Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Trusting God, Part 2
So I have had several communications since the last blog, to which my wife attached a picture of a bridge in the fog. I have added a second variation of the same picture for this blog, and want to add some thoughts from my various conversations on the topic of trust, using this picture as the doorway into understanding trust in God, especially when things are hard (as they so often are during divorce and the aftermath).
Take a few moments to really look at the picture. Let it represent your life…with you standing on the verge of the next step, the next shore…regardless of what has brought you to the point that you are now leaving the familiar shore for another.
Trust in God is a lot like that image, and a lot like the picture in the bridge. Bear with me as I share some of my reflections. First, and most noticeable, is that the opposite side of the bridge cannot be seen. Where the bridge might end up, and the length of the span to be crossed to reach that end are clouded with fog. Isn’t life like that much of the time? The old saying, “if you knew then what you know now” attests to that very fact. We can’t really see the future clearly. We make our best guess, we try to make the right and the best decisions, to follow our dreams, but the certainty isn’t always there. All too often, the future is obscured in a kind of fog. Trust is stepping out onto the bridge anyway. It is taking the chance, journeying into the unknown, making the beginning even if we can’t see the end. When God has called us to step forward, we don’t always know where the road will lead, we simply know who our traveling companion and guide is…and that is enough. I am reminded of Abraham, who was called by God to go out to a land, “that I will show you.” He didn’t know where he was going, only that it was time to go. (See Genesis 12:1 and following.)
Trust is NOT stepping out blindly into nothing. As in the picture of the bridge, when we turned our car onto it, while we could not see the far end, we could see the near side. We could see that THIS part of the bridge was apparently solid, it was well built and maintained, other cars were successfully traversing it, and that it was headed the general direction we were wanting to go. God often doesn’t show us everything, only enough to get us going, enough to give us the assurance to try, and the example of those who have gone before. Only as we step into what we CAN see are we able to then see the next step. To be able to see the other side, one literally has to launch into the unknown, the unseen, to discover that which awaits us in the future. (Abraham also fits this, but I think of Peter in Acts 10 and Paul in Acts 16.)
Trust requires us to believe in something outside of ourselves. I did not make that bridge. I don’t know what gage of steel or iron was used, or which of the two it is. I don’t know who designed the supports, determined the stresses and torques, or placed the foundations in the water. To cross that bridge means trusting in something besides myself, that other people and things can be trusted, and to take the chance that they are not. I can trust the example of others who crossed before, I can trust the signs (and the people who made them) that indicate it is a structure that can bear the weight I bring to it and that it leads to where I want to be. But I would never make it if I only trusted myself. If that were the case, I would have to go out and check every girder, calculate every engineering formula used, measure each span, tighten every nut and test every weld, scuba down to check the pilings, disassemble and reassemble my vehicle…in other words, I would have to do everything for myself, even those things at which I am NOT an expert. God asks us to trust his expertise as well.
Trust means that there is a goal, and I follow the map. According to the map, that bridge would take me from Newport, Oregon, where we were, across to the other shore where we would be able to follow highway 101 on down the Oregon coast. According to the map. I didn’t write the map. But the map was the guide that promised I could get to the desired destination by crossing that bridge. Want to guess what the trustworthy map is we can turn to in our journey of life? I think there is no map so trustworthy in life as the map of the Bible to help us get to the best destinations in our lives, and to the ultimate destination on the heavenly shore as well.
Most of all, trust means action. It would have done me no good to sit where we had taken the pictures, “trusting” that it would get me on down the coast…I would have still been in Newport. Believing the bridge leads there is not the same as acting in faith or trust by driving out onto the bridge. It would never get me anywhere until I put the car in drive and begin the journey. The life of faith is the same way. Believing it is important, or believing that Christ can forgive our sin and help us find a better life accomplishes nothing. Unless, of course, it is a belief that is acted upon with trust and faith by stepping out with our lives onto the road that God has waiting for us.
Finally, one of the things I like most about the picture is that nothing can be seen on the other side of the bridge. It doesn’t mean nothing is there, it merely means that it can’t be seen from where we were. But there is an assurance that exists beyond the bridge. One of God’s promises in scripture is that he will never leave us, that when we give our lives to him, God will stay close by our side wherever the road may lead. So while looking from this side of the bridge means I don’t know what is on the other side, I do know that God will be there, and that God knows what is on the other side of the bridge, and if his call is to head across the bridge, then I can move forward in trust.
Whatever the uncertainties of your life…financial fears in divorce, future relationship questions, job loss and future employment, career path changes or changes in location, changing health concerns…whatever your uncertainty, it is merely a bridge leading to the unseen future awaiting you just ahead, where God has a beautiful journey planned just for you. In the case of the bridge, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Oregon coastline. But in the bridges of life, the journey with God carries beauty beyond the mere vistas we see with our eyes. Bon Voyage!