I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately. With the advent season still fresh, all the hope-talk has forced me to question the state of my own hope and, by extension, my trust.
In a sweeping sense, I am sure of my hope that God is all about being good and working good. But when it comes to having to make a decision, potentially creating situations from which God has to work good, my hope seems to collide with my trust, creating a freak out spiral of fear and doubt.
I have to make an important decision soon. I have been accepted to two schools for my masters: Fuller’s satellite campus in Phoenix and Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. And, if I am going to be honest with you, I should tell you I have already made my decision but I am still struggling.
One reason is… the past has a sneaky cruel way of pissing on your future. The first time I moved away from home, I went to NAU. A hallway of closed doors arriving at a dead end is the best way I can think to explain it. Nothing clicked. Nothing life-giving came together.
When I think about leaving an irritating sensation settles in me, something akin to the discomfort of gas, the kind that has you doubled over and wanting to die. But the thing is, once you begin to let go of fear in some areas of your life, it opens you to an entirely new way of interacting with the world and the people in it. It disables a lot of the debilitating aspects of your past. The knowledge that who you were is not who you are affords a lot of comfort and freedom. But letting go of fear, and claiming your growth, also opens you to different ways of being pressed into trust and out of fear.
There is still a squeamish anxiety… I’m like a small child on the edge of a pier, surveying the depth of the ocean, refusing to sit, refusing to catapult myself from the solid beams beneath my naked feet. I doubt the strength in my limbs to carry me through the water. Will there be a floating scrap of wood or an island in this unknown expanse of blue? And what is to happen to the pier if I jump? Will it be tended to or disintegrate in the elements?
Gripping the edge I stand, not trusting my Maker for fair weather or for provision in bad—not enough to jump. So I just sort of stand there…shifting my weight. Sometimes the water doesn’t look so deep, so menacing. Sometimes it even looks inviting, welcoming. Other times the choppiness hammers the legs of the pier, gluing my frame in place. And how nice it would be for a shove or a chair rather than having to procure one or the other for myself…
This past August, my mom and I joined Valley Women’s Ensemble. After some senseless drama, my dad was asked to become THE main director rather than “guest conductor” or whatever he was before. As with most transitions, and especially when new leaders are given established groups, there are trust issues.
There were challenges getting everyone to watch and follow, and allow my dad to take liberties with the vocal line. Fundamentally, whether it was realized or not, the group was wrestling with trust: Do I trust my knowledge of the music or the director’s? If the director extends the value of the note, or decides to ritard, do I follow him or do I stare into the music and do only what it says? Making music is often about altering the score, which sometimes means a section will be different every time, so you have to watch the director for every cue.
It’s amazing then, what happens when you get your nose out of the music and follow the director. Even if you aren’t sure where he’s going and it’s different from how it’s been before. He knows the music intimately. More importantly, he knows where he is taking the line you’re singing and how it fits with every other moving piece.
We can spend too much time with our noses stuck in the music, with our minds trapped in our past experiences and our eyes fixed on the prospect of leaping. You can’t make music with your nose in the score or by never watching the one who leads you. You can’t live life in the Spirit if you’re focused on the looks of the water. The Spirit is never overcome by our circumstances, but overcomes our circumstances.
There is a beautiful scene in the animated movie, The Prince of Egypt, depicting the story of Moses. Every time I see the burning bush part my heart races, a knot develops in my throat and tugs tears from my eyes.
Moses follows a sheep into a cave and discovers a bush alight with a flame that neither burns nor consumes it. God calls to Moses and tells him, “And so, unto pharaoh, I shall send…you.”
Moses responds in fear and doubt, “Me? Wh-Who am I to lead these people? They’ll never believe me. They won’t even listen… I was their enemy. I was the prince of Egypt, the son of the man who slaughtered their children. You’ve– You’ve chosen the wrong messenger. H-How can I even speak to these people?”
In a whirl of wind, God interrupts Moses as the music reaches a climax, “Who made man’s mouth? Who made the deaf, the mute, the seeing or the blind? Did not I?”
My fear and doubt spiral makes me forget. This is the God in whom I place my trust.