I've never been good at trusting others. I'm guarded and fearful. I hold back and maintain control. In order to matter I perform. Way too often I wait for the other shoe to drop. For most of my life I've been this way.
But I don't want to be this way anymore. I want to live in the freedom that trust begets — especially now as I step into this new calling. I want to be myself and trust that that will be good enough. I want to assume that others are for me. I want to trust God like I used to.
Yesterday, my sister sent me note saying she thought of God (and then me re: my engaging God everywhere predisposition) as she watched a scene from Netflix's Grace and Frankie. In the scene Grace is dating a much younger man and has been desperately trying to be younger herself and then this happens;
My sister writes, "I stopped to imagine how God sees us, how he sees me. How many times have I feared that if God sees me for who I really am he’ll “run for the hills”. And if you notice the look in Peter Galliger's eyes while Grace is stripping herself down, there is nothing but love in his eyes. How much more does God not look at us, stripped bare and still say, 'I’ll take it'?"
Then my sister and I texted back and forth about the different bible stories/texts that speak of this kind of love — the Father's heart in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Romans 8:33-39, God's love for the shame-filled Adam and Eve in the garden and Psalm 139. It's amazing how the Spirit whispers truth about God's unconditional love in all of these different places (including the imaginations of 2018 TV script writers!).
Wanting to nudge my sister to write a sermon herself about God's Grace in Grace and Frankie, I was about to suggest she find a good theologian's take on the topic as well — to round out the message. Before I could do that she wrote that she'd leave the sermon-writing to me.
And then I came across this quote this morning;
"What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands [Isa. 49:16]. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters. This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort—the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates—in knowing that God is constantly taking care of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me."
J. I. Packer, Knowing God
I first read these words 30 years ago — shortly after God radically transformed my life and called me to be a pastor. As I read them again this morning I feel a glimmer of the spiritual passion and confidence I felt when I read them the first time.
If I want to trust others I need to trust God (again).