The mystery of trust

An Advent reflection

Dec 24, 2014 by

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In times of uncertainty people want visionary leaders. But what if God’s good plan is a period of sustained uncertainty?

This Advent season’s theme from Mennonite Church Canada/USA is “O that you would reveal your mystery.” This theme drips with a longing to know God’s mind. Human trust comes much more easily when we have certain knowledge.

But there is an element of trust that is only learned in the midst of confusion. Following a vision requires trust in the form of courage. But remaining calm while facing the unknown requires trust in the form of quiet confidence.

I have felt the impatient pain of fear. I have felt the anxious pain of uncertainty. And I’ve experienced the terror of confusion, of questioning the possibility that what I once believed to be wrong may not be wrong after all. Trusting in God is not easy. It demands we find ways to feel comfortable with mystery; acknowledgement that God knows more than we are able to comprehend. Our safety is not in knowing right and wrong. Our safety is in trusting the One who does.

I am not afraid of making a mistake. I am not so proud as to think that God’s redemptive plan and activity will be immobilized by my mess up.

God can direct error that is rooted in love for God and neighbor. God can convert our mistakes and wrong decisions into life-giving opportunities. But rejecting God’s possibilities is cemented in judgement that offers few options other than destructive crumbling.

I want to help create an environment that gives the Spirit of God the most ease of movement. So where does this lead us?

I cannot imagine that which only God sees. But I can surrender to God’s vision.

Willard Metzger is executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. He writes here, where this blog post originally appeared.

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  • Berry Friesen

    I would be more inclined to see the wisdom in this perspective if, as during biblical times, we in the North American church understood “empire” to be a big part of the danger from which we hope to be saved.

    That wouldn’t take away the “confusion” we feel, nor the “mystery” of “God’s mind.” But it would situate ourselves concretely and honestly before God. Perhaps then we together would again have the capacity to discern the difference between what is truthful and what is deceptive.

    • Elaine Fehr

      Is it “empire” or is it sin that is the ultimate danger from which we hope to be saved? Once again this Christmas season we have the privilege of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who came to save us from our sins.

      • Berry Friesen

        Elaine, “empire” is one of the sins that Jesus came to save us from. And a very big one, because it so distorts our vision and capacity to see the world rightly. That’s why Paul and the early church understood Jesus (not Nero) to be Lord, and why the Way of Jesus is the way of peace, not the so-called peace of Rome.

        In Metzger’s essay, he is writing about life and about having an open heart to the possibilities of God’s Spirit. Amen!

        But such talk can easily become empty piety unless it is informed by the rigor of an honest assessment of evil. Which is why we must talk about empire, and about what God in Messiah Jesus has saved us from.

        • Elaine Fehr

          Didn’t Jesus come to save us from our own sin? We have no control over the sins of others (as in “empire”). Our salvation depends on Whom we trust to cleanse us from our own sin, for which we are culpable. For that reason, I fail to understand your emphasis on “empire”. Another reason I fail to understand it is because I don’t find that perspective in scripture.

          • Bruce Leichty

            It is hard to bridge the different theologies here, but the idea that we as Christians are only responsible to ourselves and for living sin-free lives (with “sin” usually narrowly defined) is not biblical, and I doubt if that is what you really intend, either. The follower of Jesus is as concerned as Jesus himself was with the Empire of God (usually translated Kingdom of God). Jesus was concerned with how we are relating to each other in our communities. He identified with the poor and oppressed. He wanted to see no one the victim of violence or predation. Economic sins were as important or more important to him than sexual sins. He held the Judaic elites of his day accountable, as we should in our day (our North American elites are not all Judaic, but a good number are). The follower of Jesus seeks to love others meaningfully and not just superficially or pietistically or patronizingly — and that necessarily implicates the follower in an understanding of and confrontation with the Empire of this World. Effective love requires effective analysis. “Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.”

          • Elaine Fehr

            You’re right, Bruce, I didn’t intend to mean that we are responsible only to ourselves. I was just making the point that Jesus came to save each one of us from our own sins because our God holds us accountable only for our own sins and not the sins of others. I may not be clear in understanding the way “empire” is used. It appears that it can mean more than one thing. It’s lingo that I’m not accustomed to.

  • Elaine Fehr

    Has God not already revealed what we need to know in His word? I don’t think that confusion exists because God hasn’t revealed enough about His mind and what He considers to be right or wrong. Doesn’t confusion exist because many are trying to lead others into error because they don’t believe what God has clearly said? We can completely trust what He has said in His word. Doing that would bring peace and unity.