Tag Archives: trust

Ruthless Trust

“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God

I shared in my last post about the gift of being in this unemployed place of uncertainty and vulnerability.  There is certainly a lot to learn and enjoy in it.  But I’m not going to sugar-coat that it’s always what my perspective or attitude is.  Other times it can just be really hard and unsettling.  I’m not unlike you, I want to be in control of my surroundings, my future and my options.  But I am in a season presently in life where all of what I used to rely upon as security is no longer secure.  My wife and I are holding tight to simple and core truths about who we are, who our God is and that the future is secure in him and his provision over us.  We are challenged and cross-pressured to believe in things we can’t see and not lose hope. We are not the first people to find ourselves here, it’s just our story today.

I lost some faith this week, I got discouraged.  Met with our accountant last week to do our 2016 taxes for us personally and the businesses we are trying to get off the ground.  I had the figures stare back at me on paper like a bully on the playground.  How little income I had in 2016 and how much of our personal investment I put in the coffee business that is 100% loss at the moment (of course most businesses lose $ in their first couple years).  All my identity of being a provider for my family for 23 years was being challenged.  The accusing voices started of what a failure I must be, how much I’ve let everyone down and the helplessness of not being able to correct the ship immediately.   Defeated, discouraged, disappointed . . . what do we with these emotions?  Where do we take these lies that bounce around in our head and seek to intimidate us into total surrender?

Today I went for a walk in the woods to listen.  I spent several hours walking and sitting.  I listened, I listened to the babbling brook, I listened to the waving branches of the trees over me, I listened to the cracking of broken sticks under my boots, I listened to the hawks overhead and I listened for the voice of the One who made me and marks my days.  I started out somewhat lost, feeling disconnected and anxious.  And then He spoke and it was hard to compose myself.  He said:  “stop trusting in bank statements and financial tables, learn to ruthlessly trust me.”  The voice went on, told me to look around, look at the eco-systems of life and complexities all around me.  They don’t worry, they don’t fret, they are taken care of.  How much more will I be taken care of.

I was reminded that we are at the dawn of the Lenten season of the Church, where we are to be stripped away of all our preoccupations and distractions to find ourselves in Him.  We can locate ourselves in his suffering and thus share with him our deepest longings and shortcomings.  We don’t have to wear our fears like a cloak, we can put it on him and hide ourselves in him.  In his creation, in his ever presence, in the Spirit that broods over the earth and bubbles up in the brooks and streams.  If we ruthlessly trust him, we can find our confidence in him.  This is a place of surrender, vulnerability and exposed nakedness.  But we came into this life naked, and naked sometimes we still find ourselves.  We ruthlessly trust not because we are masochists, but because we believe foundational aspects of his nature:  goodness, faithfulness, sustenance, mercy and eternal love.

We are being asked to ruthlessly trust . . . we are ALL being asked to ruthlessly trust.  What’s on the other side of that door?  Let’s open it and find out, but it starts with trust. #Gulp

The myth of ‘scarcity’

scarcity

“2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’” 4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.” (Genesis 3:2-7)

“took and ate”, could this possibly be the first act of human consumerism?  To me, this is a picture of what you and I still do today.  But the question is why?  What is it within us that says that what we have is not enough?  Where do the fears come from that speak to us and say that someone/something is taking things away from us and in the end there won’t be enough for me?  The myth is that the thing I put my security in is a scarce thing, there isn’t enough of it, so I will consume it and hoard it if need be so that I am self-sufficient and not vulnerable to the reality of being left without.  It is a fear-based way of thinking, I don’t think it’s how we were originally designed.  The moment the original humans tried to ‘make it on their own’, it didn’t work out for them.  What they felt was fear, shame, competition and a loss of peace.  All that was right, now was wrong and they came to that realization, the game changed.

We do this on many levels in western culture.  Physically, popular reality shows on hoarding and apocalypse preparation are extreme examples of the idea that if we don’t grab for more and the fleeting security of self-sufficiency, there won’t be enough for me.  We do this on our over-filled closets, basements, garages, dressers, attics, crawl-spaces etc. of stuff we hardly use, don’t really need but we acquire because we must not have enough and want the security of more.  We do this with the promise of retirement savings, that we can save up enough to live comfortably into our aging years because of what we have stockpiled throughout life.  Consumer goods aren’t evil, it’s our attachments to them that expose the sickness.  Saving money is a wise habit/strategy, but as a source of security for what really sustains us, it will fall woefully short.

From a spiritual perspective, it seems to me that the original humans no longer trusted that God would provide for them, that there wouldn’t always be enough.  So they began to take mastery of their world, enforce a dominion over Creation and grab for what they could instead of living and trusting in the promises given to them and the balance of harmony they were set in.  Take, acquire, master, consume . . . these are the verbs of the myth of ‘scarcity’.  The opposite verb is simply ‘trust’.

So what is the antidote to the myth of ‘scarcity’?  I think it is a simple yet profound trust in the One who made us, who cares for us, who will do what He promises to do.  I think it is also a trust in one another.  My favorite definition of community is ‘there’s enough for everyone’.  That we make ourselves vulnerable to one another in the reality that we need each other, that we are designed to live in community with others so that as we each contribute, all our needs are met.  This is how Creation operates, no one part has all it needs to survive, we live as a part of a connected whole sourcing one another.  The myth of ‘scarcity’ begins when we stop trusting these basic truths and in our vulnerability grab for more.

I’m seeing some parts within me recently that I’ve bought into this lie of scarcity and it’s exposing my lack of trust in the One who made me. I find myself going back to a primary place within, perhaps circling back to that Garden and asking myself what do I really believe and trust in about God and His Creation and my part in it?  I’m coming to a new realization that there are some really good answers to that question, and plenty of them.  Scarcity be gone.

 

I babbled on about things far beyond me

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Job 42:1-6 (The Message)
I Babbled On About Things Far Beyond Me

 1-6 Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.   Nothing and no one can upset your plans.You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,   ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,   made small talk about wonders way over my head.You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.   Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’I admit I once lived by rumors of you;   now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!   I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

 I find this a great reflection on this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.  The saying goes, “a wise man says there is a God, and I’m not him.”  Knowing your place in the cosmos is both a humbling realization as well as a taste of true freedom.  To know that ultimately we are not in control is both scary and exhilirating.  I’m a type A personality, I like to be in control, making things happen and getting stuff done.  But what also comes with that is the delusion that everything and everybody is your responsibility.  That kind of thinking is folly and recipe for personal disaster.  I had a graduate school professor who said with this kind of thinking, “you are a train wreck waiting to happen”.  I’ve learend he was right. So on this Ash Wednesday, recognize your limits and surrender that sense of control.  Ask yourself this question:  Did you bring yourself into being?  If not, then stop taking yourself so seriously and relax a bit.  It’s not about you.  The question is, if you let go, are the arms of the One who will hold you sufficient?  That is the question of faith.  And today, by faith, I’m letting go.peace,Marshall