Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's all about trust.

In mathematics, three points (in the same plane) determine a line.

In plotting my course in life, I often ask myself the question, "What is God trying to teach me these days?" Then I look for patterns, insights, or three things that line up.

Today I had a mini-epiphany: It's all about trust.

Over the last two days I've been re-reading a book called "The Gabriel Method," by Jon Gabriel. It's a book I first read last July, and it has helped transform my eating habits. I decided that I needed a bit of a refresher course. Jon suggests that one reason a person puts on extra weight is some primal response to freezing to death, starving to death, or being chased and eaten. As I read the book this time around, I asked myself, "What am I afraid of? What do I believe is threatening my personal safety?"

Jon suggests that fear, sadness, anger, longing, and resentment are all threats to safety. It was a good question, and I was able to list a few places where I have nagging fears, lingering sadness, unresolved anger and resentment, and a few unfulfilled longings. I was a bit surprised at some of the issues this simple self-questioning unearthed.

But I'm not one to shrink from issues, I lift them up to God. "What's at the heart of all these issues? Is there a pattern? Are they inter-related?"

If prayer is like talking into a phone, Bible reading is like listening at the ear-piece. I had recently done some reading in Colosians, but I was generally untouched. I contemplated starting in at Matthew, where the New Testament begins, but then I recalled a passage I'd been thinking about the night before.

When I wake up in the night, I do memory work. I mentally recite things I've memorized: 50 US states and their capitals, the provinces of Canada, the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 44 US presidents in order, the countries of Central and South America. Sometimes I recite the names of the 66 books of the Bible. Last night, in addition to a few of the above, I recited what I could of the 23rd Psalm. I only got about 1/2 of it right. It's been some years since I worked on it.

So I pulled out my Bible and read slowly through the 23rd Psalm. It turns out that one theme in the poem is trust. Not unlike US currency, the psalmist proclaims, "In God we trust."

Fear, sadness, anger, longing, and resentment can all be evidences of feeling threatened: of being unsafe.

"The Lord is my Shepherd..." "He leadeth me..." "He restoreth my soul..." "...Thou art with me..."

These words inspired me to trust in God. "Unless you are converted and become like a child, you shall in no wise enter the kingdom of God." A child trusts their Father. A child allows their Father to quiet their fears, calm their anger, resolve their longings and resentments. A child trusts their parent to keep them safe. Hmmm...

Recently at school I've had two sets of parents who were very concerned about how their children were being taken care of academically. One parent came to the realization that she needed to trust the teacher and the school. I've seen a transformation.

The second set of parents is consistently on guard, concerned, and watchful that their child is "protected." This set of parents doesn't trust the teacher nor the rest of the staff. It's not that we are incompetent or unreliable: they just don't trust us. And it shows.

It's the same school, the same teachers, and the same school year: in one situation, trust exists. In the other, it doesn't.

In life, I have a choice, just like these parents: I can live in the calm of informed trust, or in the storm of irrational mistrust.

Today I remembered one of my favorite verses: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5,6)

I'm not abandoning my ability to reason. In Isaiah God says, "Come, let us reason together." Anyone who reads my blog knows that I'm a thinker: an analyst. But ultimately, I'm not trusting in my ability to figure things out and come up with a plan. Instead, I'm going to "trust in the Lord." He will keep me safe. "...and he shall direct thy paths."

Or as the 23rd Psalm says, "I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me."

Today, I lined up three points (two sets of parents, and one set of personal fears). The common issue? Fear or trust. That's what God is trying to teach me these days. That was my mini-epiphany. And I choose trust.