A friend of mine turned me on to Lectio 365 and one particular week, they were working through the Questions of Jesus. On the Thursday of that week, I think, the question was all about Jesus asking his disciples: “Do you Trust Me?” The meditation ended with the call to action to ask what question God might have of us.
So I did just that.
And what should happen but God asked me the very same question: “Do you trust me?”
Immediately, I knew exactly what that question was about, and what exactly I was supposed to trust God with. And, more to the point, I immediately knew my answer:
“Yes. I do trust you. Just not as much as I want to. … Don’t you see what’s happening?”
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1
This past Easter Weekend, Holy Saturday to be exact, I was sitting on my patio at the convent where I was staying. The sisters had graciously agreed to let me stay there for a longer period, after an abrupt need to move out of my housing situation. I had been there a little over a week at that point, and on that foggy Saturday morning, drinking a cup of coffee, I was reflecting on how peaceful life had been that past week, and how relaxed I felt.
And at that very moment, God said, “Now that you’ve had a chance to collect your thoughts, and remove all your distractions, I have some things I need to show you.”
Some things. What an understatement. From that Saturday morning, until Monday afternoon, I wrote a full 45 pages of college lined note paper. And it continued after that, though not with the same intensity, for another month. During that time, I told a few of my friends that I saw a transformation happening; or rather, that God had a transformation in store for me, and that I could vaguely see the end result, but that it frightened me, because I knew that who I would be was radically different from who I was.
And those changes came, step by step. Graciously, with a few weeks, or even a month of reprieve in between them, until we came to this question of trust.
Until this question where I had to say, “I do trust you, but not as much as I want.” When what I really meant was: “I trust you, as long as you let me stay in the boat. Those waves look frightening.”
Several years ago, in the process toward ordination, I had a set back, which left me shocked and confused. The next day I sat on the patio of the church, and spoke to God, asking, “I thought you wanted me to do this?” By which I meant ordination. God replied, “I did want you to do this. And I do want you to do this.” To which I had to reply, “Were you not paying attention? Did you not see what just happened?” And a smiling God replied, “Trust me. You will do this. Just not right now.”
Hope. Hope of things to come, but as yet unseen.
So many years later, the path is coming to completion. But not without being tossed around by the waves of doubt and uncertainty in the process. My friends could tell you stories about my ranting and raving, my confusion and doubts, my questioning, and ultimately my repeated return to the promise. Until I learned to walk in it, unwavering, seeing only the hope, and not the waves.
I am gifted with a great imagination, and an analytical mind, and getting out of the boat, like Peter, to walk on the water toward a promise God has given me, makes me realize just how big those waves of doubt and uncertainty can be. Like a heads up display, I see every possible scenario, both good and bad, with its probability firmly floating above the wave, either granting hope, or threatening impending doom.
Just like Peter, I focus on the waves and their clear probabilities so proudly displayed above them to indicate how much credence I should give them. I see the unseen, the imagined, and grant them more confidence than they deserve.
Until I find a thin sliver of a thread that glistens with divine mercy in the spraying mist of this emotional ocean. And when I focus on the thread, I follow it through the waves until I see a smiling God standing at the other end, reminding me: “This is my promise.” And suddenly the waves of unreal, probable scenarios are gone, and the sea is calm; I see only the promise, not the imagined tidal waves of destruction.
And this lasts sometimes a day, sometimes three, sometimes a week. Until I focus on the probability waves again, and lose sight of the unseen promise represented in that glowing thread of hope that leads directly to the sacred heart of Jesus.
Though it feels like it, this cyclical, emotional buffeting on the unseen waves of doubt and uncertainty is not insanity.
It is merely the process of developing my water walking legs.
Different seas require different legs. And no sea, no area of my life, will be entirely without the waves of doubt and uncertainty, but the more often I am willing to get out of that boat to walk on the water toward the open arms of God, the easier it will be to keep my balance and my direction when next I am confronted with ambiguity and unbelief.
Mike is a jack of all trades. He’s a data analyst, programmer, and loves to cook. If he doesn’t have his face buried in a book or is staring blankly at a computer screen, you can find him on a motorcycle, enjoying the ride.
Mike holds a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is a candidate for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. He attended Sewanee School of Theology for a year of Anglican Studies in the Fall of 2022, and graduated in May of 2023.