Heidi Jo Fulk | God
The first time I heard my husband’s name was in the sixth grade. Actually, I saw it. We had the same language arts teacher, who posted the top ten students from all his classes on the classroom wall each marking period. I was in first place once, but the next time the list was posted, some kid named Dan Fulk had taken over my first place position! After checking around, I found out who he was and actually became friends with the guy. Then a few years later, love blossomed out of that seed of friendly competition.
Our now twenty years of marriage had a starting point: knowing each other. Before we could love and trust each other, and then build a relationship and a family together, we first had to know the other one existed. Jen Wilkin’s well-known quotation applies here: “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” It’s true for human relationships, and it’s true for our relationship with God. We have to know God exists—which we can discover through His creation and His Word—and then we can respond with belief, love, and trust through the power of the Holy Spirit. The amazing part is that responding to God isn’t a one-time event. The more we know about God and His love and trustworthiness, the more we can respond to Him with love and trust.
So what does that look like in the everyday circumstances of life? Especially in difficult circumstances?
We can look to Christ for the best example, and His example begins with a fierce focus on the Father’s glory and will. We get a description of that focus and His responses in the prophetic words of Isaiah 50:4–10.
Dependence on the Father’s Wisdom
First we see a total, ongoing dependence on the Father in verses 4 and 5:
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; He awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
With that dependence and focus, Jesus demonstrates that we can have understanding for ourselves, as well as know what to say to others in need directly from the Lord God (v. 4).
Is your focus and dependence like Christ’s?
Obedience to the Father’s Will
That focus is further lived out in verse 5 by shunning rebellion and following God instead.
The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.
We, like Christ, can respond by following God’s way and not our own as we focus on and listen to Him.
Do you follow the Lord like Christ?
Trust in the Father’s Care
Then difficult circumstances come. Pain and suffering beyond our comprehension in verse 6 and Christ’s focus and the perspective that results in verses 6 and 7:
I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
Despite physical torture and humiliation, Jesus explains that those unbelievably difficult circumstances did not bring Him disgrace or shame. Why? Because His face was set like a flint. His trust in the Father’s care and purpose was so sure, He was able to see what was happening to Him through His Father’s eyes.
Is your focus and trust like Christ’s?
Confidence in the Father’s Character
The end of this passage—verses 8 through 10—is similar to some psalms of David with a series of statements and questions to affirm belief and trust:
He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
Do you see the results of the nearness of God? Can you hear the confidence in God’s character in the midst of impending death? Do you see all of that is available not only to Jesus the Son, but to you if you “trust in the name of the Lord”?
Do you trust Him?
Make This Your Goal: Know Him to Love Him
Oh woman of God, when you know and love the Lord your God, your trust can be that certain! As you deepen your knowledge of God, your responses of love and trust will increase as well. As you know Him more and respond to what you learn and understand, you will be made more into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
So how can you know Him more? Through intentional, consistent time in His Word and with His people. There are all sorts of ways to pursue that kind of time, but this post is not meant to be a complete how-to guide for that goal. Instead, I want to spur you on to make that goal. Greater still, I urge you to fix your eyes on God, knowing that whatever circumstances may come, you can still find His glory and the hope He offers you as you respond with love, trust, and obedience. You can learn about that hope in passages like Psalm 3, Isaiah 40, Romans 8, Galatians 6, 2 Corinthians 4, and Hebrews 11. Obedience, love, and trust will be enabled by the knowledge you’ll gain through passages like these and by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:10–11).
As you know more about His love, you will be more likely to respond with love. As you know more about His trustworthy ways, you will be more likely to respond with trust. So as you know, love, and trust Him more, your perspective of circumstances will be more like Christ’s perspective, much like the one described in Isaiah 50:4–10. The steps through those circumstances will likely be difficult and painful, but you will see more clearly the ultimate purpose and hope of God through those steps.
Thirty years ago, I saw a boy’s name on a wall. Today, through all kinds of seasons and circumstances, we are still pursuing knowing, loving, and trusting each other as we pursue knowing, loving, and trusting our Savior. Our focus is God’s glory; our hope is in Him alone. Will you make God and His glory your focus? Will you pursue knowledge of Him through His Word and His people so that you might respond like Christ? If so, let that last verse guide you: “Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God”(Isa. 50:10).