Last night at GRAVITY, we discussed Chapter 6 of The Ragamuffin Gospel. The idea at the center of the chapter was the notion that true trust in God is born out of a deep love for him. Manning puts it this way:
“You will trust God only as much as you love Him. And you will love Him to the extent you have touched Him, rather that He has touched you.”
The notion here is that a God that is relegated in our experience to the realms of theory, religious ritual or our intellect is a God that we can admire, respect and even espouse to believe in. But it is not a God that we can place a deep sense of faith in.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…evidence of things unseen. That assurance, that evidence, is the byproduct of an intimacy that convinces the heart of a great affection towards the object of our faith. God in Jesus. So the question becomes has to be asked; can we truly trust and love a God that we do not have intimacy with?
My 2 year old, Carter, understands this concept. He has made it a habit to climb up onto any high thing when I am present. It can be a coffee table, a chair, a table, a counter…it doesn’t make a difference to him, just so long as it is high enough to provide a launch point. He will wait to catch my eye and then almost simultaneously, he will launch himself out…giggling, flailing about and dropping like a 40 lb. stone.
Sometimes I am ready for him. I catch him and we will laugh and wrestle and he will, invariably, say, “Daddy let’s do that again!” Other times though, he will jump and I have to react and drop any and everything I am doing to catch him and stop a catastrophe in the making. Not fun. He, of course, is laughing and giggling all the same. Ignorant of the danger his leap placed him in, ignorant of the laws that govern the universe stating that little boys that go up must come down. He’s not thinking that the ground is not made out of the same substance as Mommy and Daddy’s bed. At that moment only one truth matters to Carter:
He believes in his Daddy more than he believes in the ground.
He knows without reflection or hesitation or measurement that I will catch him. It’s a definitive for him. This assurance came over time. Carrying him for countless hours, playing with him and keeping him safe everyday, tossing him in the air and catching him securely (while Kelley’s heart skipped a beat) and moments where I assured him with my words and out-stretched hands that I would be there if he jumped. Now, its a given. What used to be a hesitant fall forward with a whine is now a leap with a giggle. What was falling is now flying.
I want to be like that with God.
I cannot describe the feeling of catching my son, knowing that he has utter, unshakable trust in me. No matter what my hang-ups or imperfections or failures or character flaws are, Carter sees only the me that gives him the confidence to fly…everything else doesn’t matter. I have a tiny glimpse into why faith received such an enthusiastic response from Jesus in the gospels.
I have been wrestling with trust over the past few months. I look at so many areas of my life that are being suffocated under the chains of my self-sufficiency. Areas where my own lack of confidence in myself bleeds into how I perceive God and his goodness and what I am called to do. I have so many questions about today and tomorrow to answer. I try to control my family, my finances, my relationships, the way others perceive me, my doubt and every possible outcome of each. I try to control the ministry I have been entrusted with, trying to anticipate what will work…what real success is and how I can justify the church paying me to do what I’m doing. I spend so much energy and heartache trying to control what is not mine to control anyways…
I want desperately to leap.
I want to stare at the horizon instead of the ground. I want to fly. I want to trust with absolute abandon that The God who saved me and is saving me in this very moment thinks that I am worth Jesus to Himself. I want to go from wanting to willing. To use the biblical narrative, I want not only to get out of the boat to walk to Jesus, I want to do a cannonball and get everyone else wet in the process.
Maybe you can relate…maybe not. But know this, your Heavenly Father does not drop his children. He is not caught off-guard when we leap or stumble or fall. He is not prone to bouts of inattentiveness or distraction. We do not have to catch his eye…we are already the “apple” of it. We are precious to Him, in ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend. And our faith in Him is the natural expression our of acceptance of that truth.
I know that God has a deep, incomprehensible love for me…for you…for all of us. It’s a love that not only redeems and repairs and restores, it also receives with open arms as we leap and fall into flight.
Believe in your Dad…not the ground.
Please remind me to do the same.