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Learning to trust in God

Boating to one of the Au Sable River’s rustic campsites is at the top of our summer’s to-do list.

We recently managed to squeeze an overnight getaway into our busy schedule. The weather was perfect: nicely warm with a gentle breeze.

With our tent erected and hammock strung near the water’s edge, we set out along the shoreline in our small boat. As usual, our dog, Lady, pushed her way to the bow to peer into the water and bark at her reflection. In the distance, a few kayakers glided smoothly by.

Gradually, we became aware of movement overhead. Looking up, we discovered not one, but three majestic bald eagles soaring above us. Captivated, we watched them circle, dip gracefully and rise again, all without a single wing flap. For over 15 minutes, they displayed their skill at catching the wind currents, lifting and then swooping across the blue expanse. Eventually they sailed toward the tree line and dropped out of sight.

What an amazing performance.

Eagles have large and powerful wings, but, instead of depleting their energy with continual flapping, they conserve it and rest on the wind. Isaiah 40:31 proclaims that “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.”

The eagle sighting reminded me of how I often expend myself by struggling in my own strength and limited understanding to solve life’s problems. I remember many times when I was convinced that I was absolutely right, only to later realize I was absolutely wrong.

Why is it so hard to trust God? For many, learning to trust Him can be a giant hurdle.

Studies show that a foundation of basic trust is established in the first few years of life. Our ability to trust is meant to gradually mature, allowing us to separate from our parents and transfer our trust to God’s guidance. That is a critical key in our relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, life isn’t perfect. When our capacity to trust is broken by people significant to us, we generally respond by building protective walls around our heart. As a result, instead of allowing ourselves to trust God, we place our trust in substitutes: our own understanding and intellect, our beauty and body, the approval and acceptance of others, our financial portfolio, accumulating the latest and greatest possessions — the list goes on.

If those uncertain things are what we derive our security from and place our hope in, we will eventually discover their fallibility.

To wait on the Lord is a type of faith, an inward action of expectantly reaching toward God and placing our hope in Him. It involves letting go and allowing Him to carry us, instead of relying on our own ability and strength. Rather than frantically flapping our wings, we gradually learn to release control of our circumstances, making room for Him to lift us to a higher and clearer perspective.

Learning to trust God can feel overwhelming at first, but it is something we can grow in and become better at as we come to know His true character.

Over the years, I have found relying on God’s timing and resting in His ways to be a great challenge.

Yet, in those times when I have felt alone, weighed down or depleted, He has proven over and over that He is constant. He never tires and is always willing to provide His guiding strength to those who learn to put their confidence in Him.

Michelle Smith serves alongside her husband, Gary, as part of the leadership team of New Life Christian Fellowship. She founded Purely Women Ministries with the purpose of helping women of all ages discover their true identity as women of God. A fifth generation Alpena native, she counts it a privilege to live in northern Michigan and enjoys flower gardening, canoeing, rustic camping and all things outdoors. She can be reached at church@newlifealpena.org.