Taking the idea that Jesus is the Only Head of His called together assembly seriously opens ministry life a whole new world of adventure! Every next level step Ruthanne and I take in the journey faces us with the “I don’t know how to do this” dilemma of kingdom dynamics. We learn that experience in kingdom leadership prepares us to surrender; experience teaches us that experience doesn’t prepare us to understand as much as it prepares us to stop depending upon what we understand! Experience teaches us trust. Deeper experiences teach us deeper trust. Through deeper trust we learn more nearly complete obedience.
“Jesus as the Only Head” means little unless we acknowledge Him in all our ways. This acknowledging challenges the Body of Christ at this moment in history. Our limiting factor: “do not depend on your own understanding.” God’s limitations eliminator: “acknowledge Him in all your behavior.”
After literally being in ministry all our lives, the last thing we would say right now would be: “We know how to do this.” That would be trusting our own understanding. After receiving clear prophetic revelation, the last thing we would say would be: “Now we understand enough about His understanding to do this.” That would be trusting our understanding of His understanding.
We have faced the daunting challenge of friends in ministry presenting us with “we know how to do this” and the “or else” that comes with that fleshly premise of leadership. We have faced the more insistent challenge of prophetic friends who “heard God on the matter” and the resulting “you just won’t listen” that unproven premise produces. So, through experience you learn who to trust and how much to trust them! we still trust enough to get hurt by human expectations but trust God enough to not lean on human understanding or human understanding of His understanding.
Immediately we receive revelation, we tarry for strategy. Trusting with all our hearts opens our behavior to wisdom. Knowing right is a long way from doing right. Understanding His understanding is a long way from acknowledging Him in all our ways. A revelation of the finished product is a million miles from the strategy needed before we drive the first nail or lay the first foundation stone.
So, here I am, called away to solitude, listening for God’s wisdom, and He points me to Proverbs 3. I feel like I’m back in Sunday School until He opens my heart.
Today, I ponder the oft-quoted Scripture, painted on a placard, reflected from the refrigerator, bumper-stuck to the car: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend upon your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
No problem with the “Trust in the Lord” part, but I ponder the “with all your heart” part. Since the next phrase tells me to not depend upon or put my trust in my own understanding, the first phrase tells me “all my heart” trust and dependency upon my own understanding are incompatible. The “all my heart” speed bump barrier to rapid progress, the real-life tension of human trust meeting Divine love.
I do the “almost” really well, but the “all” part is tougher. Not impossible. Tougher. As I often say, “The ultimate strength of will is the strength of will to surrender.” We don’t know the deep of “trust” until we learn the “all” of obedient surrender.
In Level 3 of FreedomMinistry – Serving Leaders – our first lesson for leadership is obedience without limits. While we learn something about obedience through people God puts in our lives, we don’t learn ultimate surrender from any of our earthly relationships.
Children learn to measure their trust of parents, challenging the limitations parents place on their lives to test the security of their leadership. Spouses learn to limit trust with their mates – “women with the credit card at the mall” syndrome – or to be more accurate – “I can’t send that man to the store without a very specific list’ syndrome. We trust people but not without healthy limitations, because they are imperfect. Trust can not be ultimate with people no matter how high we reach through covenant. If nothing else, humans we attempt to trust totally may simply forget something vital and limi
But not so with God! The “almost” needs to whither and die in our covenant with Him. Our covenant with God does not depend upon human imperfection. The relationship does not face the limiting factors of fleshly weakness. Only here can “trust with all your heart” be possible.
We learn obedience by means of passion-infused experience; we learn deeper trust with God through “the trial of our faith.” We prove God, prove God’s will, and we ‘prove all things,” whether they are God or not. Proving people sets healthy limits on our trust with them, but proving with respect to God helps to shrink and eliminate the “almost.”
The Stagger of Almost
‘Almost’ all your heart trust in God produces a spiritual limp. We cannot get into a regular rhythm, our pace motioned on the margin, metronomed by another beat. Spiritual trust and spiritual momentum function in tandem. We go as fast and far as the “almost” allows.
While most of us believe we stagger at the “all,” we stagger mostly because of the “almost.” We are not staggering from the demand of “all.” God isn’t asking too much. This is the stagger of unbelief. Without the “almost” we move all along at God’s pace.
We see “all” as a big burden. “Almost” puts us close to the ground and causes our feet to stumble. Impossible to move with bold clarity with the burden of “almost” on our backs, so we lower eyes to the path thinking, “I better be the one looking out for myself here.”
Yet, the phrasing of the Proverb is that “all your heart” trust allows God to direct your path, make your way open, flat, and plain. You cannot get to plain paths when you insist upon trusting in yourself.
I am especially challenged by “all” after I get God’s understanding, make His understanding part of my understanding, and then proceed with my understanding of His understanding! How often do I “hear God’s voice” on the matter and then proceed with the path as if hearing Him speak finally makes me the leader? Hearing is the first step of trust, not the “ready, set, go!” of permission to live in the tyranny of “almost” because I have a revelation of His understanding.
Ultimate trust is “he went out not knowing where he was going.” Ultimate trust is waiting until it is too late for your Isaac, and still living as if the baby is coming. “Almost” demands that God do the thing while the doing makes more sense, not waiting until the factories are shut down to start the creative process. Abraham and Sarah received the promise when they were as good as dead! “ROLF!” is what Sarah texted Abraham on that subject.
First all trust, then all ways. Until I trust God with all my heart I cannot acknowledge Him in all my ways. Behavior begins with habits of the heart. Trust sees the tight wire under my feet, not the ground a hundred feet below. Without the all of heart trust, I will work myself silly to find a “sure thing” safety net before I take one step across the divide. Without “all” trust, I design a better balance bar, a new pair of shoes, waste years practicing six inches above ground where no trust is needed at all..
Prophetic people often miss this bedrock of faith because they err toward thinking that since God has given revelation they are more “on their own” than other people. This basic issue of pride has nothing to do with the level of revelation they are receiving but with the ultimate issue of trust. Prophetic revelation as “sure thing” doesn’t exist in this sense: “God will tell me what to do, show me where to go, and then I cannot fail.” In this scenario, I assume “His understanding” means hearing God sets me up to coast. This error usually brings me to a moment when I say, “I know that was God! What went wrong?”
Remember, prophetic revelation is more preparatory than predictive. While it does predict, the revealing is not perfect or complete or mature in that prediction. The Word is perfectly prepared but the people aren’t. Revelation is more about getting me ready to be and do what the prediction anticipates than guaranteeing me complete success just because I know and understand what God is doing. Prophetic revelation demands that I begin to change my ways, re-prioritize my life, repent to be changed – so I am ready to walk the path He is making plain to my feet.
Heart trust touches behavioral acknowledging, that brings feet boldness – “all my heart, all my ways, paths for my feet.” When I trust with all my heart, I can acknowledge God in all my ways so my feet can walk the whole path He is making straight. Flesh demands that God share His understanding so we can trust in what we now understand and walk out the path God should make easy for us as we take the lead. Oops! Convoluted thinking. We are not leaning on our understanding of His understanding…else we would be acknowledging ourselves in all our ways.
An architect must design something build-able. He isn’t going to drive the nails or paint the walls, so he has to know enough about building that the design can actually be built by someone else. The greater level of difficulty the design demands, the greater level of expertise he must have in the subcontractors who build it. If the subcontractors available cannot meet the demands of the design, he will need to change the design or educate the subcontractors.
God’s design is way above us, so He educates His subcontractors because they are inexperienced in building what He has designed. So, His prophetic revelation begins a preparation of the subcontractors He will use to complete His design. They cannot acknowledge Him in all their ways until they learn to “trust with all their hearts.” Humans would settle for some contractors who have “already done this before,” but God is as interested in bringing His co-workers up to the next level as He is in completing His building at the next level.
“Trust with all your heart” eliminates the work slow down of constantly asking the architect to explain the blueprints. “Acknowledge Him in all your ways” is the process of learning to build according to design demands. The acknowledging Him in all our ways changes us to build the design more than us changing the design to build something consistent with our present level of experience.
Jesus learned obedience by means of the passion-driven pain of His experiences. Father teaches trust through obedience. “Almost all of my heart” trust produces “almost” obedience…produces “almost” acknowledgement of His understanding in our behavior…produces “almost” straight pathways for our destiny fulfillment.
I cannot get to perfect destiny fulfillment ignoring the “all my heart” trust issue. In other words, the only way to get to destiny fulfillment in God is through faith. A thousand nights of hard thinking won’t get me there. A hundred prophetic words won’t get me there no matter what level of prophetic revelation I am receiving. A seven-year seminary education won’t prepare me to acknowledge Him since knowing more about His understanding is a million miles from knowing His understanding through trust.
I find it painful watching people “acknowledging Him in all their ways” at a frantic pace who don’t trust Him with all their hearts. They are proving their own understanding of His understanding more than they are trusting Him. They are attempting to prove they are called, anointed, empowered, and loved through busyness and effort and “Daytimer-full-of-actions” living, but they are no closer to straight paths for their feet because without simple trust they are still acknowledging their own understanding of His understanding.
I’m talking about going at it backwards: “your paths” are destiny fulfillment lanes God cuts through hazardous terrain. You can’t do that on your own no matter how awesome you are! Some simply attempt to bulldoze the way through in their own strength and wisdom. Others attempt to discover the road through by obligating God with their own version of acknowledging Him: “if I do all these things, God will have to make a way! After all, I’m doing this for Him, in His Name!”
Watch Jesus! He walked a way where there was no way by trusting Father, learning obedience by means of passionate suffering, finishing the job of the Cross so Father could make a plain path for the Resurrection. Jesus did the “all your heart” trust, drawing from the purest pool, poured out, the Son acknowledging Father in all His ways, so Father could open a plain, straight, perfect path to the fullness of His destiny.
Jesus did it! Ran the race route and finished so we can look to Him as the beginning of the race and the end of the race. See Gethsemane in this light and understand the Resurrection as His destiny path to final, finished fulfillment – Father sat Him down in highest heaven, above every authority, power, wisdom, and claim!
“Almost” just won’t cut it!