Friday, February 16, 2001

"Do you trust me?"

Way, way back when our oldest daughter, Carissa, was a mere toddler, I used to play a game with her. On cold days following worship, I would sit her on the top of the hat rack in the lobby of the church I pastored in Beaver, PA to bundle her up. It was easier. Because she was up high, she wouldn't squirm as much while I wrestled her into hat, coat and mittens. (Now, to those of you who are thinking I was cruel father, putting my daughter in danger, let me assure you that she was safe. Sheila would have killed ME!) After she looked like Charlie Brown ready to play in the snow, I would step back. She would hold out her arms and stare at me. "Do you trust me?" I would ask. "Yes" she would reply in her little toddler voice. "Then jump! I promise I will catch you." Since I was a step away, she could not bring herself to do it. She said she trusted me… but there was a limit to that trust.

"C'mon," I would coax her. "I'm your dad. I would never let you fall. I'm strong and you can trust me. Now, jump!" From that distance, she would not do it. So I moved a little bit closer. As I did, she would lean toward me, expecting me to reach up and grab her. Realizing I was not coming quite close enough, she would pull back. Again, "Do you trust me? Then jump! I PROMISE I will catch you. You have nothing to be afraid of." She would try to reach me, to touch me, but could not quite make the stretch. And she'd pull back. She would not leave the safety of the hat rack.

Finally, I would move close enough that she could lean to within a few inches. "Do you trust me?" I would ask again. "Then jump into my arms!" And she would. She could trust her dad with those few inches. I would pull her tight, hug her and tell her, "You can trust me. I would never, ever, ever, ever let you fall." As time went on, she would jump from greater and greater distances. Sometimes trust takes time and experience to kick in.


One of my favorite scenes in moviedom is when Indiana Jones comes to a seemingly impassable chasm while attempting to retrieve the Holy Grail to save his father. He looks down in terror, knowing he has only a few minutes to reach the other side before his father dies. The only clue he has to work with is, "The man of God will walk by faith." He recognizes the implication: he must step out into thin air and trust something good will happen. Indiana closes his eyes, lifts one foot and steps into the cavern. Instead of tumbling to the bottom, his foot lands on solid ground. The bridge is disguised to look like the ravine. He throws dirt on to the bridge so he can see it and quickly crosses over. A moment of faith changed everything.


That was the question facing Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew that only a few hours separated Him from a Roman cross. He had seen people crucified. He knew the agony of the physical pain because He had watched men hang exposed for days. He also knew the agony of shouldering the pain of all of mankind's sin awaiting Him -- being cut off from the Father. Crying out to His Dad, He begged for another plan. "Do you trust me?" were the words God seemed to be saying. "Do you trust me in My plan? Do you trust me in your pain? Do you trust me that it will be better on the other side? Do you trust me to raise you to life?" He did, and it changed EVERYTHING. For Him. For you. For me. For the world now and forever.


It's pretty easy to trust God when He is within inches of us as we sit on the hat racks of life. When leaping into His arms is a fairly guaranteed deal. When there's not much chance He can or will pull away. It's a much different proposition when He's across the room, we're stuck on the hat rack, no one else is around and there is not ladder in the building. And He says, "Jump!" from 20 feet away. In those times it seems that God is just not making sense. And there's no possible way He can catch us. And He's not answering our pleas for explanations. And we're in pain. And the janitors are turning out the lights. And no one else has to sit on the hat rack or jump. And we've got lots of reasons, facts and proven studies of why it is not healthy to jump. And God doesn't seem to want to hear any of it, He just wants us to jump.


It isn't trust if Carissa can grab me before she leaves the hat rack. It isn't trust if Indiana can see the bridge before he steps. It isn't trust for Jesus if there is no cross, no pain, no death, no separation from the Father and no resurrection. And it isn't trust for us if we don't obey even when it doesn't make sense. But in every case, it is better after the making the leap of trust than it was before. Carissa's safety and security in my arms, Indiana's healing of his father, Jesus' glory. And for you – intimacy with God and experiencing Him work in our lives in ways we cannot see.


Whatever you're facing, trust God. Listen carefully for His voice, (don't you dare jump until you hear His instructions. There's a difference between obedient trust and stupidity.) But once you hear His voice, jump! God WANTS to, LONGS to catch you. Refuse to give into the human desire to be in control, to trust yourself. Just jump. Close your eyes if you have to, but leap! It is always better on the other side. It may take a while to get there, but you'll be glad you did as you feel the strong, loving arms of your Heavenly Dad envelop you. Hold you. Protect you. Reassure you. Love you.

Otherwise you may be sitting on the hat rack for the rest of your life.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

"And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans." Romans 8:28 (TLB)

"for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power." Philippians 4:13 (TLB)

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