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Trust Falling

Recently I was asked what my “go to” scripture is when I’m facing hard times. The first thing that came to mind was Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

When we face hard times, I think we often want help or comfort. This passage from Proverbs doesn’t talk about God providing comfort or assistance, but rather direction. I contemplated why I answered with this scripture when thinking about my #1 passage that helps my soul cope in times of difficulty.

In facing a trial, whether it’s a flat tire, an undetermined diagnosis for my troublesome health symptoms, a fragile relationship issue, an uncertain future, financial stress…or any variety of difficulty…being able to trust God in the midst of it comes down to surrendering my natural tendency to either rely solely on my own resourcefulness and reasoning or relying on another human being. Sometimes I have followed a pattern of coping or problem-solving that is self-protective, controlling, and manipulative, rather than humbling myself to God’s faithfulness, purposes, power, and timing.

When I was 18 and about to attend college as a Freshman, I signed up to go on a survival course prior to the Fall Semester. Along with a group of about 40 other new students, I arrived early for college and left everything behind at the dorm except for some bare necessities in a backpack. We were then escorted into a room in the gym to get acquainted with one another. We had no idea how vitally dependent we would be on one another in the coming days. Initiative games were employed to immediately begin developing trust, teamwork, and leadership within the group. Our first task was to get lined up in alphabetical order, while blindfolded, without being allowed to speak. We had not yet introduced ourselves to one another. We figured it out and were so proud of ourselves!

Our second task was to each take a turn at doing a trust fall. The group organized itself into two lines, facing each other with stiffened, outstretched arms, palms facing up. One person at a time stood on a raised platform with their back to the line of “catchers”.  When they were ready, they purposely fell backwards (about 6 or 7 feet off the ground), into the extended arms of the group, trusting that these people they didn’t know were going to catch them with their outstretched arms. When I took my turn, I had to overcome my fear and trust that these strangers were not going to be too weak, tired, bored, or distracted to catch my body as it made the trip backwards into their extended forearms.

After the trust fall activity, we were divided into groups, loaded up into vans, and adventured off into Canada for rock-climbing, the Appalachian trail for hiking together and solo time in the mountains, and a ropes course on-campus. We stretched ourselves physically and mentally through this variety of outdoor activities that forced us to lean on one another for help, safety, and survival, but we also went deeper and considered how to trust in God in the midst of our challenges.

Building a trust relationship with these other students became a bridge for ultimately trusting the Lord in the manner we trusted one another during the course. Honestly, after the trip I did not end up doing life with any of the people in my group, but the lessons about trust remained in my heart from that experience, and my relationship with God has been what took deeper root and has grown steadily over the last 42 years. I learned a lot about how to trust even when I didn’t naturally want to; what it feels like to let go of being in control to trust someone else with my safety and well-being; how trust is earned through faithfulness and being in trials together; and how trust factors in to endure hardship or solve problems.

Trusting in the Lord with all your heart means learning to trust God’s goodness, wisdom, love, creative plan, and His faithfulness that comes from a long and shared association with Him. Through the daily trials I have learned to walk with Him, turning to God when hardship crops up. When the bigger, more difficult challenges of life present themselves, I’m already wired to turn to the Lord. To borrow a phrase from an old hymn…when “sea billows roll,” I know He’s going to show up and meet me in the waves that are over my head. I may have to be in the water for a while, but He’s going to swim with me and guide me to safety, whatever that looks like in my particular trial. I cannot claim that I do it perfectly, or even well, all the time. There are moments of failure where I revert to trusting in myself or others rather than God. But my desire and aim are to lean on the Lord more quickly and readily, trusting Him as the source of my strength and guidance.

My own understanding is not to be leaned on too heavily, but instead I am to trust God with all my heart, acknowledging His eternal qualities that meet me in my point of need, and welcoming those attributes to cover the unknowns, placing Him in the leadership role for my life. When I do this, He will be faithful to direct my path, guiding me in whatever needs to be done, providing His wisdom, which becomes the companion I need to walk through the trial with. He won’t leave me. God’s presence and power will be exactly what I need in the moments where my heart requires someone reliable to fully trust. Even if I feel like I’m falling backwards from an uncomfortable height, I can know that He will catch me.

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