Several years ago I got what I took to be a revelation from God about trust. That is, that it must be given before it can be earned. Though we may by observation deem someone worthy of our trust before committing to them, we can only truly know whether that assessment was merited after we have done so. There is only one person who can be said to have earned our trust before we give it. That is Jesus, who has already given everything for us. Yet there may be no one we are less likely to trust because we can neither see Him nor fully know Him while we remain on the earth.
I’ve been thinking lately about the meaning of trust. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary contains fourteen entries for the word. The first two read in part:
It goes on, explaining as dictionaries do the many ways in which the word is used, but I think we can simplify the definition as it pertains to human relations. To trust is to place something of value in the care of another. As a noun it represents the faith we have that the other will value what we have entrusted to them as we do. This thing of value may be tangible like money or intangible like our emotional well being.
What does it mean to trust God, whom most of us know primarily by the evidence He has provided rather than definite experience? The evidence is strong. The more I study the Bible the greater my small faith grows as I see the miraculous cohesion between its many parts written over thousands of years. I firmly believe it is the truth and the means by which we can begin to know and trust its ultimate author. Despite that certainty I can claim little personal experience with Him. I have learned not to trust myself, so those emotional highs I used to interpret as God’s affirmation no longer serve as proof of His interaction with me. Though I continue to reject the idea that all He will give us in this age is the Bible for guidance, meaning he speaks and acts overtly no more, I can claim no personal experience that supports my belief. I must rely on the experience of others whose integrity I do not doubt.
I am still left with the question, what does it mean for me to trust in God? I believe the Bible is the source of truth. I do not believe in my ability to understand everything it tells me. If there is any question, I find the answer that suits me best or else I hide behind the ambiguity. I believe in His love and have made my life’s quest to understand it, but all I can say that I have learned is how far I am from that understanding and that evidence in my own life.
But somehow I do trust Him. If not to the degree that I ought, certainly enough that I expect to see Him when I die. Not that I don’t doubt even that when I get too focused on my own failure, which I do a lot. Somehow in my darkest hours I long for Him and know that He is there. I may wonder at it because my mind cannot conceive of that much mercy, but I still know that I belong to Him.
He is faithful. Despite my intent to rejoice today, I quickly fell into the depression that has been especially heavy over the past few weeks. This blog entry began this morning from my struggle to understand the meaning of trust in all of my relationships, but especially with God. I can’t help thinking that if I had made full use of everything I’ve been given, I would be in a very different place today. I don’t know exactly what that place would be; I’m just sure it isn’t where I am.
Our church brought in a guest speaker this weekend, Bob Sorge. I think he may have spoken at Hillcrest church when I was there, but if so I did not attend that day. I had only heard his story through my wife. She was excited to have him come. I was just this side of apathetic. I thought it might help the church out a little so I went along with the preparation. I thought just maybe he would inspire us and maybe even me. My wife will tell you I don’t impress easily. J
Mr. Sorge is a pastor who almost completely lost his voice due to a botched surgery. Out of that experience has come a message of hope for all who suffer. Yahweh used his message today to help me see my situation in a different light. Using Job, and John chapter nine among others, he illustrated God’s roll in suffering. I recently wrote in my private journal how it was time for me to give up forever the idea that I could do anything that obligated Him to do what I asked. I started this entry writing about the meaning of trust. It’s time for me to trust Yahweh with my eyes. If He answers my plea and heals them I will trust Him. If he tells me I must wait until I look upon Him with new eyes, I will trust Him. If he tells me nothing at all, I will trust him. Echoing what Pastor Sorge said today, you may say that I lack faith. I’ll tell you what he told us. You’re right. I can never have enough faith. I must constantly go to the One who is faithful and learn faith. It grows from reading His word and from spending time in His service. I cannot say that God must earn my trust. He has already paid for my whole life. I can say that I must learn to give him my trust so that He can prove his trustworthiness. I must give it before I can see it.
What does that mean on a practical level? I must turn over to Him all that is of value to me. He gave it to me in the first place. I must love like He loves, trusting Him with my heart. I must give like He gives, trusting Him with my physical well being. I must do what he says, trusting that any hardship is temporary and not to be compared with the glory to come. I have a long, long way to go, but I choose to trust Him to take me there one step at a time. I fall upon His mercy, and He sets me on the path again.
This is not the most coherent piece I’ve ever written, in part because there was a big gap between the beginning and the end. God used that interval to completely change my perspective. I thought about scrapping the entry entirely and reworking it from the top, but I think it’s sort of tied together. I’ll be posting the audio for today on the Bartimaeus Baptist Temple web site sometime this week. It’s not a good quality recording on any day because I do it with a digital recorder from the front row, but I think it’s going to come out ok and I think it will really bless you. Keep an eye on the site for it. We had a wonderful time with Pastor Sorge. He has a sweet spirit and a big heart. We loved him instantly. If you get the chance to meet or hear him speak, take it. I haven’t personally read his books because they aren’t in an easily accessible format for me, but he promised to help change that too. I look forward to reading them. Check out his site.