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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - Ugly Trust

Steven Furtick - Ugly Trust

Steven Furtick - Ugly Trust

I want to do something kind of interesting today. I want to preach off of that song we were just singing. I want to preach on "Trust in God". Would it be all right if I expound a little bit on what we were just singing? I'm going to show you where that came from, what you were just singing. That is such a great confession to make. "I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered". I want you to put all of that right now in your heart. "I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered".

If you're watching online, I want you to put it in the comments. Does anybody have a phone I can pull up YouTube on and make sure they're doing what I'm telling them to do? Cole, go to the Elevation Church YouTube. Make sure they're following instructions. Welcome to our eFam around the world. Let's thank God for our family all around the world joining us right now. I think that was a 6 out of 10 welcome. I think we could give them a better welcome than that. Let's warm it up. Do you have the comments? There he is. That's my marketing director right there. He was on it. He was ready. Wasn't Elevation Nights incredible, Cole? Yeah. Just incredible. Everybody in here is a little salty. They're jealous they didn't get to come out to Toronto or Kansas City. One day, I'm going to load the whole church up.

Do y'all remember how Oprah used to take everybody to Australia? One day, I'm going to load the whole church up and take y'all to all eight nights. You're going to have to quit your job and believe God for a paycheck, because I'm going to take you away for two weeks. I almost took today off to rest. I just got in late last night. But the Lord wanted me to release this word today, so I came on to church to preach it. I know his voice. I've been doing this a long time. I know when he wants me to preach, and he wanted me in my pulpit today, so I came over. It's good to see you. I love you all. If I say anything inappropriate, blame it on the sleep deprivation. That's my explicit sermon warning, like they have on the album…"Explicit". Yeah, they're doing it.

All right. There we go. Thanks, Cole. I just had to make sure y'all were there, because this is going to be very powerful, from one of the most beautiful psalms in the Bible, Psalm 34. Hey, I'm doing it in the King James Version. Uh-oh. I just wanted to warn the Devil I'm coming from King James today so he can go ahead and clear the building. This is the psalm. I'm going to give you eight verses of it. "I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me…" Come on. Don't watch me like I'm a movie. Magnify him with me. There's no popcorn here today. This is not Big George Foreman. This is the house of God.

"O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him". I want to talk to you today about "Trust in God".

Father, our faith is in you. Our hope is in you. Our confidence is in you. You will never fail. Right now I thank you that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are your ways above our ways, your thoughts above our thoughts. I thank you that you hear every prayer, you pity every groan, and you see every need in this room, at our campuses, and all over the world, as this word goes forth. I thank you in advance for answering the prayers of your people, even the prayers they don't have words for, even the prayers they put away because they prayed a long time and nothing happened. We expect miracles today in your name, in your presence, by your word, by your hand. In Jesus' name I pray. And everybody said together, "Amen".

"I trust in God". I love watching you worship. I love it. I'm sorry if that sounds creepy, like I'm a stalker, but I just… It's one of the joys of my job to get to see you sing to your God. So much so that I spend half of my time in my job writing songs for you to sing with our team. The song we just put out called "Trust in God" was a song that came quickly and then slowly…quickly in the initial draft, slowly in the revisions. But to hear you sing it, it was worth every rewrite. It's really beautiful when you take something straight out of Scripture and… I think I told you a few weeks ago, or I don't remember if I just said this on one of my Basin recordings… I do these little recordings that I only send to a few people. Sometimes I put them online.

I don't remember where I said this or if you know this or not. My job is to put God's Word in your heart. That's my job. Sometimes it'll have a melody to it. Sometimes it'll be nice and calm. I just finished making you another one of those tracks. I don't know if y'all remember when I used to do these hype tracks you could listen to at the gym, like, "I Will Fight" and "I Will Be Confident". I just finished this new one. It's lethal. You're going to be able to do 85 close-grip push-ups when you listen to this…consecutively. It's going to be amazing. When God gives our church a song that comes straight from the Word of God, I think that's wonderful. If I tell you, "Go memorize these Scriptures," you're like, "I don't like homework. I'm not good at memory".

You memorized every single football player who was on your pretend lineup, but you can't memorize the Bible. I get it. I'm not mad about it. (I didn't mean for that to come out harsh. I was just trying to be funny. It came out really mean, but I didn't mean it mean.) If we put it in a way that you can sing it, "I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered"… Well, you were singing Scripture. So, you did Scripture memory today. Gold star. A-plus. If you don't get around to anything else you were supposed to do this week, you did that. You memorized that Scripture. "I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered. He delivered me from all my fear".

This is not only a little verse, but it's from one of the most poetic pieces of literature you could ever study. You see, Psalm 34 is an acrostic poem where they take the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each one of the verses is the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. You don't get that from the English because we don't speak Hebrew. I mean, it's still beautiful. But imagine how we would be shouting if we really got to see how it was written, where it's like, "Oh"! Technically, every single… That's why I once called David the greatest rapper of all time. Some people think it's Pac. Some people think it's Biggie. I definitely think it's David. I mean, who can do this? Every single verse is a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

So, there's a technical component to this psalm that is just beautiful enough to let us know that he really worked on this. He didn't just throw this together or tear a page out of his diary. He really took the time to dissect these different elements and then put them together where we could learn from them about how to trust God in our own situations. While the psalm follows the form, or the technique, of a thanksgiving psalm for an individual, it's pretty clear from the form that it was written for a whole community, which means it wasn't just written through the filter of his own personal faith or fear, but rather, it came through that funnel so it could be passed to us so that we could see what it really looks like to trust in God.

So, whenever this was written, it was not written while the author was going through his struggle, because nobody can pray in alphabetical order when they're going through hell. You don't pray alphabetical prayers when you have three different bills looking at you and you can't pay any of them. You don't pray alphabetic prayers when your kids are acting like they need three different medications. You don't pray alphabetical prayers when they start firing people who are more qualified than you, and you're wondering, "Well, if they fired them, I know I'm not…" That's not those King James prayers, is it? You don't say words like "I sought the Lord" when you're really going through a difficult storm. Maybe you do. I don't. I don't say, "I trusteth thee, Lord," in my low moments.

I may go back and look on them and say, "I'm so glad that I trusteth him, that I bequeathed my trust unto the divine," but when you're going through stuff, you don't say it that fancy. So, it brings me to the question…What does it really mean to say, "I sought the Lord"? As I reflected on that this week, I thought we should definitely study it. Before I preach it like I feel it, let me teach it just a little bit. When he says, "I sought the Lord," that definitely could mean he went to the temple to pray.

There are times in Scripture where they will say, "I sought the Lord," and it means they went to the temple, offered sacrifices, and prayed, but based on the context of this psalm, it's unlikely that that's what the psalmist means. Instead, he is probably talking about a type of seeking God that doesn't have to do with going to a physical location, but it's a particular state of mind. This particular state of mind is not a singular state of mind, because he says… Give me verse 4 again. Let's take it apart.

Let's break it down. Let's find out what we were singing about. It's one thing to sing it, but I don't need you just to sing it. I need you to really get it in your spirit. Verse 4: "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears". It's interesting that he's so confident on one hand and so honest on the other. He said, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears". Well, if you're seeking God, what are you afraid of? If he heard you, what are you afraid of? If you trust him, what are you afraid of? This word fear has to do with dread. This word fear has to do with the anticipation of something bad happening. More particularly, it's a certain state of your soul or your thoughts that is troubled.

So, the psalmist is saying, "I had a troubled thought pattern. I sought the Lord, and he heard me". I don't think you know how good that was. He said, "I had thoughts of doom and gloom, but I sought the Lord even while I had the thoughts, and he heard me". Why that makes me happy is the psalm started so beautifully, "I will bless the Lord at all times, and his praise will continually be in my mouth," that I almost got intimidated when I read it because I thought, "Well, I don't do that all the time". I don't always walk around praising God. I bump my toe. "Oh, praise the Lord for a coffee table to bump my toe on. Some people don't have coffee tables. Somebody would really be grateful for a coffee table to bump their toe on". And I don't say "Sought" when I bump my toe on the coffee table. It starts with an S, what I think in my head, but it's not sought.

Isn't that why y'all come to church here, so we can talk for real? Because that's so beautiful. The acrostic praise of the almighty God. "I will bless the Lord at all times". I love it too. It's so beautiful. I love words. I love language. I love poetry. I love beautiful-sounding words, beautiful-sounding songs. I love watching you worship. You look so pretty when you worship. You really do. I mean, you have this RBF, this resting blessed face. It's an amazing thing to see just to watch you worship God. I look around, and I'm like, "Oh, look. This is so sweet, so beautiful. Here we are all trusting God. Different ages, different stages, different people, all just trusting God. 'I sought the Lord…'"

What encouraged me about the psalm was not the first three parts that sounded so beautiful. After he said, "His praise will continually be in my mouth," he went on to say, "God heard me when my heart was filled with fear". The psalmist says, "My faith did not keep me from feeling afraid. Rather, my faith in God, my trust in God, was enough not only for me to seek him in my fear, but he heard me". That's why I praise him: he heard me. That's why I love him: he heard me. He didn't wait for me to say the right words. He didn't wait for me to bust it out in King James. He didn't wait for me to memorize 13 more verses. All I had to do was holler, "Help!" and he heard me. It didn't even sound pretty. I just hollered, "Help!" and he heard me. I didn't even have much of a voice left. I just hollered, "Help!" I love him. That's why I trust him: he heard me.

Do you know the Bible says his Spirit will intercede when you have only a groan that you can't get a word to go around? Have you ever felt a groan, an anxiety, a torment you couldn't even name, but you called a name that was greater than the feeling you couldn't name, and he heard what you wanted to say that you didn't have the words to say, but somehow God intercepted and interpreted your groan? Okay. I'll be good. I'm sorry. I'm just on that tour energy. Y'all have to be patient with me today. "I called on him and he heard me". You know how Alexa can hear you? You know how Siri can hear you? You say, "Hey Siri," and Siri starts telling you stuff.

Well, you can say, "Hey, Spirit, Holy Spirit, I need you right now". You can say, "Hey, Holy Spirit, I feel dry right now, but I need you to come through for me". You can say, "Hey, Holy Spirit, we're in this hospital room, and we need a miracle. If you don't give us a healing, we need a supernatural peace". You can be preaching your mom's funeral and say, "Hey, Holy Spirit, I need you," and he will hear you. He'll hear you from your heart. That's why I trust him. That's why I praise him. That's why I can't just sit there in church sometimes. I have to throw up both my hands and say, "Hey, Holy Spirit, here am I". High-five somebody and say, "He heard me".

And I'm glad, because my friends got tired of me complaining. I had to stop talking to them or they wouldn't be taking my calls anymore. He can take it. He can hear me. Like I was saying, this is an acrostic psalm. It is contrasting the fear the author felt with the response God gave. He summarizes this so simply it is almost deceptive on the surface. "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me. I will bless the Lord at all times". Remember, he wasn't talking like this while he was going through it. So, when I told you I want to talk to you about "Trust in God" today, I wasn't lying to you, but I was head-faking you a little bit. I hope that's okay. Just to bring you to this point.

See, there are different types of trust. Can we all agree there are different types of trust? You trusted the chair to sit down in today. That is a level of trust. You will not trust the chair to get you home down 485. That is a different type of trust. You will need something with wheels for that. You will not trust the chair or the car, I hope, to confess your deepest, darkest sins to. That is a different level of trust. Hopefully, you trust me to share with you what God's Word means to the best of my ability today, but that's one type of trust, because it's to the best of my ability. Then there is another level of trust that knows God will take what I say to you today and apply it to your life in the way that only you needed to hear it. That's another level of trust.

So, I don't want to talk to you today just about the moments where you totally trust God. I want to talk to those of you today who are having to trust God in a different way. If I were giving this message a title (which I am), it's called Ugly Trust. Thankfully, for us, we not only have the psalms that were written, but in some cases, we have record of the specific situations those psalms were inspired by. Such is the case with Psalm 34. So, if you want to know what happened in between the space where David said, "I sought the Lord, and he answered…"

What happened with David was that God had called him to be a king, but as with anything God promises you in your life, there is usually not a straight line between what he speaks to you and when it comes to pass. Many of us will be familiar with the name Saul from Scripture. He was the first king Israel ever had. He wasn't a very good king. He was an insecure king. He didn't ask God what he should do; he did whatever he thought he should do, just to make sure he kept what he thought he had, but that's the surest way to lose it. If you keep an open hand to God, he can fill it, but if you close your fist around what God gave you, he will have to pry your fingers off it.

So, Saul lost the kingdom that way. One of the worst mistakes he ever made was when God sent David to fight battles for him, he tried to kill what God sent him to help him. He chased David. I mean, chased David. One day, David was playing the harp for Saul, because David had this ambidextrous ability to play beautiful music, but he was also one of the baddest warriors to ever draw breath on the planet. He was really cool, because he could pick up a sword with his left hand or he could strum a harp with his right hand. Now that is multifaceted. But one day, as he is playing a beautiful song for Saul to get the evil spirit that was resting on him to dissipate for just a few minutes, Saul picks up a spear and throws it at David across the room. David is athletic. He missed. God is sovereign. He missed.

Not only does David have great flexibility and catlike abilities to dodge, but also, God has supernatural wisdom so that he will never allow anything to happen in your life that doesn't first pass through his hand. Saul hates David so much he gets his daughter, who is one of David's wives… And we won't talk about polygamy today. Old Testament kind of vibes on that. But he tries to get him trapped, and that doesn't work. David takes off running in caves, and Saul tries to hunt him down. There's this one specific incident I wanted to tell you about, as we talk about "I trust in God," where David found himself in a unique situation where he had God's Spirit and seal of approval, but he was having to run from Saul in the process of waiting for God's promise to come to pass.

God sent me to preach to somebody today who is having to trust God in between something you believe he spoke to you and something you are going through on the way to what he spoke to you. So, who's it for? I need to know. Who's this message for? Okay. Here's what David had to do. He had to go down to a place called Gath that's in the territory of the Philistines. Do either of those ring a bell for anybody in the room, even if it's one person? Do you remember a famous Philistine in the Bible who David had an encounter with? It starts with "Goli-" and ends with "-ath". Goliath, the famous giant David had to kill. He was from Gath in Philistia.

Now David is running from the king who he wants to be serving and helping and fighting for and playing music for. He has to run to the place where the enemy lives that he was destined to kill to hide for a little while. The Bible says that when he got there, they recognized him. They were like, "This is the dude who killed Goliath. This is that little boy who was keeping sheep and came up with a sling and a stone". Your enemy recognizes you. Your enemy knows what you're capable of sometimes more than you do. They said, "This is David. What's he doing here"? He was trying to hide out, get some cover, buy some time to figure out what God was going to do next. They said, "This is David". David was like, "Oh no. I'm in trouble. They know who I am".

So watch what he did to get away. This is in 1 Samuel, chapter 21. I have to show you what it looks like to really trust God. "David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish…" Achish is not a name; Achish is a title. It's like pharaoh, or something like that, for the Philistine rulers. "[He] was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath". Watch what he did. He sought the Lord. "So he pretended to be insane in their presence…" Repeat after me. "David went crazy". "I will bless the Lord at all times-eth". This is David blessing the Lord. Watch King David. "…and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard". I thought about acting this out. I prayed about it. The Lord said, "Let them use their imagination occasionally".

Do you get the picture? He's running from Saul, and he's seeking the Lord with saliva running down his beard. He's scratching the door, trying to get out of a situation he really doesn't have an answer for yet. I felt compelled to show you that picture for several reasons. First, you feel like you're going crazy right now. Not everybody, but some of you. So, when we sing, "I sought the Lord, and he heard," you are not yet sure about "He heard," and to be honest, you're really not sure if you're seeking him, because sometimes you don't feel like you're seeking him. Not everybody who listens to me preach has a three-hour prayer time every morning. Not everybody who listens to me preach quotes the Bible in Hebrew acrostics. Not everybody who listens to me preach goes home and listens to Elevation Worship as they walk around the kitchen, blessing the Lord at all times.

Even this morning, I was pretty tired, so on my way to church, I listened to Metallica. Sorry. I needed something to wake me up. Just one song, and then I switched to worship. I needed James Hetfield to get me started. I'm sorry. I just needed energy. It was early, and I'm low on sleep. It helped me. I'm telling you that because sometimes we talk so fancy about faith. "I sought the Lord". Did you? Or it's guilt. The Enemy is like, "You're not seeking God. You don't pray enough. You don't worship enough. You don't praise him enough. You don't really love him". David has spit in his beard in enemy territory, and he's talking about, "I sought the Lord". So, before you get ashamed of the fact that sometimes it feels like you're losing your mind, can we celebrate the fact that at least you're losing it in church? At least you're losing it in a room with some other crazy Christians on a Sunday morning when it was raining just enough to tell you, "I'm not going," but you said, "No. I'm going. I'm not going crazy without God".

Don't you love knowing that? You know what? Sometimes in my life I have found that it is when I am in the sloppiest, the most scrambled… They used to say I preach better jetlagged. I said, "I wonder why that is". Because my mind wasn't in the way so much, because I would just let it come from the Spirit. Then they'd say, "Well, just let the Spirit flow through you". Easier said than done. I think seeking God is like that sometimes. The question becomes, when we say, "I sought the Lord," what does sought even mean? It doesn't mean just that I went to church. It doesn't mean just that I sang a song. It doesn't mean just that I quoted a Bible verse. It doesn't mean just that I had a wish. It doesn't mean just that I made it a prayer request. It doesn't mean just that I had a desire. It means something very different to David, because he wrote that about a situation where spit was running down his beard, and he had no idea what was next.

That's where some of you are today. When you go to pray about it, you don't really feel like you get a clear answer. There are some things that you're singing, "I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered," and there are some things that you're singing, "I sought the Lord, and I hope he heard, but right now I don't see any evidence to support the conclusion that he heard". When Jesus was asleep on the boat, and they said, "Master, don't you care"? it lets me know there will be times in my life where it will appear that he doesn't hear me, and I will conclude that he doesn't care. But in some of these spaces, your seeking is defined by what you do in the space between when you seek him and when he says, "Yes".

So, if you are there today, and it's not a pretty situation, the psalmist wants you to know one of the most beautiful psalms in the Bible came from one of the ugliest situations. Some of the most beautiful testimonies you will have in your life, where you will be singing two years from now, "I sought the Lord… Back in April 2023, I was standing in church singing, 'I sought the Lord.' I was seeking him, but I couldn't see him. I was groping, but I couldn't feel him. I was stretching my hands in faith, but I didn't feel it. I sought him, and there was a space…" For David, there was a seven-year space. Did you hear what I just said? Not seven minutes, not seven months…seven years that Saul chased him, seven years that he made his home in caves, seven years that he dealt with depression.

You say, "David wasn't depressed. He blessed the Lord at all times". Thank God I have a Bible and don't have to go off one little verse. Look at what David did one time. He ran to the king of Gath. He let spit run down his beard, so the king let him go. A period of five more years elapses. Saul is still chasing him. Three times David has the opportunity to take matters in his own hands and kill Saul, but he won't do it because he trusts in God. Three times he could take him out, but he doesn't do it because he said, "I trust in God". He's not saying, "I trust in God," meaning, "I never feel fear". He told you, "I had fear that disturbed me to my core". It wasn't a feeling of trust; it was a decision of trust. It was a decision to keep doing it God's way despite the evidence that God's way wasn't working.

So, it has been seven years he has been running from this guy. It has been three times he was close enough to kill him. One time he caught Saul going to the bathroom in a cave. That is a vulnerable position to be in. I don't know, man. For me, I probably would have just ended it right there. If I see the king who has been trying to kill me, and he's in the process of relieving himself, I am going to relieve him of his duties as king and kill him so I can get some relief from the situation. But David said, "I trust God. It has to be his timing. It has to be his way. It has to be his route. It has to be his means. It has to be his strength. It has to be his power. I'm not going to do this David's way; I'm going to do it God's way, because if it's God's will, if it's God's hand, if it's God's favor, then I can have God's strength to support me as I go through each season. I trust in God".

Talk about ugly trust. You're in a cave with a king who is defecating while he is trying to decapitate you, and you have the opportunity to kill him, but you walk away. One time he stole Saul's water jug and spear just to show him, "I could kill you, but I didn't. Leave me alone. Why do you keep messing with me? Why do you keep doing this"? Saul shouts back to him, "Oh, David, thank you so much for sparing my life. You're going to do great things". Nothing like encouragement from somebody who tracked you out into the desert to kill you. That'll bless you. "God is going to do great things through you, David".

Look at what the Bible says about David who trusts in God. Hey, I'm trying to bring you into a conversation today to let you know this trusting God thing is trickier than it sounds on the surface and that none of us totally trust God all the time like we wish we did, that all of us have this back-and-forth battle. If I can't get you to see anything other than that today, I did my job, because when you go into those moments where you toggle between trusting God and having a… I don't know what you call these moments, but I call these moments humanity. I don't call these moments moments of weakness anymore; I call them moments of humanity. They don't mean I don't love God, and these moments don't mean I don't trust him, but we're in a world where we're having to figure things out step-by-step, and faith is not always fancy. I don't always seeketh him-eth. I don't always have a King James courage.

Sometimes I'm caught in conflict, this or that or the other. "Okay, God. Maybe it's option C". So, I just want to bring you up to date with what it means when he says, "I sought the Lord, and he heard, and delivered me from all my fears". When Saul told David after seven years of David running… He said, "God is going to do great things for you, David. You're a better man than me. Thank you for not killing me". Look at what David did. First Samuel 27:1: "But David thought to himself, 'One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.'" Read it again. He thought to himself, "Saul is going to kill me". The same guy who said, "I sought the Lord, and he answered," thought to himself, "I'm going to die".

What have you been thinking to yourself? I am not done with that verse. Put it back on the screen. They're trying to take me out of this Scripture so quickly today. Let's stay here a minute. I'm not scared of the uncomfortable silence. Are you? Y'all don't intimidate me, looking at me like you always seek the Lord. I know you don't. I know you seek some other stuff too in some other places. Don't make me prophesy. I will get specific. The Lord will show me. You've been seeking some food in the pantry, stress eating at night, seeking some comfort on some different websites and stuff too. But I want you to know something about all of that. I don't say that to shame you. I say that to show you that famous David, spear-dodging David, got to a point of seven years of waiting where he thought to himself, "One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul".

This phrase… O God, this is why I got up here today. This is why I flew in late and got up early and listened to Metallica to preach to you. Y'all didn't like that I listened to Metallica. I could tell you were judging me. I don't care. I sought the Lord. Watch me. "David thought to himself, 'One of these days I will be destroyed…'" "I will bless the Lord at all times". "David thought to himself, 'One of these days…'" "His praise shall continually…" It's kind of hard for God's praise to continually be in my mouth when this guy keeps trying to kill me. It's kind of hard for God's praise to be in my mouth when my life keeps going backward. It's kind of hard for God's praise to be in my mouth right now. That's okay. David thought to himself, "One of these days…" I know we have a lot of thoughts about the future.

You know, "One of these days, this is going to catch up with me. I can't keep doing this. I can't keep going like this. I can't keep holding out like this. I'm doing pretty good right now, but I can't keep running like this. I can't keep pretending like everything is okay". David thought to himself, "This does not end well for me". How could you think that, David? You have the promise of God. How could you think that, David? You have the oil of the anointing from the prophet Samuel that was on you. Don't you remember? He said he would raise you up. How can you think that, David? Because seeking God doesn't mean you will never think fearful thoughts. Seeking God does not mean you will never feel like you're going crazy.

The truth is nobody knows what you really go through. Nobody knows what you really push through. Nobody knows all of the things you didn't say that would have been worse than the thing you said that you had to apologize for. Nobody really knows how crazy it gets, how close you came to quitting, how much you struggle with feeling like enough, how hard it has been for you to fight for these 14 months of sobriety, how hard it has been for you to continue to go home to a situation where you're underappreciated and a job where you're undervalued. Nobody knows, but he heard. When you cried, he heard. When you prayed, he heard. When you said, "I can't," he said, "I can". He heard!

What a word for somebody who has felt like you're going crazy. You're not going crazy; you're building faith. You're getting strong in your spirit. You're getting strong in your beliefs. You're learning to walk not by what you see but by what God spoke. "But David thought to himself, 'One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.'" The fear is real. When he says, "He delivered me from all my fear," he doesn't mean, "He kept me from feeling it". It was on a loop in his head. He thought to himself… The language means he continued thinking. He didn't think this once; he thought it so many times he began to believe that the lie was true. Saul couldn't kill him because God had crowned him. Who needed to hear that? Saul can't kill you. God called you.

Do you know what the Bible says? It says, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that he may lift you up in due time". But it has been seven years, and David doesn't see a clear path to what God has committed to him. So he thought to himself, "One day Saul is going to kill me". And here's the phrase: "The best thing I can do…" What this means is David's situation is not ideal, and yours may not be either. You're looking at a range of options where you really want God to do this, but it's not happening. So, David says, "The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines". That's not where he wanted to be. It's just the place he had to go for now. I don't know how God is going to deal with Saul. Some of you are awaiting legal verdicts right now. Some of you are awaiting resolution to relational situations. Some of you are waiting to see if you're going to have to move or not. Some of you are waiting to see what the doctor says in three weeks.

So I wanted to get this in your spirit as a new way to look at what it means to seek the Lord. To seek the Lord doesn't mean you will know exactly what he's going to do every step along the way. David said, "The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand". Is it possible that David, in this moment, isn't even really sure where God's hand is working, but all he knows is, "I've got to get out of here"? When he says, "I sought the Lord," he's referring back to this incident where he had to go to the Philistines, the enemies he wanted to kill, and live with them for a season while he waited for God to do what he had promised to do. Is it possible that you are in a season right now where you're seeking the Lord, but he hasn't exactly shown you what's going to happen in a sequence of events that you can logically understand?

So, the word of the Lord for you is…What is the next best thing for you to do? The next best thing. For David, what he really wanted was to be the leader of Israel, but sometimes you can't do exactly what you want to do. Sometimes the will God has for you is still in the process of unfolding. Sometimes the person you're supposed to marry hasn't even moved to Charlotte yet. Sometimes the job you're supposed to have isn't even open yet. So, you get rejected three times for jobs you think you'd be a perfect fit for, but the truth is, if you got that job, it would become a snare to you for the door that God is going to open. I'm talking about trusting him. I'm talking about "I sought the Lord, and there was a space. I didn't know if he heard".

So what did David do? The next best thing. "I would love to be fighting Saul's battles right now. I would love to be killing Philistines, like I did with Goliath". "I would love to be taking my kids to school every day, but I only get to see them every other weekend right now. So, when I get them every other weekend, I'm going to make that count, because that's the next best thing". "I would love to have somebody to take long walks on the beach with, but I don't have somebody, and I don't have a beach, so I'm going to get on this treadmill and get a podcast and take myself on a walk, because that's the next best thing".

"I would love to have a healed body right now so I could be in church with Pastor Steven, but right now I can't leave the house because I'm confined to this bed, but I'm going to lift my hands, because even though I can't get out of this bed, I'm going to do the next best thing". "I would love to be farther along in my finances by now, but I didn't save in that season because nobody taught me, but I trust in God, and I've never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread, so I'm going to do the next best thing. I'm going to give him what I've got and trust him with what I'm not. I will bless the Lord at all times…good times, bad times"! Ask Paul and Silas. "I'd love to be out of this prison, but they haven't released me yet, so let's do the next best thing. You praise him on the first verse. I'll praise him on the second verse. You sing the chorus. I'll sing the bridge. I'm going to do what he gave me to do with what I've got to do it".

Yes, sir! The next best thing for you. That's all you have to do. You don't have to figure out the next 50 things. That's God's job. He said, "You're fired from trying to be God". I just want you to think about it. What's the next best thing you can do? Go complain about it or praise him like he already knows? What's the next best thing? "I sought the Lord. Oh, it wasn't pretty. My fears were terrible". The word fears that he uses is only used three other times in the Bible. It is a state so intense it's only used three times in the Bible. It means horror. He said, "I was in a horrible place, a lonely place, an isolated place".

I was talking to a brother yesterday. He said, "I'm creative, but I can't find anybody to collaborate with". I wanted to tell him, "Well, the next best thing is going to be you have to open up some kind of app on your phone and just start collaborating with your phone". Y'all don't want me to teach this. We want "magic wand" God. We want "I sought the Lord, and he heard". But sometimes… Should I do it? I can save it. I plan to be here next week. I can save it. Do you want it now or do you want it next week? Do you want it right now while I'm freshly anointed with this Holy Spirit to break a chain off of you, going, "I can't go here. I can't go there. I don't have a degree. I can't start the business. I can't get out of the contract. I shouldn't have signed the lease".

Why don't you just turn the apartment you're in into a habitation of a holy God while you wait on another one to come? The next best thing for you to do is connected to the next thing God is going to do that you don't even know about yet. God killed Saul. David didn't have to. Oh, it's better than that. You don't even know how good God is. Saul fell on his own sword. So, you do the next right thing. You have integrity. You have character. You just move on. You forgive. You be bigger than that. Don't go back and forth with Saul. What a word. It's hard for me to preach it to you while the Holy Spirit is still giving it to me. I'm just trying to decide, "Lord, what should be said out loud and what should I ponder"? He said, "They don't know the power of what they're singing when they say, 'I sought the Lord.' They think that's what they're doing only in church right now".

This "seeking the Lord" thing is sometimes going to look like you spitting and scratching. Nobody really knows what it's like to be on those tours except Holly. Nobody knows what it's really like to look up at an arena full of people and go, "Jesus, this is wonderful, and I'm terrified," except the woman who was back there with me two hours before when I was saying, "It feels like razor blades in my vocal cords, and I don't want these people to feel cheated tonight. I don't want it to feel stale tonight. I don't feel like I have the energy". Sometimes before you preach you feel like you get the flu, but it's not in your body; it's in your mind. For her to be with me… She'll say, "Come over here".

Sometimes she'll just put her hand on my shoulder, and sometimes she'll press strength into my mind. I know we're supposed to be better than that. We're supposed to float on the stage on a cloud of shekinah glory, but sometimes I'm scribbling and scratching and spitting just like you, but I'm seeking him. David thought to himself, "Saul is going to kill me," but he kept seeking God even while he was thinking crazy stuff to himself. That's what I want you to do, church. I want you to say, "I sought the Lord, and I sought him again. I sought him even as I thought he didn't hear me, even as the Devil told me, 'You're never going to be free from this. Your dad did it, his dad did it, and you will die an alcoholic too.'"

Even while you are thinking that to yourself, you do the next best thing. That's all you have to do. I promise you I'm giving you a testimony. I saw it in my family. I saw it when my dad was dying of ALS. I wanted God to heal him. God didn't heal him. I wanted to take care of him. That didn't work out. For two years, I couldn't take care of him. My mom was taking care of him. He became abusive toward her, so we had to put him in a nursing home, and he was way too young to be in that nursing home. I was crushed the day I walked in and he was calling bingo in a nursing home when I knew I wanted him down the street with my mom. But they couldn't be together. It wasn't safe for her.

So, why were we doing a Thanksgiving dinner in a nursing home with my dad while he was dying with an uncertain time limit left? Why were we eating a microwave meal off of paper plates in a nursing home with a man who was in his 60s? That wasn't what I wanted. It was the next best thing. That's what it means to seek him. It's such a good quote. He said that faith doesn't show you the whole staircase, just enough to take the next step, the next best thing. Yeah, just like that. Just like that. Watch this. It's going to be ugly sometimes. Every prayer is not going to be pretty. Every prayer isn't going to happen in church. Every faith experience isn't going to happen in a controlled environment, but the Bible says to humble yourself under his hand, because Saul's hand is nothing compared to his hand. First Peter 5:6 says, "In due time, he will lift you up".

One next best thing at a time. That's how he's going to bring you out. Ugly trust. Spitty beard trust. Crust in your eyes but went anyway, tears on your pillow, sleepless nights, but I'm not giving up on God. Ugly trust. Do you know what that means to me…ugly? It means trusting God until God lifts you. In due time, he raised David up, but in the meantime, David had to go to a place that he didn't want to be. Who is this I'm preaching to who is in an "until God lifts you" place? Humble yourself and seek him.

Stand all over the room. Lift your hands to your Father. He said, "I will bless the Lord at all times". When Saul's spears are flying, when my heart is breaking, when answers don't come easily… "I will bless the Lord at all times". This is ugly trust. Some of you need to have… You know how they have "ugly cry"? Some of you all need to have ugly praise. Just like, "God, this is what it looks like for our family right now. Even right now, my whole family isn't in church with me. Even right now, I can't get everybody together. Even right now, I can't get everything worked out, but my hands are lifted". Lift them up. This is ugly trust, because he said, "I will bless the Lord at all times. O magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt…"

What does exalt mean? To lift him up. So, until he lifts you up, what do you do? Lift him up. I want you to begin to lift him up right now in your heart. I want you to begin to praise him right now with your own mouth. "I will bless the Lord at all times. I trust you, God. I trust you with my future. I trust you with my family. I trust you with my children. God, I trust you with this decision. I trust you with this economy. I trust you with this move. I trust you with this transition". Come on and lift him up. Lift him up. This is ugly trust. It doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to be in alphabetical order. It doesn't have to be King James English. Just say, "I need you, God. I trust you, God. Here's my life, Lord. Here are my dreams, Lord. Here's my heart, Lord. It's yours, Lord".

I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered, I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered, I sought the Lord, and he heard, and he answered, That's why I trust him. That's why. Look at me. I don't trust him because of how long it took him to answer it. I don't trust him because he answered it when I wanted him to answer it. I don't trust him because he answered it how I wanted him to answer it. I trust him because he is God, and he is the highest, and he is the greatest. I'm going to seek him as long as it takes, and I'm not letting go of the word he spoke.
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