Do you trust me?
I still remember extremely well the time, a couple of years ago, that a friend from church asked me those four simple words.
“Do you trust me?”
My head was saying “it depends on what you’re about to do” but as I seem to do when I’m put on the spot I managed to utter a strange noise which obviously sounded enough like “yes” to satisfy the friend asking the question.
Before I knew it I was lifted up onto the shoulders of this great man and was being paraded round the church meeting (feeling something like Fiona in this picture) as a symbol for something I sadly can’t remember now; obviously the trauma of the experience is stronger than the message he was trying to deliver!
Fortunately, I stared death squarely in the face and lived to tell the tale.
But why does the thought of ‘trust’ strike so much fear into my life?
I’ve recently been reading the story of Daniel.
The background to his story, which is largely found in Daniel 1, is that he was chosen by King Nebuchadnezzar to serve in the King’s palace because he was handsome, intelligent and quick to learn new things.
He trained for three years and discovered he could understand and interpret dreams and visions for others, and served so well that the King placed him in a high position and lavished him with gifts.
Daniel also served God faithfully.
He was a pretty successful guy however you measured him.
Daniel’s success continued for many years and eventually a new King, Darius, made Daniel one of his three administrators, a role in which Daniel “distinguished himself” so much that King Darius planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Daniel 6:8, NIV)
Consumed by jealousy, the other administrators and their friends conspired against Daniel and persuaded the King to set a decree that anybody who worshipped anything other than the king would be thrown into the den of lions.
“When Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down to his knees and prayed, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10, NIV)
So great was Daniel’s trust in God, that he decided to continue to pray even though he knew it would land him in the den of lions.
Although King Darius tried to wriggle out of his decree, he was held to account by the jealous men. When the day arrived and Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius said to Daniel “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you” (Daniel 6:16, NIV)
This is not a King who believed in God, he even refers to Him as “Your God”, but he put his hope in God.
He acted on the small amount of faith or hope that he had.
Morning came after a dreadful night without eating or sleeping, so King Darius rushed out to see whether God could save Daniel.
The story tell us that the King was overjoyed to discover that “when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Daniel 6:23, NIV)
Daniel’s story is a story of trust in God, but as much as it is a story of Daniel’s trust, it is also a story of King Darius’ willingness to exercise the tiny amount of faith or hope which he had.
Maybe the situation forced him to cast his hope onto God.
But he chose to cast it.
I find that is the most difficult thing about trust; it is always a choice.
We can chose to live within what psychologists call our ‘Circle of Comfort’ – where we are happy, safe and secure – or we can exercise a small amount of trust and step out into the ‘Growth Zone’ – which is a little more uncomfortable but will provide new opportunities to grow.
The real adventures with God exist in this growth zone.
It is where we will experience his faithfulness, where we will really get to grips with his goodness, and where we will see life changing adventures.
In Romans 12 we are not told to all be outlandish like Daniel, but to “exercise the measure of faith God has given us.”
Daniel and King Darius had vastly different measures of faith, but they both chose to exercise them.
As we start a new year in church what will happen if we trust God and exercise the measure of faith he has given us?
For a start we’ll experience a fantastic year of adventure with God, as we learn to rely on Him more and us less.
And we’ll also find that every time we climb a rung up the ladder of trust, the steps get smaller and exercising our faith gets easier.
I can’t promise that you won’t be paraded around church on somebody else’s shoulders.
I won’t even begin to suggest it will be safe, or comfortable.
But I can promise that it will be an adventure.
And that you’ll be pleased you did it.