A college friend of mine watched every episode of Marcus Welby, M. D. (the TV series about a small town, family doctor), and my friend wanted nothing more than to be a like-minded, caring, personal physician.
My friend aggressively pursued his pre-med studies, but he also countered the competitive culture of his program by tutoring other pre-med students. His life verse was, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord” (Jer. 17:7). He said he didn’t want to grind through med-school simply by his own hard work. He wanted to “trust in the Lord.”
He and I graduated in 1979 (back around the time the flush toilet was invented). He went off to med-school and I went off to the mission field.
I saw him next three years later. He had dropped out of med-school after a prolonged, unknown illness (probably Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), and he struggled to pay his mounting bills, not to mention finding a job with any sense of personal fulfillment.
He had also rejected Christianity. He said, “I trusted in the Lord, and look what it got me, illness, exhaustion, humiliation, and grunt work. Not exactly the Promised Land.”
What Do We Trust?
It’s easy to deceive ourselves by “trusting in the Lord.” It is a command of God, but if we “trust in the Lord” mainly to get us through medical school, then our real trust rests in the letters “M. D.” after our name. We simply use God to get what we most trust in.
We say, “If I were a doctor, I’d be happy. And I’d serve the Lord.” God becomes a means to get what we really think will save us from a humdrum life: the prestige of that title.
The heart of Christianity is salvation. But modern Christianity has skinnied-down that “salvation” to a bread and water diet of life after death. Of course, it does mean that, but it means much more. It’s an abundant life today as well. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
My med-school-friend also skinnied-down his life verse. He only remembered the first half. The entire verse reads:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
whose trust IS the Lord. (Jer. 17:7)
Biblical trust in the Lord rests not in using God to get what we most want. It is fulfilled when we discover that God alone is what we most need. Knowing him is our salvation. Not titles, missions, success, or financial peace.
Maybe It’s More of an Invitation
God commands and encourages us to trust in him. But maybe it’s more of an invitation.
I’ve been reading about Habakkuk’s pain in the face of life-ending adversity. He asks God, “Why?” While God never answers the prophet’s question, God finally does speak to him. And Hababbuk closes his short book with this:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab. 3:17-18)
Habakkuk doesn’t get his M. D., but he gets God, and his heart melts. He says he will be fine if his fruit trees are barren, his barns empty, and if he is sick, gets laid off, or loses his retirement savings.
While I have not arrived at this place of beauty, I sense God inviting me into such a knowledge of him that “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”
P. S. For many believers, our spiritual lives also seem unsatisfying. We ask, “Is this all there is?” God says that true, abundant, fulfilling life can be found: It is simply in knowing Him (John 17:3).
That overflowing, rich life is found in hearing Him. To nurture that conversational relationship with your Father, I suggest you read Hearing God in Conversation.
This week, the Kindle price is reduced to $2.99 and the print reduced to $12.74. Buy now and watch the video below.