Trusting God vs. Pleasing God

man wearing gray T-shirt standing on forest

As the famous poem goes, 

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference.”

Or at least, that’s the part we all know. Oh yeah, I’m Luke (the boyfriend), by the way! I decided to write a post for once, so welcome to this limited edition of The Adventurous Life.

In his poem, Robert Frost comes upon two roads in a yellow forest. Both of them have inviting features, but he can only take one. I also came upon a fork in the road two weeks ago, and I have been finding it rather hard myself: do I want to please God, or do I want to trust God?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: both! You want to please AND trust God. I agree, however, I have to choose. You may be thinking, “You don’t have to choose, you SHOULD do both!” They sound like they could go well together, but in practical application, when I’m working to please God, I am not trusting that I am pleasing to God just the way I am. And when I do take the path of trusting that my identity alone is pleasing to God, there is no longer reason to work at pleasing him. If you’re striving to please, you’re no longer trusting, so they cannot happen simultaneously. 

yellow arrow road sign

The other day, I was reading Truefaced, and in it the authors were talking of two trails that lead to two completely different places:The Room of Striving to Be All God Wants Me to Be and The Room of Grace.

I don’t know about you, but I was always taught that salvation is through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). No works I do can ever be enough to get me to heaven. They all fall short (remember that cliff illustration? God over there, me over here with the cross spanning the gulf. Beautiful!). So as you can see, we all start our salvation journey by faith (or trust) alone.  However, after I gave my life to Christ, trusting Him to save me, I was placed on a journey that brought me to this sign that marked to paths: “Pleasing God” and “Trusting God”

This confused me because I sang a song in church that said “Trust and obey.” Did I just get the wrong conjunction? No, that’s the way the song goes, and both things are important, but like we discussed before–we have to choose only one to be a priority.

I, however, confused my priorities and I started walking down the path of Pleasing God because, after all that He’s done for me, I want to please Him with my life. I opened the door to the Room of Striving to Be All God Wants Me to Be. In the room, I saw many people, and they looked good, all put together, and really pleasing God. This is where I’ve spent the majority of my life–wearing the mask of good intentions.

It was hard staying in The Room of Striving when I had things in my life that would make it look like I wasn’t really striving to be all God wants me to be. Just being honest here, I’ve got some sins that I am currently struggling with that many Christians would gasp at and maybe even wonder if I’m truly saved if I still struggle with these things. This makes me want to hide them away so I can look like I’m pleasing God. Then I go to sweep up my mess when nobody’s looking. I wanted to be accepted so I had to wear a mask to cover up my scars. 

woman in orange and blue life vest on water

In The Room of Grace, however, I don’t need a mask. When I walk down the road of Trusting God, I find that God says I’m His masterpiece and that He is rather fond of me. He says that he hates it when I put my mask on and asks me to leave it at the trailhead. He wants to walk with me and He wants to enjoy me for me. 

And with this we find the answer to our paradox: when we walk down the road of Trusting God with who we are, and stop trying to please God by hiding our sins, He can then stand with us, with our sin out in front of us, and He then grabs His shovel and starts digging away at my sin. What about you? Are you willing to put down your mask with me? God wants to love us for who we are, not for who we’re trying to be. 

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

3 thoughts on “Trusting God vs. Pleasing God

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