Eyes to See and Feet to Walk: Trusting the Character of God
In anticipation of our annual conference in October, we will be offering monthly articles that center on this year’s theme, The Promises of God. Now more than ever, when there seems to be no solid ground beneath our feet, we stand on the promises of God. In Christ we receive a new heart and a new spirit, becoming citizens of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Join us at Rooted 2021 as we celebrate the One whose promises to us are trustworthy and true: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)
Psalm 26:3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
Over ten years ago, my husband, three-year-old son, and I moved to London with seven suitcases, one job, three visas that showed we had arrived earlier than allowed, and no permanent place to live.
We arrived in London, wearied but eager to get settled. By God’s grace and friendly international relations, a kind immigration agent allowed us into the country early. After a long taxi ride, we arrived at a work colleague’s flat where we would stay until we found our own place. I began to unpack and found a stack of Bible verses a friend had written out for me.
“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness,” from Psalm 26:3 stood out to me, and I placed it on the bathroom mirror and later made copies of it for my purse and the kitchen. In the days to come, the reality of navigating a new country with new customs all while toting around a three-year-old sank in. I listened to parenting CDs by a friend who had a deeply southern accent and found comfort in the familiar pronunciations. We took turns going to Starbucks to use the internet where we would search for apartment listings and e-mailed friends and family back home. It was a hard and oftentimes lonely transition.
All the while, Psalm 26:3 stayed physically close to me.
I loved the verb tenses of Psalm 26:3: “is” and “walk.” They are both present and active verbs. They aren’t contained to the past or promised to only the future. His steadfast love is present. His faithfulness is present. In fact I walk in it! If that was true enough for David to write about it in the Psalms, surely it is true for me.
During our London adventure, I began to look for His steadfast love and his faithfulness in concrete ways as I recalled the events of the last year. I quickly saw how it extended beyond this move. Life had not always gone smoothly or to my plan, but I could see God’s handprints on so many instances that had brought us not only to London, but through collegeas well. God had been tender, patient, and gentle to me. His character was clear to me in the ways he ministered to me through friends, family, the church, and Scripture. By God’s grace, I could look back over the past years and know for a fact that the Lord had shown me his steadfast love and faithfulness. And because of that I could walk forward (albeit scared) trusting that He who had been steadfast would continue to be so—even in London.
After nearly two years that were both hard and good, we moved back home with a five-year-old, a new baby, and more stories of God’s faithfulness to our family. Those two boys are now fifteen and ten, joined by a younger brother who is seven. And that promise to which I clung in London still holds the same power to encourage me as I continue to live life alongside my husband and our three boys in Alabama.
Psalm 26:3 contains the promise of God’s active presence, love, and faithfulness. When I remember what God had already done in my life, my faith is strengthened even when I don’t understand my present circumstances. I try to look in the present and future for how God will continue to provide for all that I need or that my children need. Like waiting for a visa approval or a place to live, parenting brings a host of insecurities and uncertainties. But the constant I rely on is not my situations or circumstances, nor my children’s – it is in the certainty of the character of God.
As our boys have gotten older, the challenges in parenting don’t get easier, they just are different. But God’s love and faithfulness, not only in the past tense, but in the present and future, is active and life-changing. And should I ever doubt it, or not be able to feel it or see it, I need not look further than the cross. Jesus loved his Father and his people in such an obedient way that He was willing to die for us, sinners who often doubt his love and faithfulness.
When I gaze upon the cross, the worries of parenting don’t go away. Jesus doesn’t wave a magic wand and conjure up whatever outcome I desire for my children’s lives. But the worries are met with a promise of who God is and what He has done.
Teaching our children to look back, around, and forward to the ways God is at work in their lives not only takes the focus off of themselves but it opens up conversations. Hard questions will surely arise, as they do within ourselves, when our expectations or desires aren’t met. We don’t know why he didn’t make a team. We don’t know why her friend ditched her for another crowd. We don’t know why she did make the team, or why he seems to get along easily with everyone.
When we trust God’s loving and faithful character, we begin to look for something deeper than the silver lining. It’s not just the lesson learned – though the lesson learned is usually a good one – but it is also the deepening of a relationship with God, the walking in his faithfulness. When I say, or teach our children to say, “I don’t know,” He says, “I do know.” When we say, “Where are you?” He says, “Right here.” Experience graciously begins to teach us the comfort of a relationship with an unchanging God.
I’m still learning to take my eyes off of the circumstances of life. I’m still learning to look back, around, and forward for God. But the more I do, the more I see Him and the less I see of me. I look not to my steadfast love for God, but to the steadfast love of God for me. I look not to my faithfulness to God, but in His faithfulness to me. It is not, nor ever will be, about what I have done to love and be faithful to God, but what He has already done and continues to do in love and faithfulness. And I take that next step, walking with a loving and faithful God.