Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
These verses are familiar to many. Many people have put them into practice on more than one occasion. If you are one of those people, you might have applied them when making a decision about the future—sort of like standing at a fork in the road and trying to decide which way to go. Trusting in the Lord will help you choose the right course, or maybe help you realize that whichever fork you take, God is there.
The definition of “trust” implies a conscious act of putting our hope and confidence in another. Later in that same chapter of Proverbs, we get a deeper understanding of what it means to trust the Lord:
Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.
If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. Prov. 3:23-26
The picture of “sudden terror” and “ruin of the wicked” should alert us to the fact that the road ahead may not be completely pleasant! When we trust in the Lord, we not only put our hope in God for a bright future, but we put our confidence in God to take care of us through the dangers lurking there.
I had the privilege recently to join our ministry partners for a week of retreat, rest and rejuvenation for them and their families. Desire Street has been hosting these retreats for several years now. Each year, the connection between our partners grows deeper, richer, sweeter. It comes from shared experience in the life of urban ministry; it comes from shared trust in the Lord with all their hearts.
This has been a difficult year for many of our partners in terms of loss due to violent crime in their neighborhoods. The time together at our retreat allowed our partners and their families to lie down unafraid for a whole week of sweet sleep. It also gave them the opportunity to talk about their struggles, hopes, joys and fears with others who know and understand those exact same feelings. Being able to “connect” like that helps our partners remember that their stress and struggle is normal, that they are not alone, that “underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deut. 33:27)
Whether we know it or not, all of us are reliant on the Lord for our next breath. We have little control over what a day or night will bring—our planned path can change in the blink of an eye. Some of us live in conscious awareness of that fact, and some of us are “blessed” to go to bed at night not even thinking of such things. We retreat from the world into the safe haven of our homes and wake thinking about our plan for the day.
Not so in distressed neighborhoods. When our ministry partners lie down at night wanting to retreat— needing desperately to retreat—from the day’s chaos to the safety of sweet dreams, they do so with a very real sense of putting their trust in the Lord for that safety and sleep that is sweet.
I believe strongly that a rhythm of work and rest is critical to sustainability in urban ministry. At our annual retreat, we give our ministry partners and their families the chance to regain perspective in a place of blessed freedom and rest from the reality of their everyday worlds.
We would be honored if you would pray with our partners who live in the constant reality of a broken world. We pray for their faith to face the future, and for wisdom and discernment to put life in perspective. We pray they can rest soundly knowing the Lord is in control. And we pray for a deeper and deeper trust in the Lord for our partners, and us all, as we together seek the goal of transforming impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.