Our son is a freshman in college and like most who leave home for the first time and experiment with independence, meet new friends & experience new living conditions and expectations, he’s had what Brennan Manning calls his share of “falling downs and getting ups.” Manning called his own life “one ragged journey of” those falling downs and getting ups, but thankfully, our son has had only periodic slips and spills.
As a college student myself – heck, as a person on this planet!, I’ve done the same. My journey hasn’t been what I would call ragged, but I’ve had ragged years and ragged emotional episodes – more frequently than I’d like to admit. Of course I can look back and see God’s hand in my life, but I scratch my head sometime at injustices, inequities and just plain confusing events. In writing about Trusting God over the first 10 months of this year, I learned some valuable things, but also still have those moments where I’m left wondering what He’s doing.
That’s where trust comes in, but Trusting God becomes more challenging when you can’t see what He’s doing or feel you’re taking too many dings on the journey. Those who feel like they fall down more than they get up have a harder time trusting God and that makes sense because we often make our lives about us. When we fret, stew and complain about our lives, what we’re really saying it we’re not happy with how it is affecting us. Like, if we had some control, we’d sure do things differently, we wouldn’t hurt so badly, life would be more fair and voila! a natural outcome would be an ease in trusting God. That’s what He wants, isn’t it?
I imagine Him saying, “Awww,,,isn’t she cute? She really thinks that’s how I work?” Yeah. It’s true that the shadow of the cross falls across our lives in many forms and we’re left saying, “Really God? This is what you want for my life?” Then the seeds of mistrust get sown and the warehouse of worry starts cranking out anxious thoughts and we ask, “How could He let this happen?” But what a narrow view that is. The consensus of the great spiritual writers I read in preparing for writing my talks all say that it requires heroic courage to trust in the love of God despite the events of our lives. Some days it might feel like more than we have within us to do, but it takes a surrender to say yes to Jesus’ command to “Trust God and trust in [him].”
The odds are pretty good that in the years that I have left here, I’ll continue falling down. Sometimes I battle trust. My mind does, anyway. But is that really necessary? I think it’s kind of unnecessary, actually. Trust isn’t self-generated so there’s no reason to beat myself up if I feel like I don’t trust enough. What I can do instead is surrender to the events of my life, knowing that they’re all in His will for it. Since I’m a girl who likes to have things to do, I assign myself these tasks then: pay attention to His faithfulness, remember that He keeps His promises and when I’ve checked those off my list each day, I’ll be ushered into a trust that God gives to me. And I can do that with boundless confidence and no reservations.
So bring on the banana peels! I know I’m going to fall down, but He certainly won’t allow me to stay down. Thanks, God!!