October 31, 2018 -

Vertical and Horizontal Trust

What are your dreams? What are your desires? What exploits would you like to accomplish for the kingdom of God? What type of person do you desire to become? Are you satisfied with the process through which God is bringing you, or do you find yourself caught in complacency, mired in mediocrity, stuck, stagnant and stifled?

Many times, trust in God is the difference between the cruising or crawling Christian! The only differences between Abraham, Noah, David, Peter, and you are that those men put their trust in God. Although, they weren’t perfect; the Bible records the mistakes and disobedience of each of them. But when the game was on the line, they trusted not in their own strength, but in God.

Trust in More than Just Yourself

If you trust in yourself, face it—you are not going to get very far. If your trust is in your great education, you may be remembered as one who contributed to your field of study. If your trust is in idealistic ethical standards, you may be remembered as a person of integrity. But when you trust in God, anything is possible and all doors are open to you. Your life will rise to the level of that in which you place your trust.

The term “God-sized”[i] refers to a work that is larger than the human ability to manage. The key to laying hold of a God-sized task is our trust in God; as our trust level grows, so does the mighty work He is able to accomplish through us. When David confronted Goliath, he undertook a God-sized task, which could be successfully completed only through the power of the Holy Spirit. David put his trust completely in God, and his performance rose to God’s level.

David’s Trust

Israel was at war with the Philistines. Two armies—perhaps 210,000 men each (I Samuel 15:4)—camped on opposite sides of a valley. It was not uncommon to lose 20,000 men in a single battle in those days. Imagine David, a teenager armed with only a stick and a slingshot, having the audacity and boldness to challenge a professional soldier, the undefeated champion of his nation, who was twice David’s size and strength. A 6-year-old boy might have the same chance against an adult man. Yet David trusted in God and knew the God in whom he trusted.

David knew the Word of God, that God had never failed Israel in the past. He knew that God was a living God, compared to the Philistines’ dead gods—a fact which he pointed out to Goliath. Israel’s God had given David victory in every prior difficult situation. David’s trust was based in knowing God, reinforced by his experiences, and sealed by his life of prayer. David knew the stakes and knew that God would cause him to prevail. David was not afraid to take the fate of his people and his country on his shoulders—his failure would have spelled disaster for Israel that day. David had already been anointed the king over Israel. He trusted God’s prophet and had faith that God would bring his reign to pass—He could never have been killed in this battle!

You already know that the story ended with the slight shepherd boy’s accurately placed slingshot stone hitting Goliath squarely between the eyes, Goliath crashing to the ground, and David beheading the giant with his own sword.

The same ability to lay hold of a God-sized task is available to us today, but it is entirely dependent on the level of trust we have in God.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”[ii] With God all things truly are possible. The great heroes of our Christian heritage have finished their race, but God is not finished working with people. He continues to work and desires to perform miracles in the midst of our life circumstances. He still wants to perform mighty works through anyone who will give him the opportunity. He is longing for people who will trust in Him.

“What we are willing to walk away from determines what God will bring to you.”

—Mike Murdock

How Does Trust in God Effect Me?

Baby Boomers may remember a popular television game show from the 1950s-’70s, Truth or Consequences. Hosted by several different personalities over the years, the one I (Alan) best remember is Bob Barker. The host would ask contestants to answer a trick question. When they failed to do so, they would have to pay the consequence—a sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes sentimental stunt.

For some people, this also describes the way God works. He’s a capricious “earth show” host who places us in unpredictable situations in which we are doomed to fail. Then He further confounds us with difficult or embarrassing consequences—in one “no win” situation after another. How can anyone trust a God like that?

Beginning life totally dependent upon his or her parents or other adults, a baby has no choice whether or not to trust. In fact, an infant must learn not to trust through firsthand experience. Unfortunately, recent news reports are rife with stories of babies beaten by their mother’s boyfriend or shaken to the point of brain damage by a frustrated babysitter. Such things ought not to be, but sadly, they happen.

However, it doesn’t take such extremes for a child to learn not to trust adults. Nine-year-old Travis has a baseball game after school. His dad promises he’ll be there to watch him play. But as the innings go up on the scoreboard, Travis’ hopes of seeing his dad go down. Whether Dad experienced a crisis at work or stopped at a bar for a beer makes no difference. The message to Travis is the same: You can’t trust Dad to keep his word.

Our lives are made up of strings of fable-like circumstances—each a little story with a moral at the end. How many of your stories end with a message that says, “You can’t trust him” or “You can’t trust her”? As you can see from our example, these stories don’t have to be major catastrophes, though some of them are. But it doesn’t take much for the message of rejection to get through to a child. By adulthood, these messages may be so much a part of the fabric of our lives, we’re not even aware that our souls are cloaked in them. Yet they influence the ways in which we view ourselves, our relationships with other people, and our relationship with God.

We can view the area of trust as a road that comes to a fork. At this fork, we are faced with a decision whether to trust or not to trust, whether to try again or to operate out of our own limited resources. Of course, every day we must choose to trust others in seemingly minor issues, but the decision we’re referring to here is of a more encompassing nature: Will the person standing at that fork choose a lifestyle of continuing to trust in spite of the disappointments, or choose a lifestyle of self-sufficiency based on the belief that people are generally untrustworthy? Worse yet, when a person believes that God has authored the disappointment, will he or she choose to withhold trust from Him when the stakes are high?

What if I Don’t Learn to Trust?

Where do the different forks of this road take us? Generally speaking, the fork of the “trustless” lifestyle takes us down a road that leads to a life of loneliness; for without trust, deep relationships cannot be developed and lasting relationships cannot be maintained. This road leads to the mediocrity of achievement; for a person who will not trust others is limited by his or her own stock of resources and abilities—which are always less than the abilities of people working together. It is a road on which the enemy of our souls wants to keep you.

Ah, the “enemy.” Did you know you have one? We’re not making this up just to scare you. The Bible uses that very word when it says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”[iii] Without going into a lot of spiritual “mumbo jumbo,” let’s just say that if you sometimes feel as if you’re being attacked, you probably are. However, the person doing the attacking is often not clothed in flesh and blood, no matter how the situation appears to you. Scripture calls him Satan, our adversary, Lucifer, the serpent, the father of lies. He’s the leader of a host of fallen angels who rebelled against God’s sovereign rule in Heaven. He is not Jesus’ brother or anywhere near His equal. But do not be mistaken; he is powerful. In fact, much more powerful than you are, if left to your own devices. Fortunately, God has not left you on your own to deal with this powerful angel of darkness. You have all the armor of God and His weapons of spiritual warfare[iv] at your disposal.

Without trust, your faith—the very foundation of your salvation—will erode. On the one hand, trusting provides the probability of disappointment but also the probability of success and happiness. But on the other, not trusting provides the certainty of loneliness within the supposed safety of self-sufficiency.

Vertical versus Horizontal Trust: Why Do You Need Both?

Vertical trust is the trust you share with God. Horizontal trust is that which you have in others. These two forms of trust are vital in a stable life and relationship.

Am I saying the lifestyle of trust is a road paved with gold and happiness? No, not always. People and things will continue to disappoint you. Your friends will let you down, forget to do promised favors and even forget your birthday. Your husband or wife will also continue to fall short of your expectations. But by choosing to demonstrate your faith and trusting again, your life can be restored and regenerated beyond measure. Deep friendships will eventually become a reality, and achievements come much easier with the help of others.

Stay tuned for this week’s Trust Minute video with Alan Heller, where Walk and Talk dives deeper into the importance of Vertical and Horizontal Trust.

Watch Last Week’s Trust Minute – Why Trust is Essential

Watch A Trust Minute

[i] Mike Richardson, a missionary for Harvest Evangelism, has coined this term.

[ii] Matthew 19:26.

[iii] I Peter 5:8.

[iv] Ephesians 6:10-18.


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