Summer church camp. Bugs, wet clothes, campfires, the constant smell of insect repellent, crushes on the life guard, and bizarre activities that were meant to shape our character. There was one activity we did almost every year, usually with our small group that met for prayer and Bible study. The Trust Fall. Anyone else remember this? We lined up in two even rows, facing each other, arms locked, while the unlucky first pick stood on a platform at the end of our row, back to us, arms crossed, knees locked, ready to fall trustingly into our scrawny, middle-schooler arms.
I was always terrified of that exercise. I hated standing up there, trusting in other people to catch me before I fell on my back in the hard dirt. Looking back, I should have seen this as a clear warning sign of my control freak nature. I do not trust well. I don't trust my husband to remember lock the front door when we leave. I don't trust anyone else to clean the bathrooms correctly (not that anyone is volunteering). I don't trust the pilot flying the plane. I don't trust other people to get the directions right. I don't even like to let other people drive. I don't trust God.
In my spiritual life, my trust fall has somehow become a trust fail. Perhaps it has to do with getting older and experiencing more of the hard side of life. I was pretty sheltered as a child. I'm not sure where it really happened, but sometime in the past few years I stopped trusting God to order my life well. Really, I stopped trusting that He was good and that He loved me.
Some might say this is a valid complaint, the age-old problem of reconciling the goodness of God with all of the suffering in the world. That is certainly part of it, though I can find a comfortable philosophical answer to that problem, or at least agree with the great Christian thinkers who have offered answers to that question. It's more personal than that. It's about letting go of my need to control.
I know that following Him does not mean that my life will be full of blessings and completely absent of suffering. In fact, the way of Christ is the way of suffering. Scripture is pretty clear on that one. I know in my head that He is good, that He loves his children, and that He works through the circumstances of our lives to mature us and to bring us into greater intimacy with Him. I know these things. I believe they are true. I have experienced their truth. But now I stand on the platform, unwilling to fall, not trusting that His arms are strong enough. I want to jump down from the other side on my own and manage this thing called life without having to depend on Him, or anyone else for that matter. If I trust Him, after all, He might just let me down.
Even as I write this, I know what a silly thought it is. I cannot control what happens to me or to those I love. I cannot "manage" this life on my own. If bad things happen, they will happen whether I trust Him or not, and how much harder to walk through them alone. So much is out of my control, and if I can't trust the Maker of all things, whom can I trust?
I can fall into Him, or I can jump off the other side of the platform, away from His strong arms, But I have a sneaking suspicion that I will find that He is right there, waiting to catch me whether I want Him to or not. All the same, I am terrified.