By Jeff Goins, Editor
There is a popular hymn that goes like this:
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O for grace to trust him more…
I sometimes catch myself humming or singing that hymn without even realizing it, and I’m not even that into hymns. However, the song strikes me with a sense of tremendous honesty and longing.
The hymn-writer (Louisa Stead) seems to find herself in the place that I believe many of us are in – which is to say, a place of brokenness. She confesses that she needs to trust in Jesus and that only by grace is such reckless trust possible. It’s interesting, because that’s coupled with lines like “‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” or “I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,” but that’s what I love about it. That’s what makes it so honest.
On one hand, we’ve learned to trust in Jesus, which is to say that we’ve learned to confess our sins, receive forgiveness, and become redeemed children of God. And yet, there’s always tomorrow…
Every day, I find myself asking for the grace to trust Christ just a little bit more. Sometimes, it’s a bit tough, when you consider the circumstances. With terrorism and plummeting economies, with secularism and legalism, with technological gizmos and all kinds of other distractions, trusting in Jesus may be one of the most difficult callings of a Christ-follower.
And yet, we’re given very little room in the Gospels to not trust in Jesus.
Christ asks a man who’s father has died to let his body rot and follow him.
He tells some fishermen to leave their livelihood and fish for men (all the while not explaining how sound of a business model that may be).
He commands a rich, young ruler to scorn his wealth and live more simply.
None of these sound like very trustworthy propositions, if you ask me.
I know a couple who both recently were diagnosed with malignant cancer. Most likely, they both will die very soon. At times, they are so weak that families in the neighborhood have to bring them food to eat for dinner. And yet, when you visit them, they are so full of joy, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they don’t have much money and their health is quickly slipping away. They’ve learned to trust in Jesus.
There are some people in my church who are really struggling. Some are struggling with spouses who have rejected God and distanced themselves from the family. Others have been laid-off or fired for no good reason and can’t forgive those who have wronged them. And even others are quite comfortable and struggle with truly believing that God has taken care of them. At different times, I’ve probably fit into all those categories. Currently, I think that I’m like the hymn writer who is longing for grace so that I may trust him more.
Last week, I worked with a group of young adults on a mission trip, and I saw their incredible trust in Jesus accomplish amazing things for the kingdom of God. I saw Latin American families demonstrate great trust by letting us into their homes and even into their personal lives, because they believed God had brought us to the country of Costa Rica. And I even saw myself trusting a little more in Jesus than I would have if I were at home on the couch.
Brennan Manning, in his book Ruthless Trust, relates the story of a man visiting Mother Teresa and asking her to pray for his clarity. She says that she cannot do that: “Clarity is the last thing you’re clinging to and must let go of.” He remarks that she has always seemed to have great clarity in her life, to which she laughs and replies, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.”
I think that there are times when we pray for clarity and we should really be praying for trust. That’s not to say that God doesn’t speak to us at times, or that we should desire to get direction from him; however, I do believe that at the end of the day, he’s asking us to follow him, even if it means going through incredibly tough and painful situations.
It really is sweet to trust in him, and I hope that we can all, by grace, learn to do so a little more.
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Ashley. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. Check out his blog: Pilgrimage of the Heart.