Something Existing Apart

I got a text last night from a friend.

"Do you trust God?"

I asked, "What does this mean?"

My friend responded, "Do you trust that he is who he says he is and that he can be trusted with your life?" I was distracted and taken aback by the question, and simply responded with a diplomatic "I think so."

My friend asked a follow-up: "How did you get to a place where you were able to do that? Did it just happen? Or did you have to make a choice?"

My thoughts were so sporadic that I had to tell my friend I would respond another time, that it was too deep for me at the moment. Clearly my friend was struggling, perhaps still is, maybe a lot, maybe only a little. These questions are huge questions, and they don't have simple answers. I don't pretend to be qualified to answer them perfectly, but I do have thoughts.

Let's start with the initial question. "Do you trust God?" I am tempted to take a critical approach to this question, really underlying the variables at play, but the heart of the matter is more interesting. Trust. What is it about God that makes it so hard for us to trust him? A doubter would say it is because God is distant, that his voice is so often mediated by the fundamentally untrustworthy voice of humanity, that he is contradictory. A hopeful thinker would say it is because there is something bigger about God that we don't have the capacity to understand, and that trust is therefore a product of comprehension. I may think it is both.

The way that I have come to process trust is that it is founded in the unknown. Faith and Trust are distinct, to be sure. But perhaps trust is the means by which we embody faith. Do I trust God? I certainly try, and by try I mean that I keep my actions focused on the Personage of Christ, rather than on the fruit that I desire for myself. I see trust as a natural state of childhood, a posturing that occurs by the very nature of our redeemed selves. When Christ spoke of the good tree bearing good fruit, he was saying that you cannot embody anything that is not in perfect step with your redeemed identity. He is establishing a foundation for further understandings of new covenant theology: redemption and reconciliation, the firmness of his love.

I trust God because I believe he loves me, and any other theological problem is covered by the grace that love produces, both for myself and for God. The question almost begs to be read as an accusatory jab, as if to make a claim that perhaps God does not deserve to be trusted. I often wonder about this too. Does God deserve our trust? I don't know. But perhaps the implied wildness of God can be an example, rather than a threat. Perhaps the wildness of God is simply an opportunity for us to begin thinking about God in a less safe way.

How did I get to a place where I was able to do that? Well first off, I don't situate my questions of God within dichotomies. I don't believe that I am able to trust. Because more often than not, I look for the fruit of my actions rather than the face of Christ. Choosing to trust God is something I think about daily. How do I do it? How do I make this leap? That's a question fundamental to the narrative of one of the most important books in my life: "A Severe Mercy." Van asks C. S. Lewis in a letter this same question: how do I make the leap? The answer is of course that the leap is not itself a step toward trust, but a product of trust already existing. It is the means by which we embody our faith. I do not "trust god" didactically, confidently, unwaveringly. I do not. I actually wonder if the Trinitarian idea of the Father is intentionally revealed to us as untrustworthy, wild, mysterious. And that it is the image of Christ, the embodiment of that mystique into a human shape, that fosters human trust.It's a natural progression of the two embodiments trying to understand each other. See progressive dispensationalism, add a dash of Austin's progressive literary mind.

Do I trust that God is who he says he is? Well, tell me first: who does he say he is? Many of us would do well to ask that question more often, and to be honest with what we scrounge up.

My trust of God is not a place where I am capable, enlightened, or strong. It is a posture in which I am a rudimentary network engaging with something past its known privileges. I'll expand my range, but I may not ever have the full scope. So no, it did not just happen. It is not something that happens at all: it is something existing apart from me and my thoughts. Was it a choice? If it helps you to think of it as a choice, to choose to trust, then choose. For me, I think of it more as a wild behavior. All I can think to do is open up doorways for more of that "something existing apart" to wander in to my life. Thankfully, I'm not under a time-crunch. I've got all the time in the world to think about God.