Sometimes my kids can be irrational. There have been times when they were convinced that they couldn’t do something (say, for instance, that even though everyone else in their swimming class is happily jumping into the pool, they can’t). Times when they were convinced that something was going to happen (say, for instance, that over and over again, night after night after night, they are convinced that the blinking light on the smoke detector means that there’s a fire). And there have been times when they stubbornly refused to do something no matter how much we pleaded (say, for instance, refusing to drink anything even though they’ve thrown up ten times and are dangerously dehydrated).
From their perspective they are being rational. The way they understand the world makes sense to them. If only they could trust what we say, especially at those times when it conflicts with what they think they should do.
I read a parenting book recently in which one of the key points was that while it is important that a child prove to a parent that she is trustworthy, it is much more important for parents to prove to their child that they are trustworthy. A child who knows that she can trust her mom and dad grows up in an environment of security and stability that she needs for healthy development. In addition, imagine the pain and troubles that could be avoided if our children trusted and obeyed us even when they did not want to! How heavenly those teenage years would be!
If only life were that easy.
Have you ever been on a ‘Trust Walk’ where you’re blindfolded and someone else is directing you? With each step you take you’re sure that you’re about to step into a hole or bang your shin against a boulder or get run over by a semi, but the person keeps telling you to step forward. Are you able to fully trust them, or do you have to take a peek and reassure yourself that you’re alright?
It is extremely hard for us to place total trust in someone other than ourselves. It’s just the way we’re wired. And we bring this inability to trust into our relationship with God… at least into those situations in which our perception of what is best for us differs with what we hear God calling us to do. But isn’t that the very definition of trust?
Think about Abraham. Good old Father Abraham. Over 100 years old and doting over his son, Isaac. The child of the Promise. Then one day God says to him, “Take your son up the mountain. Build an altar and sacrifice Isaac upon it.”
How do you imagine Abraham responding? “Hmm, well yeah, ok. I was kinda already thinking I might do that this weekend, so I’m glad you’re telling me to. No problem, I’ll get right on that.”
Of course not! He’s thinking, “What?! That’s madness! What will my wife say?! I can’t kill my son. What about God’s promise about my descendants through him?” But Abraham believes that God will raise his son up from the dead, and so he trusts God and he obeys God, even though I’m sure everything inside him was screaming at him to stop. That’s trust.
(In case you don’t know how this story ends, God stops Abraham right before he kills Isaac and provides a ram as a substitute sacrifice.)
Trust and obedience are joined at the hip. They are tied to one another. Trust is proven real by our obedience. In some things it is easy to obey; in others it is much harder. There have been and there will be times when following Christ seems like madness. But the path of following Christ, the path of discipleship, is simply obedience. To trust and obey.
And if anyone has proven himself trustworthy, it’s God. So keep the blindfold on, keep listening, and keep walking!