Learning to Trust

By Clark Tanner

Do you have a life verse? Almost 30 years ago I was challenged to find one. I can remember the location perfectly.

My wife and I had been invited by several people from our church to attend a weeklong gathering at the Navigator’s Conference Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During one of the morning sessions, a speaker challenged us about having a life verse from the Bible. Then, in our small group discussion, people kept talking about their life verses and how meaningful they were. I remember thinking, I just need to know the Bible—why a life verse?

After 30 years of ministry and “doing life,” I now know why I needed one. Every person needs to have a verse or passage that leaps to mind in a crisis situation!

Proverbs 3:5 and 6 has been my anchor: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I have quoted Proverbs 3:5, 6 more times than I can remember. I’ve repeated the words on mission trips. I’ve recited them to myself, alone during the dark hours of the night. I’ve quoted the verses to a loved one in the hospital, while preparing a message for Sunday morning, at a graveside, and when I have talked with couples who are about to get a divorce.

Most recently I have been living Proverbs 3:5 and 6 because my wife and I just concluded a 25-year ministry. After so many years in the same location, I found myself asking, OK, Lord, do you really know what you are doing? Again it was back to trusting in the Lord with all my heart.

My life has been a faith walk but, after 25 years in one place, I didn’t completely realize how invested we were in the community, the culture, the home we had built, and the church family and friends we had come to know and love. The emotional and relational connections went deeper than we realized.

I would love to tell you this new season of trust has been easy. However, there have been times when my “trust meter” was closer to empty than full. Trusting God isn’t always easy because it literally goes against our human nature. To trust God means we must admit we are not in charge of our lives. We don’t know what is ahead and we feel helpless and alone.

I’ve had to remember that even when life is uncertain and I feel like I can’t go on, God still wants me to trust him. The Bible is filled with examples of people who were uncertain about life, but who continued to trust. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1). For me, trusting in God means I believe he will work on my behalf to bring about his perfect plan.

Today, I’m senior pastor at Countryside Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas, and enjoying every minute of my new ministry. I never thought I would return to Kansas, my home state, but I can see now that only God could have arranged this ministry at this season of my life.

I’m so thankful that life is never beyond God. When I didn’t know what to do, I just kept trusting in him and remembering Proverbs 3:5 and 6. How grateful I am today for the Colorado Springs experience that led me to my life verse.

Clark Tanner is senior pastor with Countryside Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas, and serves on Standard Publishing’s Publishing Committee.

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