Some words are inherently frightening. Among the more obvious ones, I’d include words like death, failure, torture, and jalapeño ice cream. Surely anyone who hears words like these immediately feels a small sliver of fear sliding its way mercilessly through their chest. And, only the bravest could possibly maintain their composure in the face of such terrifying terms as trapped, disease, helplessness, despair, and reality television show.
But, is there anything more frightening than hearing someone ask, “Do you trust me?”
I don’t know about you, but when I hear a question like that, my fight-or-flight instinct immediately kicks into overdrive. On the fight side of the equation, I start thinking, “What do you want? Surely you want something or you wouldn’t be asking. Well, you’re not going to get it that easily. You’ll have vanquish me and pry whatever it is from my cold dead fingers.” Okay, that may have been a bit strong. But, I like to use the word vanquish whenever I get the chance. And, you get the point. If someone asks about trust, I start to wonder what they’re after and what I’m going to have to do to protect it.
And then there’s the flight response. Ask, “Do you trust me?” and I’m looking for the nearest exit. “You’re not going to trap me so quickly. I have superpowers that enable me to slip through the smallest cracks. Trust you? Sure I trust you. Look! A squirrel!” And I’m gone.
There’s just something scary about being asked to trust someone.
I remember trying to teach the game “trust fall” to my daughter Leah. It’s a simple game. All she has to do is stand in front of me, with her back turned and her arms stretched out to each side. Then, without looking or moving her feet, she needs to fall backward, trusting that I’ll catch her before she hits the ground.
It sounds simple. But Leah actually found it quite difficult. She’d stand there for the longest time, trying to build up the courage to start the fall. And then, just as she was almost at the point where I’d reach out and catch her, she’d get scared and take a step back.
It was rather frustrating. Each time I would reaffirm that I was going to catch her and that I’d never let her hit the ground. Then I’d ask if she believed me. And, of course, she always said that she did, that she knew I’d never let her fall. And, every time she caught herself before she reached my arms.
She believed, but she didn’t yet trust.
We’ve already seen that the faith that saves must be a faith in something. But, biblical faith involves even more than that. Simply believing the truth about God and his amazing story will not lead to salvation. Satan and his demons believe these truths about God. But, it won’t do them anything good. Why not? Because they don’t really have faith. Knowledge and faith are not the same thing.
Do you trust me? As scary as that question might be, it lies at the heart of faith. Having true faith means answering that question with a sometimes confident, though often hesitant, “Yes.” An eyes-closed, arms-outstretched, knees-quaking, yes.
Do you trust me?
That’s the question faith asks. As you’ve worked your way through this story, you’ve heard a lot about God. You’ve read about his grace and his glory, his constant faithfulness, and the amazing promises that he’s made. And, you’ve read about how he sent Jesus to fulfill those promises and lead his people into his Kingdom. So, you now have quite a bit of knowledge about God.
But, do you trust him? Do you believe that he really has your best interests in mind? Are you sure that he will live up to his promises? Do you think that you can place your life in his hands and know that he will take care of you? Are you ready to stretch your arms wide, close your eyes and fall back—placing yourself in his hands, ceding control over your life and well-being, trusting that he will catch you before you hit the ground? That’s faith.
It’s not easy. It’s actually quite scary. But that’s what faith is.
Do you trust me?
(You can read the rest of the posts in this series on the Gospel Book page.)