Pleasing God vs. Trusting God

Pleasing God vs. Trusting God

It was a Sunday morning and the sound of a push notification chimed on my cell phone. Not unusual for a Sunday morning, as the chime reminds me when it’s time for the live sermon of a pastor’s teaching that I follow.

His sermons always catch my attention, challenge me, help me dig deeper … but this morning’s topic caused me to pause: Pleasing Jesus vs. Trusting Jesus. Wait. What? Aren’t I pleasing Jesus by trusting Him? Isn’t working hard to live as He would desire a trait the Good Shepherd seeks in His sheep?

And then I heard more: He referenced Bruce McNicol’s book, TrueFaced, and an illustration McNicol uses about hiking on a trail through a wooded forest. When the hiker comes to a Y on the path, there’s a definite choice between the two directions. McNicol emphasizes the hiker must choose: the Pleasing God path or the Trusting God path. Again, I paused. Which path did I want to take – pleasing Jesus or trusting Jesus?

This pastor provided illustration after illustration of what the hiker encountered when choosing the Pleasing Jesus path. It soon became Trying Trail. It didn’t matter whether the topic was about raising children or donating to the church or reading the Bible, the variety of suggestions left the hiker confused and unsure of how to proceed to truly please Jesus.

Frustrated and discouraged, the hiker turned and hiked back to the Y on the path, deciding to try the Trusting Jesus path instead. It was there the hiker met the Good Shepherd. Jesus was excited to see the hiker, who quickly explained how frustrated and demoralized he was when he was on Trying Trail. The hiker asked Jesus why He would be found on Trusting Trail rather than Trying Trail. Jesus tells him that Trusting Trail is what the Christian life looks like. That the life that pleases Him is simple – it consists of Jesus asking the believer to do things and the believer trusting Jesus enough to do them!

Wait. What? You mean the Good Shepherd wants us to have complete confidence in Him and His plan? Big gulp…

The Christian life is a journey of walking with the Good Shepherd, trusting Him, and responding accordingly ... the same for the sheep today as it was for those sheep of long ago. By faith, Hebrews 11 tells us, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, and others trusted and acted accordingly.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whomever would draw
near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

Where are you being challenged to trust Jesus?


For Pete Briscoe’s sermon referenced above, “Stop Trying to Please God,” go to