Hands up, who else sang this in their head with an extended ‘s’, a la The Jungle Book’s Kaa? I’m glad it’s not just me.
Trust. Putting our faith in something. Maybe it’s a logical decision, maybe it’s based on prior experience, or maybe it’s just pure gut instinct. I trust my alarm will wake me up in the morning. I don’t trust I will stay awake. Trust is one of those abstract concepts. You know when it’s there, you know when it’s not, but sometimes you don’t know why it’s present or absent.
As adults we like to trust only ourselves with decisions. We prefer to have all the information displayed before us in order that we feel we have made an informed choice of our own. We base decisions on reason and fact, perhaps on recommendation from someone we, again, trust.
At work we trust our bosses because they are in authority over us. If they make a decision it is hard to question them. We might mutter or question their choices, trying to ascertain the reasoning behind their decisions but we are obliged to trust or to leave. And the same is true of churches.
As tiny children, we inquire whenever possible but trust implicitly. When we are told a fact, we trust it. When an adult tells us to do something, we (eventually) do it. When we ask why, we might be told it’s ‘because I say so’ or because ‘you just need to do as you’re told’. And along we go.
I wonder when that change occurs? The gradual shift from trust, to questioning, to needing all the facts before we decide.
When our trust is rewarded by someone doing as they said, or events happening, we are more willing to trust again.
After the events of the last four years I have had chance to exercise faith. How confidently I wrote two summers ago that I wondered what God would ask me to trust him in next. How cheerfully I felt that would be beautiful and I would throw myself headlong into that trust. After all, I have experience in trusting God. Everything God has promised (never to leave me or forsake me) happened. Everything I wanted did not.
I did not want this future. Firstly, I didn’t want to be divorced. Secondly, I never wanted a job in London or to perhaps one day move here. The fact I love my job perhaps shows I should trust God with what’s best for me. I’m holding that in tension with not losing trust in marriage and relationship because of my own experiences.
This is a battleground. I know what I want for my future. Trusting God with it is hard. I don’t want to relinquish it. I can often want to hold onto my dreams of marriage and children in my tight clenched, increasingly clammy hands, and not let God take hold of it. I have to peel back my fingers and let God take over the running of my finances. I need to be prudent, I also need to be trusting and generous.
Trusting someone means giving up the idea that you know better; it’s letting them make a decision for you. This is easy enough when it’s a route in the car (depending on who’s driving), but less easy with decisions that impact your life. When you don’t like their decision, back-seat driver or otherwise, the choice is there about whether to trust. Within relationships themselves, trust is a crucial element.
Our ability to trust comes with developed knowledge of what we’re trusting. If my alarm clock doesn’t go off, I’m less likely to trust it tomorrow. If a friend lets you down, you might be less likely to trust them again. I’ve never yet met an infallible human. The sad truth is that people let others down. I’m sure I do it myself, and I’m grateful for forgiveness when that happens. I can choose to extend forgiveness, and I can choose whether to trust again. Those are definitely distinct.
I’m grateful that despite the trust placed in me that I so often fall short of, God chooses to trust me with his ideas and plans. Unlike Kaa, God can be trusted. But the call is the same – trust in me, no hypnosis in this one, no coercion, it’s a decision only you can make – but my word is it worth it.