Friday, December 11, 2009

Trust Me

Aladdin and Jasmine are running away from the scary palace guards. They head for the edge of the roof. "Do you trust me?" Aladdin asks breathlessly. "W-what?" Jasmine stammers. "Do you trust me?" he repeats, reaching for her hand. "Yes...," she says a bit uncertainly, placing her hand in his. "Then jump!" Aladdin cries as the guards close in, and he pulls Jasmine off the roof with him. (Aladdin, 1992)

Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Patrick are close to the treasure, but they've been taken hostage by the ruthless Ian. As they make their way down into the mysterious pit where they believe the treasure may be waiting for them, the centuries-old infrastructure begins to crumble. As everyone scrambles for safety, Abigail is left dangling from a damaged lift, swinging precariously over the abyss. "Do you trust me?" Ben asks her urgently. "Yes!" she replies. "Then let go!" says Ben. Abigail doesn't hesitate. She lets go and lands safely on a strong piece of scaffolding below. (National Treasure, 2004)

Trust can be really scary. I don't know if I'd be willing to jump just because someone told me to—especially if I'd only met that person a few hours before. Still, Aladdin knew that jumping was the only way to escape, and Ben could see that Abigail would fall to safety if she let go at the right time. If Jasmine and Abigail hadn't been so trusting, they might have ended up in a lot more trouble. Of course, I could also have cited movie scenes where a character convinced someone to trust him or her and then everything went to shambles. Trusting other people is sometimes essential, but it's also risky because we can't guarantee the outcome. We don't know for sure that others are trustworthy or that their ideas will work.

A certain amount of trust is necessary in any loving relationship, but it's absolutely essential when it comes to God. Our loved ones will come through for us sometimes, but God is the only one we can trust 100% of the time. It's a good thing God has such a good track record, because He asks us to do some pretty crazy things sometimes. God can lead us to places we never imagined, and sometimes He may even ask us to completely uproot our lives. As Christians, though, we understand that it's actually much riskier to ignore God than it is to trust Him when He asks us to do something that seems insane. Frankly, it's safer to go with God on a wild adventure than to stay home by myself. I am reminded of the necessity of trusting God when I consider some poignant examples from the Bible.

Moses is standing before the burning bush. The voice of God is telling him to go free the Israelites from Pharaoh, but Moses is freaked out. How could he do such a thing? He tries to explain his concerns about this plan to God, but God insists that He will make sure everything turns out all right. "I will be with you," God tells Moses. "Just trust me."

Jesus is going around Galilee calling his disciples. He is asking them to leave everything—their jobs, their families, and their homes—to follow him. If they go with Jesus, who will provide for their needs? Will they become destitute? Jesus doesn't address these unspoken concerns. All he says is, "Come follow me." In their minds they hear him saying, "Trust me," and they do.

God comes to Ananias in a vision and tells him to go find Saul and put his hands on him so that Saul can regain his sight. Ananias tells God that he has heard that this Saul is a pretty dangerous fellow who has a reputation for persecuting Christians such as himself. He wonders if it's safe for him to approach Saul, and he worries that he might be abetting Saul in persecuting other Christians if he helps him. God convinces Ananias that He has a plan and that everything's under control. "Trust me."

Consider the enormity of what God is asking these people to do. Confront a powerful ruler and command him to give up his labor force. Leave everything you know and devote yourself to someone you've just met. Go help the guy who's been arresting and beating up your friends for no good reason. It all sounds pretty crazy, doesn't it? If a loved one asked us to do these things, who knows if we would actually do them? Luckily for Moses, the disciples, and Ananias, it was God asking. They knew that they could trust God not to let them down. Even the people we love will fail us sometimes, but God never does.

I hope that I am wise enough to recognize what is at stake when my trust in God is challenged. Every once in a while, I feel like Indiana Jones staring out into the gulf in disbelief as he realizes that the 'leap from the lion's head' is a true leap of faith. Still, Indy knows what's at stake. His father is dying and the grail, if it exists, is the only thing that can save him now. So he closes his eyes and takes that step—out onto a perfectly camouflaged bridge he couldn't see before. (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989) Indy knew that trust was essential, and because of that his story ended happily, as all such Hollywood adventures should. And yet I have something even better than a screenwriter in which to place my trust—I have an all-powerful God who will make certain that my story ends well.

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