I remember as a child growing up in church and singing that old hymn “Trust and Obey.” Never have I understood the chorus of that hymn more than in my adult life now that I’ve seen the twists and turns our journey with God can take, and the scars we may carry. The chorus reads, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”
One of my favorite life verses is Proverbs 3:5 – 6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
This verse sums up that old hymn. Once I truly started trusting the Lord in bold ways and obeying Him (we can’t leave that obedience part out!), I started to get on a course for my life and make choices for God that made all my brokenness from the past make sense.
Over a decade ago, God called me out of a career in the theatre into full time ministry. I worked for a church in NYC in a job I loved. However, about a year in, I experienced a very deep and painful wounding from spiritual abuse of power from one of our pastors. Instead of seeking out tools to help me to deal with it in a healthy way, I ran. I ran from the job and I ran from my call to ministry. I was wounded and hurt and I did not trust God to heal my heart. Instead, I closed myself off to full time ministry and I literally told God “if this is what happens on a church staff, I’m never working at a church again.”
Looking back now after running for over a decade, I’m amazed at how gracious our God is to us even when we do not trust and obey. He was gracious to me and allowed me to go my own way for a while and start a new career. He put people in my life who eventually would help me to realize all the pain and roots of bitterness I carried around for years towards that pastor who hurt me. God also used those people to help give me tools to see my need for repentance and true healing. Once I opened up the tightened fists that I had developed towards full time ministry, I started to truly say and believe “God not MY will, but YOUR will be done in my life.” I stepped into a season of radical obedience to Him, saying “yes” to everything He asked me to do. And you know what? I am now in a season of full-time ministry, working as a pastor, and have never before been happier in Jesus! I also now see how God is using my past wounds and lessons from my disobedience to help encourage other women in their journey with God -- encouraging them to truly trust and obey Him, even when it is hard.
Trusting and obeying God, even in the seasons that are wrought with challenges, pain and difficulty, is the only way to live in the perfect will of our loving Father who has the very best plans for our lives. And lest we think that God cannot use our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful, I tell you He does… my journey is a living testament to that fact. He wants our whole heart though. We can trust Him with it and He will heal it, mend it and transform it when we give it to Him. Not only that, He will make our paths straight and set our lives on a beautiful course of living in His transformative grace and love.
~ Pastor Cathy Bruce
Cathy currently serves as a worship and teaching pastor at Hope Church NYC at their Midtown location. Prior to serving at Hope, Cathy was on staff at Journey Church NYC as a campus teaching pastor. In addition to full-time church ministry, Cathy has a diverse background, having performed on the Broadway stage, worked as a professional canine behavior consultant, and owned her own multi-site business. She is a graduate of 10K Fathers Worship School in Atlanta, holds a BFA in Music/Vocal Performance from the University of Missouri and is currently finishing a Master of Divinity degree at Northern Theological Seminary. Cathy is a licensed minister with the Evangelical Covenant Church and a speaker at multi-denominational women’s events in the Northeast. She lives in NYC with her husband, son, two dogs and cat!