Trusting Who?

I find myself watching the sweeping hands of time roll past and questioning what it means to trust God. In my younger years, lack of life experiences and immaturity across-the-board meant  trusting God was a pretty shallow pond. 

Early in my ministry career I made very little money. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact. It was my first full time job outside of college and I really needed to be a good money manager. What’s the best way to say this…

I was not.

I was at a place where I needed to trust God literally for pennies. How were we going to get through? How were we going to get the next meal, or repair the car? Those times of trusting God tested me on how I would treat my fellow man. Most folks talk about how those ‘thin’ times taught them to trust God. They did, but they also showed me something about myself I have never forgotten. 

I’m one of those guys who grew up with the idea that I can buy a junk car, fix it up, and sell it to make a profit. During those early years I had a mid 80’s Oldsmobile Cutlass that I needed to sell. A gentleman offered to buy it for the price I was asking, but he wanted to make payments. 

Payments from a total stranger. 

Never once did I question him with, “Say, if you can make payments to me why not go to a car lot?” (Because he can’t borrow money, stupid). 

However if you have any age on you at all you know what comes next. Desperation breeds bad decisions like moisture breads mold. 

We signed the contract, made an agreement, and I turned the keys and car over while holding the title. He was faithful in making his payments. For 10 months he paid in cash on time. He kept the car spotless. He followed through…till the very last payment. 

He was late and he didn’t call me. When I called him he apologized and said he would get me the money soon. I reminded him of our terms and that it would be good for him to stay in touch with me. A week later I hadn’t heard anything from him. I called him and told him I needed the car back. To his credit he cleaned the car, filled it up, brought it back to me while forfeiting the 10 months of payments he’d made. I ended up selling the car and basically got twice its worth. 

  • Some call it good business. 
  • Some would call it good boundaries . 
  • Some would say ‘too bad’. He agreed to the terms and failed to follow through. 

I remember the look on his face when he dropped the car off. Written as plain as the daylight…

The shadow of rejection, shame, I’m not enough, darkened his ability to see anything else other than failure. I was nice, but righteously indignant, and carrying the attitude of “How dare someone not meet their obligations or follow through with their word.”

30 years later there’s a bruise on my heart and that platform of righteous indignation is cracked and broken. 

I didn’t find a merciful way to help this gentleman.

I didn’t find a courageous stand to trust God when everything said I was in the right. 

What I learned was that desperation on my part equals intolerance for others. 

I’ve heard it said that we’re only 3 meals away from anarchy. When we’re pinched, the ugly tends to come out. We all witnessed the mass craziness during the last few years when toilet paper, gas, and other commodities were running behind. Folks pumped gas into trash bags and purchased 5 months of toilet paper at once, all because they were afraid.

Looking back 30 years ago, I now question if I was trusting God or as it says in the Old Testament, I was trusting in horses and chariots.

It’s hard to recognize how often we lean on ourselves to figure things out instead of turning to God. I think we often look for a simplistic answer to a complex problem. Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of travel in the states.

When you’re flying at 30,000 feet it’s very clear what is God’s handiwork you are looking at and what is man’s. As humans, we make straight roads, cities lined up in blocks, with everything stacked and counted. 

God’s hand never seems to have a very straight path. The random orderliness of creation shows that most paths, untouched by man, are not straight. Maybe my growth with God meant not showing mercy to this gentleman 30 years ago, but now, as my life reveals a tapestry of mistakes and success, I recognize that mercy is a sign of greatness.  

At 58 if I could find him, I would beg for forgiveness.

I wasn’t trusting God back then. I was trusting in my cunning, crafty ways to handle someone else. 

Matthew 16:26 – From the Message Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

Peace to you and yours,



One Response

  1. The tug of right and wrong vs. what’s good for me now changes with both our level of maturity and our sense of desparatness. It’s good to look back to see “this is what I did well” and “I’m not so proud of this one” to bring both a sense of humility, and a reinforced sense of what is right. This looks like a lesson you have assimilated well. Kudos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *