“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge [God]
And [God] will make straight your paths.”
For those of us who have grown up in the church, trusting God may seem like a given. It’s just expected and assumed; like how eating is an assumed part of being a living human. Yet our childhood ideas of trust are often underdeveloped. As a child I trusted God to be like Santa (bring rewards or pleasant surprises). I trusted God to be like the parent ready to catch you when you jump into the swimming pool (prevent bad consequences). These views of trusting God hold the seeds of concepts like blessing and mercy that are good and need to be nurtured. Still, I wonder if there aren’t better visions of trust that could guide us now.
What does trusting God look like:
– During a global pandemic?
– When facing systemic oppression?
– During times of civil unrest?
– During unemployment?
– During hunger?
– When facing isolation, uncertainty and disappointment?
– During an election year?
– When every side is saying that God is for them and against everyone else?
My childhood views of trusting God placed “me” at the center of the story. I trusted God to adapt to my desires and my needs. God was on my side. That’s such a natural tendency for us all. We all interact with and experience the world through the lens of our own experience. We live our lives at the center of our own story by default. Yet, what if trusting God requires us to put God at the center?
Maybe the life of trust is not about assuming God will adapt to my needs and desires but opening myself up to the possibility that God can transform my needs and desires to align with God’s desires. That kind of trust is risky business. It requires that we open ourselves up to change. It demands vulnerability. It asks us to reimagine ourselves and our understanding of the world. It requires obedience and active response.
Who knows where it might lead:
– to the wilderness (Abraham and Sarah)
– to prison (Joseph)
– to the halls of power (Esther)
That’s the hard part isn’t it? That trusting God requires us to give up control. To truly trust God, I have to let go of the outcomes that I want. Santa might conform to my wish list each year but God isn’t bound by it. For many of us, Covid-19 has revealed that decentering ourselves is deeply uncomfortable work. Opening ourselves to the possibility of frustrated desires (trips not taken, graduation celebrations being different than expected, etc.) isn’t easy.
Still, who knows where God might be found?
– in a burning bush
– in parting waters
– in a fiery furnace
– in the lion’s den
– in a manger
– on a cross
So now we have a choice. Will we ask God to reveal God’s self to us, even if that revelation challenges who we want God to be? Will we ask God to transform us, to align us with God’s purposes in the world even if that challenges our understandings of ourselves? I caution you, God never comes as we expect. Yet the witness of God’s people throughout history is that God always comes.
And so, Dear One, I leave you with this blessing:
May God grant you the courage to trust the Lord with all your heart.
May God grant you peace in the midst of transformation.
May God grant you grace to recognize God at work in unexpected places, unlikely people, and unanticipated journeys.
May your life with God be exactly that: life with God.
May it be a wondrously beautiful adventure.