“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Do you remember that song? If you’re like me it brings back memories from somewhere in your childhood being taught it or hearing it sung. If you’re even more like me, you didn’t much like that song. It’s too hokey, too… simple? I think for a long time I assumed it was another one of those cute songs that religious people get their kids to sing because it’s an easy way to try and brainwash them into obeying and not causing problems.
Along with being the Operations Manager for Emmanuel’s Wish Foundation in South Africa, I have a few other roles, just like everyone else: father, husband, friend, and occasional worship leader at the local church that has adopted us during our time away from Canada. While trying to pick out some songs that would support the message one week, Trust and Obey made its way to my mind. I dismissed it, but it came back and I eventually gave in to at least looking up the rest of the words.
“When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.”
Yeah, I remembered that part. God is with us as we walk with Him. That’s good, but that word “glory” still reverberates funny with me. I kept reading.
“But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favour He shows, for the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey.
I didn’t remember this verse and I had to stop a minute to think about it. In fact, there was something in it that really struck a chord (pun intended). We cannot prove the delights of His love until we lay it all on the altar. Put another way, we won’t really know how great it is to be upheld by God’s love until we let go of what we want and surrender our will to Him and really let Him be Lord and direct us. I’ve had a similar thought before. Could it be that part of the reason we so often wonder where God is and why He doesn’t seem to do much in our lives is because we are trying to control everything? Rather than simply obeying we come up with excuses and reasons why it’s not wise, or not the right time.
How often do we miss out on the “delights of His love” because we are unwilling to just trust and obey what He’s telling us?
When Trish and I felt God was telling us to take a leave from my work, raise support, and move to South Africa for 18 months we were nervous. Sure, the idea of a change and adventure was exciting, but there are a lot of practical challenges in moving a family of five to another continent for over a year. Asking other people for money is humbling. The South African visa process can be extremely frustrating. And most people wanted to know if it was safe. So did we.
Trust and obey. I wasn’t humming that chorus at the time but we were trying to live it out. So once we felt confident it wasn’t just our own crazy idea we decided to trust all the parts we couldn’t control to the One who can and started doing our part in going.
Now we are almost ready to come home. Was it all favour and joy? No. Certainly not. Some of our most stressful and challenging times have happened while we were here. But there was favour. And there was joy. And we saw God working in us and others in ways we haven’t seen as clearly before. Are we glad we came? Yes, very.
“Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.”
Another great verse, especially the second half. That’s a motto I want to live by, even though I’ve messed up on it plenty of times. There were times God told me to go and I made excuses and stayed. There were also times when I believe God wanted me to stay but I made excuses and went. In coming to South Africa we listened and obeyed. I want to keep doing that, even though I know I’ll still mess it up. Even during our time here there are “smaller” things that God has said that I haven’t done. Obeying once doesn’t make you perfect – it usually just helps show you how much less than perfect you really are!
So I’ve been won over to this old song. And I’m teaching it to my kids. Not because I want them to obey my every command (though I would, believe me I would!) but because it’s got the kind of depth that’s helped it to last from 1887. A depth I didn’t appreciate until just recently. I read that the inspiration for the song came from the testimony of a man who said “I am not quite sure, but I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey.” I love the humility in that. No of us knows perfectly, and we never will. But there are simply truths God has spelt out for us in His word and times when He speaks to us. Our job is to trust Him and obey.
What about you? What’s God telling you to do? Does he want you to go? To stay? To give? To speak? Are you making excuses? If you belong to Him then I guarantee that He’s telling you something. There’s always an adventure of faith He wants you to go on. It could be in your neighbourhood. It could be in your own family. It could even be in South America!
If you thought I was going to say South Africa, you’re right. I was. It could be there too.
So listen to what God is telling you. Often we already know and just don’t really want to admit it or think about it too hard. Then decide to trust and choose to obey. It’s worth it. And it’s the only way to really be happy.
From grace to umusa,