I have been thinking about this a lot lately as our journey to wholeness continues to take longer than Jettie and I had hoped. There are, of course, many answers to this question, but I want to focus on one that I believe is our adversary's "first choice" of weapons, the one he used at the beginning to entice our ancestors away from their childlike trust in God: "Did God really say?" As you may know, this is the first question that the serpent asked Eve in his successful attempt to shift our first parents' trust from God to themselves. (Note that it was really a transfer of trust first to the serpent, but that's another topic).
It seems to me that most of my journeys away from trust somehow involve some level of questioning what God has said, either in His written word or through His Spirit. The thought seems to creep in that I really didn't hear Him or that I don't really understand it, etc. What is so sneaky about this question is that it's effective not because of the question itself but because it subtly shifts my focus away from God. Suddenly I am now "in charge" and I am making judgments, etc., about things that are way beyond my ability to handle. Even worse, I am now looking at the world and circumstances in a way that is essentially the same as an atheist! I am now left basically acting as if I were on my own, analyzing, deciding, etc., on the basis of my very limited human ability to perceive and reason. Yikes--this is scary just thinking about it!
Even more sneaky is the subtle way this question causes me to doubt God's character. Can God be trusted to communicate with me in a way that I understand? Or am I somehow so defective that even God can't or won't get through to me? Such thinking ultimately is a question about God and His nature, not about me, since it calls into question His goodness, His love, etc.
So what's the solution when we begin to hear 'Did God really say?' in our minds? For me it helps to review and remember what God has for sure said. As I have grown older I have deposited more and more Scripture into my memory (at His leading, not my deciding). This memory deposit gives God the opportunity to "repeat Himself" often when things are shaky or unclear to me. I also keep a journal of things God has clearly said (very often confirmed by others), and it helps to review those things often. These two things help me to answer my adversary or my own mind with the words, "Yes, God has said" and/or "No, God didn't say..."
A second thing that helps me is to remember that hearing Him is more about His ability to communicate with those He loves than about our ability to hear Him. There's a great conversation about this in So You Don't Want to Go To Church Anymore. In response to the question, "Do you really believe we are good enough to hear God every day?" The main character, John, says, “Of course not. None of us are that good. But I think you’re asking the wrong question. Let’s phrase it like this: Is Jesus big enough to get through to you every day? Do you think he is big enough to get past your blind spots, overcome your doubts and show you his way? Doesn’t that get a resounding ‘yes’?"
Finally, I have found that simply returning to Him in my heart, however long it takes for me to get there, so that I am focusing on His character, helps perhaps more than anything. As Graham Cooke often says, we cannot put our trust in what God is doing in the moment (because we couldn't possibly understand it), but we can also put our trust in His character--who He is. And I find that turning to Him in childlike, surrendered waiting, always brings His presence and reminders of His goodness.
Is it easy to trust Him? I haven't found that to be the case. We have had way too much practice at trusting ourselves for it to be easy to trust Him (and there are adversaries who oppose this). But since God loves us and wants us to trust Him, He will persist in inviting us to do so, "shouting in our pain" as C.S. Lewis said, and repeating Himself often.
Learning to trust...
Tom, one of Abba's children