If you want to learn about trust, go to a climbing wall. Several years ago, my oldest son worked at a Christian camp. He was in charge of their Adventure Staff. One of his responsibilities was to oversee and operate the camp’s climbing wall. I attended a Men’s Retreat at the camp, during that time. One afternoon, I ventured over to the building that housed the climbing wall. My son was there assisting people, as they tried their hand at climbing. Of course, being the dad, I had to take a turn. Jonathan got me all strapped in, attached the belay rope and showed me how to get started. As I began to climb, every muscle in my body tensed up. I moved cautiously from hand hold to hand hold, straining to maintain my grip on the wall. Jonathan encouraged me to relax. He guided me to find the next place to put my foot or my hand. After much effort, I finally made it to the top, and rang the bell. Then Jonathan put my trust to the test. He said, let go of the wall, lean back, grab the rope and walk down the wall. Even though I had rappelled in my younger days, it was very scary to do what he instructed me to do. With more than a little fear, I let go of the wall and Jonathan slowly lowered me down.
As we go through life, we often find ourselves in “climbing wall” experiences. We proceed by our own effort, muscles tense, clinging to the wall. We exhaust ourselves trying to make it on our own, when all along, God has a hold of the rope. There comes a time for all of us when God says, now let go of the wall and trust me. Those are scary times indeed, but if we will obey, we discover that we are secure in Him.
The disciples had to learn that lesson over and over again with Jesus. Luke records one of those dramatic times, in Luke 8:22-25.
One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
Jesus intentionally had the disciples get in the boat and cross the lake. Jesus went to sleep, with a storm brewing on the horizon. The storm hit, with ferocious velocity, and threatened to swamp the boat. In a panic, the disciples awakened Jesus. Jesus calmed the storm, and then said in essence, don’t you trust me? They were all amazed.
Recently, I have gone through a spiritual storm. My anxiety was high, my muscles were tense, my stomach was in a knot. The first waves of the storm had already crashed over the bow of my little boat. I became fearful of what would happen next. Then God brought me to the above mentioned passage. I could hear Jesus speaking to me. “Don’t you trust me?” With some remaining fear, I spiritually released my grip on the wall and leaned back in Jesus’ strong arms. And Jesus came through for me, calming the storm.
There are still storm clouds on the horizon, but I am trusting Jesus to guide me through. Like the disciples, I am still learning the lessons of fully trusting Jesus, but I am actively unloading my anxiety to him. I have a part to play in the events ahead of me, but ultimately, I am secure in Christ.
When all is going well, we can become complacent in our faith. We coast along, with a false sense of our own abilities. We begin to believe that we can handle the challenges of life on our own. Then Jesus tells us to get in the boat and head out into the storm. It is there that our faith is tested and refined. In those times, Jesus asks us a simple question. “Will you trust me?”