I had coffee with Brennan Manning this morning,* and he said something suspiciously simple—“if we could free ourselves from the temptation to make faith a mindless assent to a dusty pawnshop of doctrinal beliefs, we would discover with alarm that the essence of biblical faith lies in trusting God.”
(Mindless assent, has he ever met a Presbyterian?)
The essence of biblical faith is trust?
Not belief? Not righteousness? Not justice?
Not worship, or Repentance, or Surrender, or Sacrifice or Torah?
That’s too simple to be true…and yet
What did Abraham do but trust God? (What did Eve do wrong but not?)
Noah trusted (Cain registered a protest, then neutralized a threat)
David trusted (Solomon worked)
Joseph trusted (Jacob schemed)
Daniel trusted (and his fiery friends did too)
Moses tried to free his people on his own
(and ended up a fugitive with blood on his hands)
only when he trusted God to redeem
did he become a redeemer.
but only after good ol’ Uncle Mordecai told her to (I really hate the story of Esther)
The women don’t do so well in the Hebrew Bible
But the woman at the well,
The Syro-Phoenician woman,
The woman with the alabaster jar,
The woman with the issue of blood
The widow with a mite
These nameless women rose up
Maybe because there was no earthly thing worthy of their trust
They trusted the God no one really knew
Led by Mother Mary—who said, “I am the Lord’s servant,
Let it be with me according to your will’
(more glorious than any magnificat in my view)
And with those words, God became flesh in her
“The essence of biblical faith is trust” says my friend Brennan
maybe not such a preposterous claim—
and not so simple either.
These are not simple stories.
They bear the truth of Brennan’s other claim:
That “trust will not dispel confusion,
redeem the times…
drive out chaos or pain.”
Trust doesn’t prevent the shadow of the cross from failing on our lives,
only shows us what to say when it does:
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit
Nothing changes in us when we think thoughts about God—
even when we think them vigorously and mindfully.
(when faith seeks understanding?)
But when we say
I trust you God
In a way that means giving you my life—even though I know
That when I lay my life down and you pick it up
You will change it
shape it in ways that I cannot imagine
(Leave this land,
Build a boat,
Say to Pharoah
Go to Ninevah,
Take this Bread)
Change it in ways that I, as yet, do not desire
Still “against insurmountable obstacles and without a clue as to the outcome”
When we trust God with our lives
Not in theory, but in practice
Saying with God’s mother
let it be with me according to your will
And with God’s son
into your hands I commend my spirit
Maybe Brennan is right,
only then does faith begin.
Only then are we born again.
-Rev. Kate Murphy
*Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning
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