FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT 2 WEEKS, I’LL BE POSTING DAYBREAKS FROM THE ARCHIVES WHILE WE PREPARE AND MOVE TO GEORGIA:
From the DayBreaks archive dated 11/06/01:
First, a word of explanation: I am on a new “kick”. I suppose we all get on a kick from time to time, but this one has been especially meaningful for me in light of all that has happened in the past couple of months in our world, and in the past couple of years in my life. As a result, there are lots of things I look forward to sharing with you in these DayBreaks in the next 30-45 days. I will still try to mix it up a bit…but you’ve been forewarned, so sit down, strap in and hold on because we’re going on a journey together starting today!
In Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning told the following story: “When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at the ‘house of the dying’ in Calcutta, we was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Theresa. She asked, ‘And what can I do for you?’ Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States. “Pray that I have clarity.”
“She said firmly, ‘No, I will not do that.’ When he asked her why, she said, ‘Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’ When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, ‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’”
I have become more and more convinced that the secret of the Christian life lies in trust. Some may say this is a semantical argument, but I don’t think so. Some would say it is faith or life in the Spirit. Sure, but you can’t have faith in someone or something that you don’t trust. Faith and trust both grow over time with experience, but is in the dark nights of the soul that trust rules the roost.
Trust has been a bit hard to come by in the past few months. We used to trust in our safety in the workplace. That’s gone. We used to trust that our fellow-man was generally decent and law-abiding. But we don’t trust that quite so much any more. And where we once opened our mail without a second thought, we now look twice at postmarks and return addresses and suspicious bulges in envelopes, don’t we? Where we once felt relatively secure in our economy and our jobs, who among us hasn’t at least wondered a bit about if (and when) the pink slip might come our way?
I wrote not long ago about some of my struggles over the past couple of years and how I’ve seemingly reached the end of that dark tunnel. Many DayBreaks readers (perhaps more than for any other single DayBreaks) wrote in response to that message, sharing with me the depth of their own struggle and how (at times) it just doesn’t seem that God is there – that He is not holding up His end of the bargain. Believe me, I understand. I have felt exactly the same things. But there’s a problem here – we trust God when he acts the way we want Him to and when He is acting the way that we would expect Him to act (based on our human “wisdom”), but it is much more difficult when He doesn’t act in the way we would prescribe. I believe, however, that part of our problem is that we have a misconception about trust. Once again, Brennan Manning (in the same book quoted above) suggested: “We often presume that trust will dispel the confusion, illuminate the darkness, vanquish the uncertainty and redeem the times. But the crowd of witnesses in Hebrews 11 testifies that this is not the case. Our trust does not bring final clarity on this earth. It does not still the chaos or dull the pain or provide a crutch. When all else is unclear, the heart of trust says, as Jesus did on the cross, ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ (Luke 23:46).”
When some of you wrote me, you suggested you were having a hard time trusting God because things were still a mess in your lives – perhaps after spending years in the pain and anguish. You’re in good company – the roll call of the faithful in Hebrews 11!!! Hebrews 11:13-17 tells us: “13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Can we be really honest with each other for just a second? All of our lives are a mess. We have all languished in the darkness to varying degrees. Even these heroes of the faith did. Read Jeremiah and then tell me that you think his life was peaches and cream. Or King David. Or the apostle Paul. Don’t miss what the passage from Hebrews is saying: “THEY DID NOT RECEIVE THE THINGS PROMISED; THEY ONLY SAW THEM AND WELCOMED THEM FROM A DISTANCE.” They didn’t get clarity in their day-to-day life, other than to know that they longed for a “better country” and they trusted that if it existed, it would be God that held the key to getting there. That is trust, and trust is what gave them the ability to endure the horrific things listed in the rest of Hebrews 11. If trust worked for them, I have a hunch that if we understand it properly that it will work for us, too. It’s not a magic elixir, it won’t likely bring daily clarity, and you can’t produce it on your own. But trust happens!
Let’s take a journey together and explore this thing called trust. I’m convinced it is the key to the Christian life – to our strength, our humility and our ability to persevere!
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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