God’s word for me this year is trust.
As I looked up Scripture passages that contain that word, I found that most of them are in the Old Testament. A similar word found in the New Testament is “faith.” Trust and faith have comparable meanings, but the word “trust” seems softer and perhaps more painful to me—not for any particular biblical or theological reasons. It just does.
Trust seems like gently leaning into the arms of God. It is the picture of a father trying to get his child to jump off the edge of the pool and imploring, “Trust me. I’ll catch you.” Good fathers would die before missing that catch. But it takes courage and trust to jump.
Another image of trust that I carry is that of a little girl holding her father’s hand in the middle of a crowded, noisy county fair. The child is in awe. The scent of popcorn and cotton candy fills the air. A calliope plays. People scream and squeal as they reach the top of the Ferris wheel or are dropped suddenly from some height in fearful delight. Hawkers sell their wares and barkers beg gazers to enter to see the unusual things behind the curtained doors.
Wide-eyed with wonder, the child holds her father’s hand tightly. Periodically she looks up to see where he’s pointing. “Look, at that,” he whispers as he bends low to speak into her ear above the noise. She stares in delight at a long-legged clown striding down the fairway.
Later, in answer to her questioning eyes and insistent tugs he says, “No, we can’t go in there.” Disappointment clouds her face.
He loves her, and she knows it with every fiber of her being. That doesn’t keep her from arguing or pouting when her father says “no” to the second cotton candy or when he steers her away from the alluring promises waiting behind the neon-lit black drapes.
Her pouting might even remove the joy from the rest of the evening.
I know that feeling as a child and as a mother who has witnessed the loss of joy over a disappointment—no money for crayons, a cancelled trip to McDonald’s, or a broken promise. Heck, I know it about myself as an adult. When I look back on the moping and all the life missed because of it, I wish I had had greater ability to let things go. I didn’t have the maturity as a child, and I’m still guilty of sulking and ruining life when things don’t go my way. I might grumble because life isn’t fair or my expectations aren’t met. I can become bitter because dreams aren’t fulfilled. Life is often very disappointing.
Trust means that I believe my Father loves me enough to keep me from danger and ill-conceived plans—even if it seems disappointing on the front end. He has promised to conform me into the image of Christ, and that’s not always like a holiday. It means putting my life into His grip when there is no guarantee that life will turn out like I imagine. I’ve run from God’s gentle grasp often enough to know the damage that happens when I rebel against the goodness of God because I’m mad at the plan.
“Do you trust me?” He whispers into my ears as I slam my eyes shut to the thing that I am longing for most. “I do, I do, I do,” I tremble in response, “hold me close, hold me close.” I need to be reminded that He is love and loves ME. He lifts me up. I listen to the beat of His heart.
He sets me on my feet and squats down to search my eyes. He cups my face. I open my eyes. I grab His neck, holding Him tightly as I cry away my honest longings and receive the love of glory and grace. “Let me show you what I want you to see down here,” He says as He stands up and entwines His fingers with mine. I lean my head sorrowfully against His arm as we walk. The ache travels with me, but I hold the hand of the dearest and kindest of Fathers—and He has something amazing behind the door at the end of the fairway.
Pleasure. Pain. Love. Disappointment. Hope.
This is trust.