This is the fifth and the final message in our series called Overwhelmed. And it’s been awesome to see how God has worked through this series. And we’re not done yet, because He’s got a Word for us today.
This series is based on a sermon series and a book written by Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. In fact, our Connect Groups have been reading the book as we’ve worked through this series.
Some of what you’ve heard in this series has been from Perry Noble. Some of it hasn’t been. It’s been kind of a mishmash, but God has blessed it. And we’re thankful to NewSpring for sharing the resources for this series with us.
I want to pray for us and then we’ll dive into the last message in this series.
Nicki and I lived in Indiana for about three years before we moved back to Ohio. We lived almost exactly halfway between Indianapolis and the Indiana/Illinois state line. It was kind of a weird mix between suburbia and a very rural area. It wasn’t far from towns where you could shop and eat and pretty much get anything you want. But it also had a ton of farm land. We drove daily on roads that weren’t even paved. And one day, I had a really scary experience on one of those roads.
It had been raining for weeks. We literally only had 2 or 3 dry days in the span of like 3 weeks. So there was a lot of localized flooding. And one of the roads that we drove on everyday was flooded. It was a little gravel road that ran beside a creek that was way above flood stage.
So there was a sign that said “Road Closed Due To High Water.” Now, to get around this flooded road took an extra 10 minutes. Well, one day I was in a hurry. I didn’t want to spend the extra time driving around this flooded road. And the weather had been sunny for a few days, so I figured the flood wasn’t as high as it had been. Plus, I was driving a 4 wheel drive. Now, it wasn’t a big, bad truck. It was a small SUV, but hey…4 wheel drive is 4 wheel drive. At least that’s what I thought.
So I stopped at the Road Closed sign. I had a decision to make. Was I going to trust this sign? This sign was trying to tell me to turn around. There was danger ahead. It was not going to be a wise decision to keep going. Was I going to trust the sign?
Or was I going to trust myself? I was in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. I was sure that the water wasn’t that high anymore. I knew what I was doing.
In that moment, I had to decide what I was going to trust. And I chose to trust myself. I ignored the sign. In fact, I shifted into 4 wheel drive and drove right around the sign and drove onto the flooded road.
At first, it was fine. I was plowing through the water like it was nothing. But the water kept getting deeper. And deeper. And deeper. I got to the point where the water was literally over the hood of my car. I could feel the water moving my car. My tires were losing contact with the road. The engine started to sputter because of the high water.
And oh, by the way, I didn’t tell you this part. I had a sleeping baby in the back seat. Ryan was only a few months old at the time, and he was asleep in the backseat. Some of you moms are like, “If you were my husband, I would have killed you!” It’s actually a testament to how awesome and forgiving my wife is that I’m even here to tell this story.
I’m telling you, in that moment when the water was ready to sweep my car off the road, I was completely overwhelmed. Sometimes I struggle with prayer. I know that sounds weird for a pastor, but I’ve told you that I will always be real with you. I will always be honest with you. Sometimes I struggle in my prayer life. This was not one of those times.
I knew exactly what to pray, and I prayed more passionately than I had ever prayed in my life. My prayer was simple. “God, please get us out of this! God, I am so stupid. And my stupidity has put my son and me in danger. God, I need you right now!”
I’ll be honest. My car should have been swept off the road. And who knows what would have happened then. It could have flipped over in the water. It was an incredibly dangerous situation, and there’s no way my little Kia Sportage should have made it through, but it did. And you’ll never convince me that God wasn’t the One who pulled my car through the water.
But in that moment, I was completely overwhelmed. And I was overwhelmed because I put my trust in the wrong thing. I should have trusted in that sign that told me the road was closed. I should have trusted in all the news reports I had seen that said never, ever drive on a flooded roadway. I should have trusted all the wisdom that had been exposed to.
But instead, I trusted myself. I trusted my abilities. I trusted my feelings. And I was completely overwhelmed because of it.
And a whole lot of us are experiencing that exact same thing in our lives. We’re overwhelmed, and the reason we’re overwhelmed is because we’ve chosen to trust something other than God. We’ve chosen to ignore God’s wisdom for our lives and do things our own way. We’ve chosen to listen to someone other than the Lord, and now we’re overwhelmed.
When we are overwhelmed in our lives, you can almost always trace it back to a choice to trust in the wrong things.
Listen to what Solomon wrote in the Old Testament book of Proverbs. He said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
This is one of the most famous passages in the entire Bible. If you’re not a Christian or if you didn’t grow up in the church, you may not have heard this. And that’s awesome, because this truth will be fresh to you.
But if you’ve known this Scripture for years, if you can quote it from memory, you might not really grasp everything it’s saying because it’s actually become too familiar. Let’s all look at this with fresh eyes. Let’s take a few minutes to really unpack this.
Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart.”
All. A-L-L. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart.
Here’s what that means. That means we’ve got to take every area of our lives and we’ve got to learn to put it at the feet of Jesus and trust Him with it.
Now that’s hard, isn’t it? That’s really, really hard. Anybody who says that is easy is either lying to you or their lying to themselves. It’s really, really hard to trust God with ALL your heart, with every area of your life.
It’s hard to trust God with a rebellious child. It’s hard to trust God with a jacked up past. It’s hard to trust God with a bad health report. It’s hard to trust God with a career that seems to be going nowhere. It’s hard to trust God with an addiction that you just can’t seem to break. It’s hard to trust God when there’s an area of your life that just isn’t working out the way you had planned.
It’s hard, but this is the key to living a life that overcomes instead of a life that is overwhelmed. It starts with trust. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart.
And then Solomon said, “And lean not on your own understanding.”
Trust God with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
What got me into trouble when I was driving on that flooded road? Why did I find myself in such an overwhelming situation? Because I trusted in my own understanding. That is exactly what led me into a completely overwhelming situation.
But that’s what a whole lot of us do. In the times when it’s difficult to trust God, most of us want to go with our gut. Have you ever heard that? Have you ever said that? “Just go with your gut.” Just go with how you feel.
That is some of the dumbest advice you could ever follow, because you’re trusting your feelings. And your feelings are absolutely unreliable. Feelings change. Feelings shift. Feelings are stupid. They really are. How you feel today is not how you’ll feel tomorrow.
How many of you are over 30? Think about this. Think about some of the decisions you made as a teenager. How many of you can remember a decision you made as a teenager that was stupid?
Seriously, all of us who are over 30 look back at our teenage years and we can see some really stupid decisions. But let’s be honest. We don’t have to go back that far, do we? We have plenty of stupid decisions that are more recent than that. Heck, some of us don’t have to look back any further than yesterday to see some really bad decisions.
Why did we make those decisions? It felt right at the time. That’s the only reason we did it. It felt right at the time. But now, when we look at it, we see how foolish it was. We see how harmful and destructive that decision was.
That’s why it’s so dangerous to trust our feelings. And it’s why Solomon says to trust God with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. Because our understanding is limited. Our understanding is imperfect. Our understanding is broken.
God is holy. God is perfect. God is ultimately wise.
And God is a good God who wants good things for His children. Some of us need to own that truth today. Maybe you need to own it for the very first time in your life.
Maybe you walked in here today thinking that God is mad at you. Or that God is punishing you. Or that God has left you.
You need to wrap your head and your heart and your soul around this truth. God is a good God who wants good things for His children.
That’s why we can trust Him with all our hearts, with everything in our lives. That’s why we can trust Him over our own feelings and thoughts and opinions. That’s why we can trust Him, even when we don’t feel like trusting Him. Even when it would feel better to go our own way or do our own thing.
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart.
Now, if you’re kicking against that, if you just don’t believe that, then here’s the question that you have to answer. Who are you going to trust? Everyone trusts something. If you’re not going to trust God, who will you trust?
Are you going to trust the government? Good luck with that. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. Is government really who you’re going to trust?
I don’t care who your presidential candidate is. Because everybody has their candidate. “My candidate is awesome. My candidate is going to be amazing. Your candidate is stupid. Your candidate would be a disaster. I just have to make sure that my candidate is elected and all will be right in the world.”
I’ve got news for you. No it won’t. There is not a person running who is going to be able to fix everything that is broken in our country and in our world.
Now, I’ve got my candidate. And if my candidate doesn’t receive the nomination, I’ve got another one that I would support. So I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about who leads our nation. Not at all. But I am absolutely saying that if you put your trust in government, prepare for massive, massive disappointment.
So if it’s not government, what’s it going to be? Are you going to put your trust in science? Good luck with that. Scientists can’t even decide if the world is warming up or cooling down. I can show you articles from respected scientists that argue both sides.
And again, I’m not anti-science. Not at all. But I am saying that the most brilliant scientist to every walk the face of the earth is still a peon compared to the knowledge and understanding of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.
So what are you going to trust? Pop culture? Good night. If pop culture is what you trust in, you are doomed. You are absolutely doomed. When you look at the lives of the people who always make headlines in pop culture, what do you see? The vast majority of the time you see immature, self-absorbed, desperate, broken people. And if that’s what you trust in, good luck.
Seriously, if you’re not accepting what we’re talking about today, you do have to answer this question. What are you going to trust? What are you going to anchor your soul to?
I choose to trust in Jesus. And if you don’t believe in Jesus, I understand. And I’m so glad that you’re here. I know that you might not be buying everything that you’re hearing today. But I’m just laying all my cards on the table. I choose to put my trust in Jesus.
And the reason is simple. There’s an empty tomb that the world can’t simply cannot explain. And anyone who can predict His own death and resurrection and then pull it off, I’m with Him. I’m going to trust that guy.
That’s what Solomon is calling us to. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
That word popped up again. All. In ALL your ways submit to Him. All your heart, all your ways.
“All your heart” means trusting God more than you trust your own feelings. “All your ways” means doing what God said to do, even if you feel like doing something else. That’s trust. And when we trust God like that, here’s the promise: He will make your paths straight.
That’s a promise of blessing. That’s a promise of peace. That means that we trust God to make it right. He may not make it right immediately, but He will make it right eventually.
But it comes back to that word. All. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. In ALL your ways submit to Him. All means all. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, but I want to be sure we’re all tracking with this today. All means all. All doesn’t mean everything, with the exception of this. All doesn’t mean most of my life, except for that. All means all.
So what is it for you? What is the one area of your life where you’re struggling to trust God? We all have different answers. What is it for you? What is the one area of your life where you’re struggling to trust God?
Maybe it’s your money. You’re having a real hard time trusting God with your money.
You know what God has said about money. You’ve heard me preach it. You know what Scripture says about things like tithing and generosity. But giving 10% of your income back to God is just a leap that you can’t make. You just can’t believe the promise that God can bless you when you are generous. You don’t believe the truth that you can’t outgive God. So you aren’t generous. You don’t tithe. And when you don’t live with generosity, you are guaranteeing that God can’t bless your finances.
When you are not generous, your finances become unblessable. God simply can’t bless selfishness. He can’t bless foolishness. And when we refuse to tithe, that’s usually why. We’re either selfish and we want to keep it all for us. Or we’re foolishness. We’ve ignored God’s wisdom for a long time and our finances are a disaster. But you can trace it back to the decision of trust. We decided not to trust God. We made our finances unblessable. And now we’re overwhelmed.
Or maybe for you, it’s your relationships. Maybe that’s the one area where you’re struggling to trust God.
Maybe you’re in a marriage that feels like it’s on life-support. And you’re convinced that your husband or your wife, they’re the problem. If God would just fix them, then everything would be fine. But maybe the person that God wants to fix is you. Maybe He wants to work in your life, so He can then work in your relationship. But you don’t want that because you’re not the one with the problem, right?
Or maybe you’re single and you’re desperate to be married. All your friends are married, and you’re thinking that it’s never going to happen for you. Ladies, this is especially dangerous territory for you. I heard Perry Noble say this, and it’s so true. Dating is the #1 area a single girl will compromise in. It’s true. I’ve seen it time and time and time again.
You compromise your standards. You compromise your convictions. You compromise your purity. All so you can hang on to a guy that won’t even commit to you. Who just wants to use you. And one day, you wake up and you’re either alone or you married the wrong guy and you’re incredibly lonely. There is something worse than being alone. It’s marrying the wrong person and being lonely. And it all happened because you didn’t trust God in your relationships.
We could go on and on and on, but you know what it is for you. What is the one area in your life where you’re not sure you can completely trust God?
Whatever it is, here’s the truth that we all have to own. If I don’t trust Him with all, I will eventually not trust Him at all. It’s true. If I don’t trust Him with all, I will eventually not trust Him at all. If we don’t trust Him with everything, we will eventually not trust Him with anything.
Here’s the way it usually plays out. There’s a part of my life is not working, probably because I didn’t trust God in that area of my life. That becomes my focus. Fixing that part of my life becomes my idol to worship. Everything revolves around this one area of my life. I simply don’t trust God in this area. That leads me to become more and more disconnected from Jesus. I become more and more disconnected from the church. I become more and more disconnected from Scripture. And on and on and on. My whole life just starts to spiral downward. And it all started with just one part of my life.
When we don’t trust God in one area of our lives, it will lead to not trusting Him in other areas. It will eventually take over our lives. If I don’t trust Him with all, I will eventually not trust Him at all. And everything in our lives just starts to fall apart. And then we get mad and we get bitter.
Listen to how Solomon said it in Proverbs 19. “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3, NLT)
Dang. Solomon just dropped the mic, didn’t he? This is so practical. This is so real. We ruin our lives with our foolish, selfish, stupid decisions. And then we get mad at God about it. Even though God put up all kinds of warning signs.
He sent people into our lives to give us wisdom, but we ignored it. He speaks through the preaching of the Word. You know how sometimes you think a preacher is speaking right to you? That’s the Holy Spirit at work. But we can still choose to ignore it.
God speaks to us in all kinds of ways. He gives us all kinds of warnings. He puts up the Road Closed sign, but we can still choose to drive into the flood.
We can choose to ignore God. We can choose not to trust God. And when you carry that decision to its inevitable conclusion, it’s really a decision to absolutely wreck our lives.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s anything but easy. Like we talked about a few minutes ago, it’s hard to trust God. It’s hard when things just aren’t working out like you planned. It’s hard when you just don’t know what God is doing. It’s hard when you’re dealing with hurt and discouragement and disappointment.
But Lysa TerKeurst nailed it. She said, “Sometimes our greatest disappointments today will set us up for God’s greatest appointments tomorrow.”
We don’t have to understand what God is doing right now to trust Him. You can trust God with your tomorrow even if you don’t understand what He’s doing today.
In other words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
Understanding is not a prerequisite for trust. In fact, trusting God requires that we DON’T lean on our own understanding. It’s about trusting that God has something higher, something better, something greater in mind for us than what we have in mind for ourselves.
“But you don’t understand. I have trusted God, and things still seem to be falling apart.”
I get that. Believe me. I get that.
But there was a preacher in the 1800s named Charles Spurgeon who said, “God always begins to work in a way that looks like undoing and not doing.”
When God is working in your life, it can feel like things are falling apart instead of coming together. It feels like undoing, not doing. But we can’t see past this moment. We have no idea what God is ultimately going to do in our lives.
And there’s no better example of that than the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death. And what did His followers do? They ran. They fled. They went into hiding. They were disappointed and disillusioned because everything they had put their faith in seemed to be coming undone. They had put their faith and trust in Jesus, and now He was hanging on a cross. And in that culture, dying by crucifixion was the ultimate symbol of failure and disgrace.
Everything they had believed, everything that they had trusted, everything that they had hoped for was all coming undone. All they could see was the undoing, but they didn’t realize what God was actually doing.
They didn’t realize that, through His death on the cross, Jesus would pay the price for the sin of the entire world. And that means the price for your sin and my sin has been paid in full. We can be forgiven. We can be free. But they couldn’t see that at the time.
And they didn’t realize that three days later, Jesus was going to rise to life again. His resurrection to life means that we can have a new life. What we see now is not the end of our story. If Jesus can defeat death, then He can certainly handle whatever we’re facing in life.
All Jesus’ disciples could see was the undoing. They couldn’t see what God was actually doing.
And sometimes that’s all we can see, too. All we can see is the hurt. The disappointment. The loss. The never-ending struggle. The pain. All we see is the undoing. But Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that God is always doing more than we realize. And if we trust Him…even when it’s not easy…even when it doesn’t make sense…we will eventually see what God is actually doing in our lives.
God is a good God who wants good things for His children. He can be trusted. God wouldn’t give up His own Son for you, just to later give up on you. He hasn’t left you. He loves you. He died for you.
One more Spurgeon quote. Charles Spurgeon said, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”
You know what’s in God’s heart? You are. His heart beats for you. He loved you enough to die for you. I know you may not understand what is happening right now. I know how hard it is to trust God when things just aren’t adding up, when you don’t know what God is doing. But when you can’t trace His hand, you can always trust His heart.