In order to rest, to find peace, to experience far more life we need to trust God. But to trust God we need to know Him. How do we get to know God? Just like we get to know people: spending time together; learning about His character; seeing Him in action; talking to Him; and listening to His words.
The Israelites of the Old Testament faced a similar challenge. While they lived in Egypt, many had adopted the local culture and religion; they worshipped multiple gods who had many of the same faults as humans. During their rescue the Israelites saw God’s powerful miracles. He caused plagues to fall on the Egyptians but not them. He parted the Red Sea and allowed them to pass through on dry ground. He provided water in the wilderness and rained manna from heaven to feed them. He even provided meat when they complained. Despite seeing God in action, they did not know His character well enough to fully trust Him. So when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments He also revealed and described Himself:
Then the Lord passed by in front of [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:5-7, NASB)
What a list! Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in lovingkindness. Abounding in truth. Forgiving premeditated sin, willful disobedience, and simple failure to do the right thing. Punishing the guilty but allowing consequences of sin to impact future generations. We have the benefit of being able to read the Bible, which is filled with accounts of God demonstrating these qualities as humans follow, ignore, and outright rebel against Him. Our trust for God grows as we get to know Him by reading the consistency of His actions throughout history.
The New Testament reveals another aspect of God’s character: His sacrificial love for humankind.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (I John 4:9-10, NIV)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
I don’t know about you, but there are few people I love enough to die for. There are fewer for whom I would ask my children to die. Yet this is the love God has for us: He sent His son to die for us when we didn’t even care about Him. This is mind-blowing!
And His love doesn’t stop there. He also gives us far more life.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, NIV)
I think one of the problems we face in knowing and trusting God is not recognizing what He has given us. What if every sunrise spelled out, “I, God, gave you this day and all that you need to thrive in it” across the sky? What if “Provided by God” was stamped on every food we ate? What if every good thing that happened came with a note explaining, “I did this for you. Love, God”? What if every tear we cried proclaimed, “I, God, love you and promise to bring good from this hurt”? What if every sunset announced, “You are one day closer to joining Me in Heaven, permanently removed from the hurts and evil of this world”? What if He responded to our prayers by saying, “Here is My answer for you”?
His reminders aren’t as blatant as my examples, but they exist. God is not invisible or hiding from us. He wants us to know him.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)
Evidence of God is everywhere! He created the largest galaxy and the smallest atom. The simplest bacteria and the complex human brain. He created the strong nuclear force and the gentlest love. Every beautiful thing. Every natural phenomenon. Every kind of plant and animal. He put into motion every system and process human scientists have discovered — as well as those they have not yet discovered. He did all this and more so we could know Him! He has given us ample evidence that He alone is worthy of our trust.
A friend coined the term “love gifts” to describe the times she sees evidence of God’s love for her. Maybe it’s an especially beautiful sunset she gets to witness at the end of a hard day. Or an unexpected note from a friend sharing just the verse she needed to hear. Or an answer to prayer about a situation that was weighing her down. These “love gifts” remind her that God is present and active in her life. That He is good. That He loves her. They help her know and trust Him more. They show her far more life. We, too, see far more life as we look for God’s love gifts and grow in knowing and trusting Him.
Do you trust God enough to experience far more life?
Do you regularly spend time with God to grow your trust?
What aspects of God’s character have you witnessed firsthand?
How have you seen His invisible qualities in creation?
Be on the lookout for His “love gifts” this week and thank Him for each one you find.
Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso