In God We Trust

I was pulling into the USA Gas Station at the end of Oak Park the other day.  I like that gas station because the gas there is cheaper than anywhere else, so I fill up there whenever I get the chance.  As I was pulling in this day, I noticed some sort of moving truck parked on the adjacent side street.  It was a truck from a local business, not a national one.  And at the bottom, the local owners had printed the motto, “In God We Trust”.

“Amen,” I said as I completed my turn and pulled to a stop at the first open pump.

But as I stepped out of my car, I realized that my amen was more automatic than authentic.  I had said amen because I recognized the owners of that truck to be “on my team”, not because I recognized the truth of the actual statement.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever recognized the truth of the statement “In God we trust”.  That statement is more a motto, as I called it above.  Really, it is more like a slogan or even a jingle.  At least it is for me.  I’ve heard it so many times that I no longer really hear it, no longer consider what it is saying, what it is encouraging me to do, what it is establishing as right or correct or wise to do.

As I reflected upon that while pumping my gas, I realized that this statement was really saying something profound, that it was encouraging me to is something I should do, that what it is establishing as right and correct and wise and really right and correct and wise indeed.

What I realized is that saying “In God we trust” (or, to make it more individual, “in God I trust”) is more than just pledging fidelity to a team.  What I realized is that it is a confession of a way of life, a healthy way of life.  Trust is basically the same thing as belief.  It is used 36 times in the NIV, and almost every time it is translating the Greek word pisteuo, which is believe or have faith or some variation of that idea.

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As I am not a translator and not incredibly skilled at Greek, I’m not sure why it is translated as trust is these passages rather than believe, which is far more common.  My guess, though, is that the passages in which it is translated trust are a little more intensive some of the others.  My guess is that the belief/faith in these passages is more than just an intellectual assent to something but a more committed reliance upon it.  I once heard it defined in this way: “faith is thinking a guy can walk across a high wire pushing a wheelbarrow; trust is getting in the wheelbarrow”.

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What I am discovering at this stage in my life is that this “getting in the wheelbarrow” is not just what trust is but that it is also an essential element of living life correctly.  The fact of the matter is that I have to get into the wheelbarrow quite often whether I want to or not.  The fact of the matter is that my path involves quite a few hire wires.  The only way across these hire wires (the only healthy way, as I said before, the only way that doesn’t result in devastating anxiety) is this trust in the one who is pushing the wheelbarrow over these high wires, this “trust in God”, this commitment, this reliance, this belief that He can get me over the hire wire and will get me over the high wire.

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So it is a motto.  It is a good motto, and shouldn’t stop being a motto.  It is a signifier of which team you on are, too.  But even more than those, it is a way to live.  It is again the right, correct, and wise way to live.  It is the way I am trying to live.  And I invite you to try along with me.

 

This Will Not End In Death

I have a mentor, an older man who helps me in the life of The Faith.  I have a couple mentors, actually.  One of them came to see me today.  We spent about a hour and a half talking about various aspects of the life of faith, some of which were challenging but all of which were inspiring and encouraging.  Perhaps the most inspiriting and encouraging was the way he walked me through John 11, the account of Lazarus’ resurrection.

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I was familiar with that story, of course, having covered it at least once in Bible college and heard numerous messages on it in church.  But my mentor showed me things in that story I had never seen before.  The most significant of those is Jesus’ opening words in the story.

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This sickness will not end in death, Jesus says.  He tells His disciples right from the start that Lazarus’ sickness (and, by extension, everything connected to it, including Jesus’ return to Judea) will not result in death (again by extension, death for anyone).  What then follows is what would be called “the debate” in a story or screenplay (according to Blake Snyder, the debate is what ends the first act of a story).

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The disciples debate Jesus on this point, certain that a return to Judea will indeed result in Jesus’ death as well as their own.  Jesus continues to assert that it will not result in death.  He even asserts this after Lazarus has died.  Finally, Thomas agrees to go to Judea with Him (and apparently persuades the others to go also) even though he is still sure doing so will result in all their deaths (my mentor called this “pessimistic yet courageous faith”, which I said pretty much describes my faith).

Their going to Judea did not result in their deaths, though.  Instead, it resulted in their witnessing one of the greatest of Jesus’ miracles, their witnessing what Jesus called glory.  As Jesus said at the beginning, the event did not end in death.  They did not die.  They apparently were never in danger of dying.

In the same way, Jesus is asking me to do things.  He is leading me into new and sometimes scary territories.  And He is telling me that it will not result in death, no matter how much it might look or seem like it will.  He is telling me it will result in glory.  This story is The Story; the beats in this story line up with and reflect the beats of The Story.  This is happening in my life right now.  It is probably happening in yours as well.  If it isn’t, it soon will.   May we believe what Jesus is telling us.  May we understand and be convinced of the fact that death is not and never will be our fate.  May we understand that we are headed not for death but for glory.

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