Monday, May 19, 2014

Building Trust

This is my eighth post in a series on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Each post will cover one of the eleven chapters of this book on seeing God and learning how to live fully... right where you are. Each post will be tagged 05/2014 and One Thousand Gifts. All quotes in italics are from the book.

Chapter 8: How Will He Not Also?

Chapter 8 is about trust.
I read this chapter on a Saturday evening and the words were still ringing in my head the next morning as I drove my kids to church. Trust. Hard fought for among people and so easily lost, but I couldn't help think about all the things we trust implicitly. How we trust the world. I became keenly aware of the 3000+ pound vehicle I strapped my precious blessings into, this metal, plastic, rubber structure that I press the pedal to 70 miles an hour and there they are behind me, just sitting and smiling. And I take us in that metal box under a concrete overpass, rock hanging above us in the sky. How much trust does that require? I'm willingly, knowingly bringing my children under a weight that would break any vehicle it fell on. I'm trusting that our van drives smooth, that the doors don't fly off, that the tires don't explode, that the overpass hangs up there in the sky like it was meant to do and always has, but I'm trusting that it will keep on keeping on.

Have you ever gone to sit in a chair and thought, I wonder if this thing will hold me. Maybe once or twice on your grandmother's 70 year old dining room chair, but I'd hazard a guess that 99% of the time, you don't give it a second thought. It's the classic Philosophy 101 thought exercise, but I don't care; it has implications. I trust that the chair will hold me because of all the times I've ever sat in a chair, it held me. My experience tells me that chairs hold. My lifetime of chair sitting has preached to me that chairs are reliable and I don't have to think before I sit in them because they will do what they always do: hold.

"Without an active, moment-by-moment trust in the good news of an all-sovereign, all-good God, how can we claim to fully believe? ... Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism."

I may trust chairs. I'd guess most of the world does (except for perhaps the two people I know who have broken a chair they sat in... imagine their trust issues!). I may trust chairs, but I'm far less trusting of God. And when you think about it, my implicit trust in the function of my chair should be way less automatic than my implicit trust of God. But I have fuzzy vision. I lack focus.
When I tune the eyes of my heart in, I can list you thousands of ways that God has protected me, some of them from before I ever acknowledged Him with my lips. Thousands. Maybe more, but I wouldn't have the time or memory to count. This is certainly a track record worth trusting, a lifetime of gift and provision and protection and love. Why is it so hard for me to trust God when it is so easy for me to trust a chair?

"If trust must be earned, hasn't God unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on the raw wounds, the thorns pressed into the brow, your name on the cracked lips? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right? He's already given the incomprehensible."

It's so easy to see when you look into the face of Christ. Of course God will give us all things. He already gave us Jesus. Even if that was it, the only gift, the only blessing, it shatters any doubt we could ever have about how much God loves us. And if we truly do not doubt His love, we can have the greatest, most fabulous, most wonderful trust in Him. He has far and beyond earned our trust, but we have to work to build it in our own hearts. 

"Thanks is what builds up trust... Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks. Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out the planks of trust. I can walk the planks - from known to unknown - and know: He holds."

We build up our trust of God when we thank Him. We extend the hand of gratitude and we learn to appreciate, to see God around us, and slowly, slowly we start to believe in Him. And we build a belief that we can stand on, a belief like the one I have in the chair I'm sitting in, one that is automatic and implicit.  

"This is the crux of Christianity: to remember and give thanks, eucharisteo. Why? Why is remembering and giving thanks the core of the Christ-faith? Because remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust - to really believe."

We look back on all the times God has cared for us, loved us, showered us with grace, and we grow our trust. We grow our trust and we strengthen our belief. This is our whole being; this is our whole life. Seeing and remembering begets gratitude. Gratitude begets trust. Trust begets belief. When we hone in our vision, see God, and thank Him, we build a relationship of trust that will stand firm.

"The God whom we thank for fulfilling the promises of the past will fulfill His promises again. In Christ, the answer to the questions of every moment is always Yes."

I have built a relationship with chairs. I have spent a lifetime sitting in them, and they have always held for me. I don't have to wonder or think or fear that the chair will suddenly abandon me, desert me, not work for me. My answer to the chair is always Yes! I trust you.The same goes for the cars I drive and the roads I drive them on and the house I live in and the houses of friends and family that I visit and the stores I shop in and the trees and boulders I drive by. I trust that they will all hold because they've always held. They have fulfilled their functions for me time and again and by that, we have a relationship of trust. I do not fear while I drive or sleep in my house. I know. The answer is Yes.

We get hung up on God because we can't see Him and we feel like we can't know. It's confusing; is this God or is this something else? How do I know God meant this and not for something else to happen? Is this gift from God or is it from a great decision I made? Is this pain from God or from my sin? Here's the thing: it's all from God. Whatever life you lived today? It was from God. And all those gifts and all that pain, they are all being made into good for you and glory for God. Always. Always. Every moment. YES! God is always good and you are always loved and that means that you can trust Him.

"All fear is but the notion that God's love ends. Do you think I end, that My bread warehouses are limited, that I will not be enough? But I am infinite, child. What can end in Me? Can life end in Me? Can happiness? Or peace? Or anything you need? Doesn't your Father always give you what you need? I am the Bread of Life and My bread for you will never end. Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough and hasn't counting one thousand gifts, endlessly counting gifts, exposed the lie at the heart of all fear? In Me, blessings never end because My love for you never ends. If My goodnesses toward you end, I will cease to exist, child. As long as there is a God in heaven, there is grace on earth and I am the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing-love-grace."

Do you hear that? That... is a song of Love. "All fear is but the notion that God's love ends." And God's love can't end so we can't fear. But our sight is fuzzy and our eyes need help; our hearts need focus. So we build the bridge, plank by plank, thanks by thanks, and yesterday carries us to tomorrow and into the forever infinite love of God, and before long, we have built a road of trust, a trust that we can count on in all things.

Tune back in on Thursday, 5/22, for my post on Chapter 9: Go Lower

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