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Relying On The Lord

As we enter 2022 I want to preach on relying on the Lord. We continue to live in uncertain times. The dark clouds haven’t disappeared. We don’t know where this pandemic is headed. We don’t know what area will be hit by drought or storm or fire next. We don’t know what financial markets will do. We can’t see what will happen to our democracy. We don’t know how the world is going to be rocked next. There are circumstances, relationships, and situations in our personal lives where we just don’t know what will happen or how we should respond.

These words from Isaiah have often been a great reminder to me. I have often gone to them when I am uncertain. Isaiah asks who fears the Lord and wants to obey yet finds themselves in darkness with no light? You can’t see your way.

Isaiah recognizes that sometimes we walk in darkness in that we can’t always see where we are going. We might not even be sure what we are to do. Every person who wants to walk with God will come to a time when they question the direction they are to take.

Isaiah gives this counsel: Trust in God and rely on the Lord! And we do this because our God can be relied upon.

There is a part in the story of Anne of Green Gables (I was told of this. I haven’t read the book. I am not that literate.) where Miss Cornelia, a staunch pillar of the Presbyterian church, inquired of one of her friends, Susan, about another woman’s health. Susan replied, “Oh, I’m afraid she’s going to have to rely on the Lord now.” “Oh no!” Miss Cornelia responded, “Surely it isn’t as bad as all that?”

Isaiah would say, it is as bad as that and that’s not a bad place to be. Sometimes I think God puts us in a place where we can’t see because he wants us to rely on him. “But Lord, its dark in here and I might crash.” And he says, “Take my hand. Let me take you.” “But Lord, I can’t see.” “Trust me.” The Lord wants us to learn to rely on him.

Do you feel like you are walking in darkness and have no light? Rely on the Lord.

Part of mature Christian faith is learning to cope when warm feelings, comfort and ease are not there. If our faith only happens when all is right then our faith is only like a drug. We only use it to make us feel better. But learning to trust in the dark times strengthens our faith and reliance on the Lord.

To rely on God is to put our weight on him, to lean on him, to be supported by him. We trust that he is guiding us and has his hand on us.

Isaiah says that the Sovereign Lord helps him. To call God the Sovereign Lord means the Lord is working out his purposes over and above everything. He is in control, even when we don’t feel it. When we are weak, God is our strength. When we are a mess, God is a rock. When we are uncertain, God has his hand upon us.

We keep God at the center of our lives. As you go through this year, whenever you face a situation, put the Lord before you. Let him drive. Give him the keys. This doesn’t mean we don’t do anything, but in what we do we seek God. Sometimes all you can do is just pray, ‘Lord, help me.” But even that is a way of relying on him.

Hebrews 11 tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Some Bibles read faith is “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.”[1]

“It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.”[2]

There is a lot in life that we do not see. We walk by faith. We do this believing God is present though he may not be evident in a particular moment.

We rely on the God who said he will never leave us nor forsake us. We rely in the Lord who works all things together for our good, even in disappointment. We rely in the Lord who we see in Jesus Christ, who was God in flesh and blood. We rely on God who brought life out of death through the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there are times it is really hard to see. We walk in darkness and have no light.

I have talked to pilots about what it is like to fly an airplane when fog or bad weather block out their visibility.

They say that there is really nothing such as zero-visibility because pilots have to be able to see the runway to land. But they need to be able to see it at 50-feet above ground, which is pretty much the least possible point before you know if you can land or not. It is estimated that in practically no-visibility situations, the pilot has six seconds to decide to either go back up or touch down.

Faith is involved, but it is faith in training and accurate instruments. And once a pilot does this many, many times, they realize they can trust in the aircraft without seeing where they are going.

One Delta pilot who I talked to and who had been flying for 40 years said that pilots have all had the experience of “feeling” like they are in a turn or spiraling down. But when they force themselves to believe what their instruments in the plane are telling them, then they can see that they are flying straight and level. The hardest part of learning to fly on instruments is having faith that the instruments are right, and that trying to fly by the “seat of the pants” and what a pilot feels is not right.

One of the hardest parts of the Christian life is learning to walk by faith, and not by the seat of our pants or what we feel is right.

One time a plane crashed costing the lives of many people. Authorities determined two factors caused this: bad weather and pilot error.

The investigative report said that the pilot was flying in heavy fog, and that when a pilot is flying in those conditions it is vital that he/she rely solely on the instruments. This is because without a visual point of reference a pilot’s senses can be easily fooled into thinking the plane is doing the exact opposite.

At times we get fooled into thinking God is against us or on vacation, yet he is leading us.

In this tragic plane crash the pilot was quite experienced but he was notorious among his colleagues for having one fatal flaw: he tended to rely predominantly on the feel of the plane and what he was seeing instead of trusting the guidance of his instruments. It cost him and many others.

Christians can do the same thing. Instead of having trust in our instruments of trust in God and our hope in him, we trust in our instincts and what we feel.

We feel like the outward is wasting away and is the ultimate reality. We feel that our troubles are more real than God. We feel like darkness is the ultimate reality. We feel like God has forgotten us. And it’s OK and natural to feel that at times. But we need to recalibrate so that our plane doesn’t crash.

This story about the pilot who crashed came from a book written by a Christian whose daughter became very ill and suffered her entire life with a very debilitating disease. Her father writes about learning to walk by faith amidst the momentary troubles his family faced in this present time and says there is a difference,

“between walking by faith and walking by feelings – trusting our instruments rather than our sight or instincts…In the fog of life our feelings will mock our faith and fairly scream at us that God has walked out on us, but our instruments will always reassure us that he is still there, walking right beside us.”[3]

Just like a pilot who has landed a plane in low visibility enough times to know he can count on the instruments, so when we live relying on God because we learn by experience that we can trust in Christ to bring us through.

Last week I quoted Corrie Ten Boom and I’m going to do it again this week. Corrie survived the Nazi concentration camps. Her faith survived as well. She said, “Faith is like a radar that sees through the fog – the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.”

2022 is here. I don’t know what is before us, but I know the Lord who is with us. Begin each day by meeting God. Pray. Read some Scripture. Do whatever gets your dashboard set. Offer him the things you are facing. Put your weight on him in reliant trust. He will guide us through the dark clouds and fog. He can be trusted. Let him be your support as you go through this year. We can fully rely on him.

Prayer: Gracious God, be our vision. Lead us in your paths. When doubts, fears, uncertainty overtake us take our hand and lead us by your light. Amen.

[1] New Revised Standard Version [2] The Living Bible [3]

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