DESPERATION: A SECRET TO TRUSTING THE LORD?
By: Norm Rasmussen
(I've felt lead to do some teaching about TRUSTING THE LORD - HAVING FAITH IN GOD. Here's a link to each segment as they get filmed and uploaded, as well as a short written teaching on the subject: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4)
Trusting the Lord is easy for some people, but it has not always been easy for me. Maybe that's why I keep being put in challenging situations where I have no choice but to trust the Lord. Here's just one of many of those "trying situations" I recall from times past that may encourage you if you are struggling to trust God in a difficult situation of your own, or struggling to understand the value of fasting or praying prayers of agreement.
In 1982, Kathleen, my wife, 31 years old at the time, and me, age 36 -- we decided to get away from civilization, to be alone with God for a season, and we decided a little camping trip was just the ticket. We headed off through the woods with a bright orange nylon survival tent, two sleeping bags, a backpack, a few gallons of water, and our Bibles. Food was not necessary. We had been fasting, seeking direction from God for something important in our lives for a number of days, so this was just a continuation of the fast, but in a different setting.
We pitched the tent by dark and turned in early. The following day, which was Saturday, we separated most of the day and sought God in prayer and in the scriptures. Toward evening, I sensed the Holy Spirit was saying it was time to break the fast. Kathleen concurred.
Chow time! Head to town 15 miles away into Greenville, Michigan and gorge ourselves at a restaurant! That was now our destination.
After eating, around 11 P.M. that night, we parked our car on the dirt two-track and began our hike back to the tent. It was about 3/4 of a mile away - down an old fire trail through the woods - then about 100 yards directly into the dense woods were there was no trail. A "piece of cake."
I led the way. My sweetheart followed. We had only one flashlight. Eventually it was time to leave the fire trail and walk the few hundred feet along a gentle ravine, and there our little orange nylon tent would be . . . just ready for us to crash from exhaustion due to our weakness from fasting so long and honestly, way overeating at the restaurant.
I, the great outdoorsman, continued to lead the way. "Ought to be there any second, honey," I said cheerfully. Seconds turned into minutes. No tent to be found.
"You won't get us lost, will you honey?"
"You won't get us lost, will you honey? I'm sure tired, and the mosquitoes are eating me alive." Being it was the middle of the summer, neither of us had brought along long pants, and we had forgotten to bring the mosquito repellant.
"Nothing to worry about, precious. It's 'gotta be right close by."
It's amazing how all the forest looks the same after dark. It didn't take much longer to realize we had walked too far. Moments later we came to a fire trail. Where did this come from, I thought to myself? I didn't know there were TWO trails in the area.
We walked on it a ways and suddenly I saw something I recognized. The old black stump! "Uh, honey, . . . don't know how this happened, but we just walked a complete circle in those woods and came out 35 yards south of where we went in. Let's try it again."
Back into the woods we walked, only I was more careful this time. I had to pay attention. Things looked vastly different than they did during the day.
"You'll get us there this time, right?" she asked, becoming very wearily now.
"Piece of cake, love. Don't know how we walked past it the first time, but we won't miss it this time."
We walked almost another identical circle without knowing it, and I would have gambled Moe our loving cat that I was walking in a straight line, but we came out on the fire trail within 10 feet of where we came out the first time!
"This is ridiculous!" I exclaimed. I've walked miles after dark in the woods and never got turned around this easy. Twice now I've tried to find that tent a mere 100 yards from here, and not only have I walked right by it somehow but I've ended up bringing us right back to where we started!"
"Let's go back to the car," was her reaction, quietly simmering inside now. "I'm dead tired - exhausted. We at least know where the car is."
Six foot four inch guys don't sleep well in small cars. That's why they make tents (I think). Besides, it was the principle of the thing. "I'm going back in there one more time. Just let me have one more try, okay?"
"Not me. Sorry. I'm sitting down here and resting. You go right ahead and walk a few more circles if you would like, and if you happen to find the tent, come back and get me. I'll be here in the dark smacking mosquitoes. It'll keep me awake." I was pushing her to the limit, it was becoming very obvious now.
"Somebody probably stole it while we were gone; ever think of that?" she said, as I entered the woods a third time. I was strongly considering that a possibility by then, but who in the world would have ever been back in the woods to know it was even there in the first place, I questioned inside myself. We were in secluded woods no one walked in except in hunting season.
Half an hour later I exited the woods and intersected the fire trail one more time, never finding the tent. I walked along it until I found Kathleen.
"It's time to pray, honey"
"It's time to pray, honey," I broke the silence. "Let's pray a prayer of agreement and trust the Lord to show us where the tent is, okay?"
"You should have suggested that 2 trips ago," she snipped. I couldn't blame her for being frustrated. I was too, but I didn't want her to know it. This was principle now. If that tent was in the woods, there was no reason why God couldn't lead me to it, whether by light or by walking in the dark, providing I didn't poke a limb in my eye.
We joined hands in the dark. "Lord, I'm having trouble. I'm asking that You show us where the tent is, and I'm going to trust You that You will. Amen."
Many long minutes later, there was no tent to be found. Back out to the fire trail. We're talking 2:30 A.M. now. It was even getting past the mosquitoes' bedtime - almost!
"Will you please give me the light and the car keys? I'm walking back to the car! You can wander around out here in the dark if you want all night -- I'm exhausted and I need some sleep!"
"Honey, look - what kind of trusting is that? We can't just ask the Lord for help and tell Him we're going to trust Him and then give up just because He didn't come through the first time around. Trusting means not quitting once you've said you're going to trust Him."
"Okay, only will you promise me that if we don't find it this next time around, you'll take me back to the car?"
I gave her a politician's answer. "We'll find it, don't worry. He'll show us."
Inside, I did began to be almost convinced now that someone had stolen the tent, and the tent was not to be found afterall. Was I stupid to continue with this folly, or was the devil just bombarding me with doubt, trying to rob us of having our prayer and trust honored by God?
We began walking. Certain trees and stumps were now looking very familiar. We continued to walk; still no tent. Half an hour later I knew we had to have walked passed it again, if it was even there. Our flashlight was about dead. We both were beat, and Kathleen was becoming so upset she didn't want to talk.
I took her hand and began to pray: "Lord - in Proverbs 3:5-6 it says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
"Lord - I'm trusting you to show us that tent. If someone stole it, or if I'm doing something wrong, would you please let me know? We've acknowledged You to the best of our ability, and leaning on my own understanding speaks for itself . . . so I'm trusting You to make my path straight . . . right to the tent!"
Stubbornness can be a gift of God, or a major hindrance ... depending on how it is applied. The wisdom of my stubbornness (persistence?) now weighed in the balance ...
I finished that prayer and headed back into the dark woods. Kathleen batted more pesky mosquitoes as she sat alone in the dark. The flashlight was nearly dead. I could only use the light now on brief occasions to make sure I didn't poke an eye out by walking into a tree, otherwise we would have no light period.
I slowly walked and walked, mostly in the dark, until I knew that I had walked plenty far. There was no point in walking any further. Either I was somehow walking right by the tent like before ... or someone had stolen it afterall, and there was no tent to be found period.
Standing there in the dark, I became so discouraged. A battle in my mind and spirit raged. That battle between human reason verses trusting God for the impossible, and all the possible ramifications that go with it.
I began talking to the Lord. "Lord - I trusted you with everything in my being to be able to find the tent this last time. I was so confident you would lead me to it. What happened? Why haven't you honored my trust? Did someone take the tent afterall? Just please let me know, and I'll stop looking."
Just a second or two later, something prompted me to point the flashlight in the total opposite direction of where I would have thought to look for the tent, and not more than 10 yards away was the orange tent at the end of the very dim flashlight beam!
My feelings of jubilation soared, because had we left the woods that night and came back the next day in daylight and found the tent ... I would have been so troubled by that. God did honor our prayer of agreement afterall and my persistent stubbornness, and I believe by God testing my faith that night ... it actually strengthened it for the future! Furthermore, my hope is that this little testimony will be used by Him to help bolster your desire to trust God to get you through whatever difficult situation you might be facing now, or one day in the future.
There have been times after that when I've struggled trusting God for something, and the Holy Spirit will take me back to this "tent finding episode" and use it to remind me that God is much more interested in honoring our trust than what a legion of demons of doubt want us believing when we're going through a trial.
Lord -- I pray for whoever just read this testimony. I ask that if they are struggling with something that only You can find, fix, or solve ... that you give them a little boost in their determination to trust You all the more to help them. Let this prayer be honored by You, heavenly Father, on their behalf - for YOUR glory. I ask it and trust it to be so in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!"
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