, Lauren made a decision to trust God, even when it hurt. That decision led Lauren and her husband to adopt two amazing little boys, fulfilling her deepest desires in a way that was equally unexpected and beautiful. And earlier this year, Lauren discovered that God’s story included even more blessings when she miraculously conceived a child of her own. I don’t doubt that this story could have had the same happy ending without Lauren’s choosing to trust God; but because of her faith, God has used her testimony to bless countless others. To trust or not to trust? I’d say she made the best decision.