Human strength - how do we measure it? If you were at the gym right now, you might go over to the area where men and women are busy lifting weights. Some will squat ever so carefully, assuming the position of "readiness" to the "big lift", then grabbing tightly to that weight, will fling it over their heads, hold steady for a moment and proceed to drop it to the ground after sufficient time has elapsed. Other will be bench pressing weights way outside of their normal "capacity" for lifting weights, and others will be leg pressing still more weight. Yep, they all look strong and show magnificent ability to lift or press weight beyond their normal limits, but is that real strength? Others may measure strength in the response one has to life's challenges. Maybe these are the individuals able to stand up under pressures which seem to be astronomical, such as fighting fires when temperatures soar into the unhealthy ranges, or rescue people from devastatingly awful crashes without fear of their own lives in the process. It could be they are working the floors of the never quiet, always crazy stock exchange, keeping every detail in mind and never missing a beat. Human strength is measured in what we can do, how it is we hold up under pressure, or what it is we are able to juggle in the course of a day. God doesn't want us dependent upon human strength - he calls us to trust in his strength. Why? I believe it is because of our tendency to stray when we lean into our human strength over trusting him.
Cursed is the one who trusts in human strength and the abilities of mere mortals. His very heart strays from the Eternal. He is like a little shrub in the desert that never grows; he will see no good thing come his way. He will live in a desert wasteland, a barren land of salt where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in Me alone; the Eternal will be his confidence. He is like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots beside the stream. It does not fear the heat or even drought. Its leaves stay green and its fruit is dependable, no matter what it faces. (Jeremiah 17:5-8 VOICE)
Scripture could not be clearer - human strength and abilities of mere mortals is just not something we want to put our trust in. Our natural response to being able to "do things ourselves" is that of our heart slowly, but surely drifting away from God. More importantly, this misplaced trust is what "stunts our growth", my friends. If you didn't realize it, read the passage again. The one who counts upon human effort, ability, or talent to accomplish life's challenges will eventually come to the realization they are "stunted" in their growth - for nothing stretches one to fuller capacity than putting your trust in something outside of yourself! If you have ever done one of those exercises where you have to fall backward into someone's arms, "trusting" they will catch you and be able to hold you up without fully making contact with the ground, then you understand how hard it is to let go and just fall into those arms. It isn't easy - because we have come to count on our own two legs to hold us up and if the ground isn't shaking too badly, why would we risk falling - right? The real essence of that question is the truth that we aren't about to trust anything or anyone outside of our own selves until the "ground is shaking too badly" for us to remain upright on our own! Have to ask - how's that been working for you? It didn't work so well for me whenever I have tried it!
So much of life's challenges could be settled in rather short order if we could finally and firmly settle this question of trust. Most of the decisions we make in life all have a basis in trust - what or who we will trust "in", "with", or "over". We trust "in" certain things - like the electrical current flowing through the wires when we flip the light switch. We trust ourselves or others "with" things or truths. We trust one person or thing "over" another based on some form of reasoning in our minds, or feeling in our inner man. Having any wrongly placed trust is simply going to wreak havoc in our lives - plain and simple. We will come to the place of realizing the things or people we trusted "in" to be continuous and never-ending are all fallible. We will recognize that others might not treat the things we give to them (including our heart and emotions) in quite the way we had hoped they would. We might even note the one thing we choose over something else, placing all hope in that one thing to do or be whatever we are counting on is just not going to measure up to the hope we placed in it.
When your trust is rightly placed, the outcome is different. Trust is best placed in that which is the "most reliable" and "consistently strong". If you believe the paper towel commercials, the lumberjack man paper towel brand is the one for every household. Sorry folks - but I buy the generic from the big box store and it works as well as paper towel is supposed to work for a fraction of the cost! The paper towel wipes up the spill, acts as a napkin in a pinch, and is disposable when the mess would otherwise stain a nice kitchen washcloth! Were all of life as simple as choosing the right paper towel! We "mere humans" struggle with this "trust thing" so much because we don't like "uncertainty" in life. We want control and truth be told, control is the basis of all issues with trust. Letting anyone or anything outside of our control for even a few moments can be so hard when we have counted on our own efforts or abilities as the basis upon which we will build our trust. Until the issues with trust are faced squarely and definitively, we will know nothing more than stunted growth in our lives. Yes, we will grow a little here and there, but to know fully vibrant and flourishing growth in our lives - we have to get outside of trusting in the wrong stuff, people, or even self.
Trust is reliance. It is confidence "in" something or someone. The bush growing in the desert counts on nothing more than infrequent watering and harsh winds. I sure wouldn't want to live life that way only to end up a tumbling weed in a dust storm! The tree planted on the rich banks of the river has broad roots, strong boughs, and a sheltering growth which bespeaks where it finds the source of its life. The source is outside of itself - in the richness of where it is planted. I don't know about you, but trusting on the consistency of the river's flow is much more appealing to me than the occasional rain of the desert storm! Just sayin!