When I used to teach high school freshman Bible, one of my favorite activities happened during the section on trust in God. Instead of just discussing it, the boys would go and experience it. I would take them to the auditorium stage and have a courageous volunteer stand with his back facing the front of the stage. Then he would fall backwards into the arms of his classmates lined up below on the auditorium floor. There was a moment right after the falling started when it was instinctive to resist and pull back.The fear was real. If those peers didn’t catch him, he would hurt himself. The key was to hold his body straight, not controlling the outcome or trying to save himself. He had to trust his peers to catch him.
The idea of trust and the related terms faith and believe are strewn throughout the pages of Scripture. It is one of the first concepts any new follower of Christ learns. Trust implies letting go, refusing to save yourself, and allowing God to catch you and save you. It may sound simple, but it takes a lifetime to get the feel of it.
I should know. My whole life has been plagued with a resistance toward trusting God and others. Perhaps the main culprit was a foundational feeling I intuited from my teenage years: It’s up to me to fix myself and make myself into a man. It’s not that I resisted the idea of asking for help. It’s deeper than that. It just never occurred to me to ask and trust the love of others. The fix-it mentality hardened into an incredibly disciplined lifestyle in my 20s that received the accolades of my peers. But the hardening left my heart unavailable for others. Tragically, it also altered God’s love into a mere concept, divorced from experience.
As I have listened to the stories of many others, there are parallel lines of loss with my story. Evil, sin, and shame all do their work and insist that our hearts close to protect. To survive, we have to control outcomes and manage risk. This is exactly what the God’s people in the Old Testament did with idols. Trusting God with their lives seemed way too risky. Having gods they could control and manage like the other nations sounded much more practical.
But it’s all a lie. The more we refuse to trust our hearts to God, the more we tie ourselves up in perpetual worry, anxiety, and fear. The main reason God asks us to trust Him is that He knows it’s for our own good.
We weren’t meant to run on our own. We weren’t meant to fix ourselves. We were meant to trust.
My own training in trust has taken a deeper turn as I have started the practice of centering prayer. Here for 15-20 minutes, I simply let all thoughts and feelings go and trust them with the Father. I don’t try to react, resist, or retain what scurries around in my mind. I simply release it all to His care. Everything slowly stops — all fretting about today’s tasks, all plans for the future, all problems to resolve. In the process, I refuse attempts to fix myself. I am left still, open, and keenly aware of His love.
God is always working to deepen your trust in Him. So go ahead and fall. It’s for your own good.