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The Trying Trail

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. —Martin Luther King Jr.

In the book TrueFaced, the authors present a dilemma. They ask us to imagine we’re walking on a narrow path—a thick, green, verdant wood with deep underbrush. But as we walk, the path divides into a very definite split.

One path is named “Pleasing God” and the other path “Trusting God.” They go off in opposite directions. We can’t walk them both at the same time, so we’re forced to choose. Which will it be: Pleasing God or Trusting God?

Let’s head down the Pleasing God path and see where it leads. It’s wide and filled with earnest, hardworking people. As we come around the first corner, there’s a sign that says: ALSO KNOWN AS THE “TRYING TRAIL.” That makes sense. On this trail we’ll do whatever we can to try and please God.

As we walk further, we see tables set up like water stations at a marathon. These tables are full of people giving advice on how to please God.

  • The Bible Reading Table tells us which translation God prefers, which yearly Bible plan is most comprehensive, and at what time of day He is most tuned into us.
  • The Giving Table has several people offering several opinions. One tells us that a 10 percent tithe pleases God. Another insists that 10 percent is so Old Testament; to please God, we must give more than 10 percent. Someone else teaches there’s nothing in the New Testament about percentages, but God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
  • The Parenting Table is handing out literature. And before we know it, we can’t see past the stack of parenting books piled high in our arms.

As we walk away, we still don’t know exactly how to please God. Where is our definitive answer? Friends, this is why it’s called the “Trying Trail.” All that human effort is frustrating and discouraging.

So let’s head back to the fork and take the Trusting God path instead. What’s the difference going to be?

Jesus, has my approach to our relationship been like a spiritual buffet as I try out various ways of making You happy with me? If so, I’m open to a new way. Amen.

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