26 June 2008

Trust but verify

When it comes to politicians, there’s nobody I like more, or respect more than Ronaldus Magmus—the Gipper—Ronald Reagan. I mean, I really respect the convictions, vision and heart of the man. Leadership is so excruciatingly difficult, there’s an entire cottage industry within the leadership segment of writing, dedicated to how lonely it is at the top. Yet, Reagan was unwavering. And he was all the while, totally and blissfully in love with Nancy through their whole marriage and his Governorship and Presidency.

The command with which Reagan faced-down the most dire and challenging monsters of a generation—The Cold War, the threat to civilization in the doctrine of assured mutual destruction, runaway inflation, the Carter economic catastrophe, anemic image around the Globe, (fueled by such a pathetically soft stance on the US hostage-takings in Iran)—is just amazing to me. One of Reagan’s more famous credos, regarding treaties with the Soviet Union in this case, was “Trust, but verify”. All of my adult life, I’ve felt this was so wise and is an awesome piece of advice—if, on the surface seems a little contradictory.

The problem with this “Trust but verify” approach is when we apply it beyond its place in business, politics, treaties and drug testing Barry Bonds. I am not supposed to “Trust but verify” with my wife. I am to trust my whole heart to her. In service, in humility and as I expect to be trusted. I am to trust my whole heart to my wife, in so doing; trusting God that He perfectly selected her heart for mine—and mine for hers. (And for the record, I do trust Jill and her heart. With my heart, life and soul. Entirely. But having been hurt and cheated on before, it’s just a temptation to try & take that trust back.)

The problem, even more severely becomes damaging when I project the “trust but verify” wisdom onto God and my relationship with Him. I find too often that I’m in a place of “trust but verify” faith. It sucks.

How many of you, when you honestly contemplate, do I as I am so guilty of doing; you trust God in word, action and a sort of superficial belief, but just not with all areas of your life? Or you trust God to provide you the strength to fulfill (fill in the blank; usually an area of strength for us), but not to transform all areas of your life and heart. You may trust God fully to provide the treasure of Heaven in eternity for you, but not to “give you life more abundantly” here on earth. Do you ever pray with hope and expectation—but your expectations and hopes in God are already processed through your own self-perception and self-imposed limitations? Do we ever want to trust God to forgive you for your lust, greed, porn-addiction, laziness, pride, or placing our needs and desires above everyone else in our life? But inside, we’re convinced of the lie that we just can’t be forgiven? Or we just ‘haven’t done enough to earn God’s forgiveness’? Do we ever really want to trust God to see us through the time after a death? Maybe our financial struggles or that He is caring for the wayward family member? We want to trust God in these things…but we just don’t fully & completely trust God to do so?

Right? Anyone else? Anyone else struggle with “knowing” just how good God’s grace is, but not quite “believing” it? I know I desperately struggle with the idea of God’s future grace. That the grace and blessing He’s shown me will continue, or that it’s not just marching toward a cataclysmic collapse, so that I might spend some more time camping out in one of life’s proverbial valleys. Or, that He will ever show up & see me through one of life’s tougher times. For me. For my family. It doesn’t matter who I’m praying for…I struggle with this crucial element of my faith.

Maybe because I just can’t immediately ‘verify’? I know I want to. I know it would all be easier if some burning-but-not-quite-catching-fire-bush were to speak to me about my future. If a brother could just get an angelic visit, telling me “everything’s cool and it’s gonna be cool. Relax”. Funny, how much sense it makes to me to “Trust but verify” with everything business, everything Russian (and those looney Iranians and North Korean’s too), and everything about the IRS…and that principle can be so symbolic of a weakness or blind spot in my walk with Jesus.


Ps, Matt I’ll have a double-double, animal style. With fries