In discussion during meals with different friends recently, there has been a trend. We each seem to be realizing that the lessons we thought we had learned previously were recurring – primarily on the topic of trusting God. We thought we had learned to trust God and prefer his plan to ours through our different experiences, but now we were confronting new situations, and we were disappointed in ourselves for being so conflicted.
Why was it so hard; hadn’t we learned to trust God? Had those trials been for naught? One of my friends concluded, though, that we’re not regressing. He suggested that the discomfort is simply an invitation to trust more and love God better.
At first, I thought his solution fell flat. If I had learned the concept, shouldn’t I be able to apply it to anything? If I can’t translate my trust in God from one situation to another, did I ever really trust him in the first place? How legitimate is my trust if it’s so circumstantial?
But then I considered trust less as a concept and more as a skill. Skills should always be developed, and they can be difficult to apply to new situations – but this is exactly their purpose. The challenge of new situations is par for the course of improving a skill; and with such skills, you never really reach perfection. Consider learning how to ski on one particular path or learning how to play the piano using a single song. You know how to ski or play piano, but when you apply it to a new path or song (as you must, to claim it as a skill), it’s necessarily going to involve some challenges and adaptation as you learn how to navigate the new rough patches and tricky measures. It will take time and practice to adapt to the new situation, but you are not relearning the skill itself.
I think it is such in life. After a variety of plans are upturned and we see them result for the better, we understand the concept of trusting God. We realize that life is too complicated to plan out every detail, and we loosen our hold of the reins; we learn to trust God in that situation.
But time goes on, and we find ourselves in new circumstances with different variables. We have to address the challenge of applying the concept we learned; the concept of “trust” has become a skill, and “trusting” can be tricky.
To return to the skiing analogy, if we are on a new course and take a curve too fast and wipe out, it doesn’t mean we have no grasp of skiing. We do know how to ski, and that is exactly what gets us back on our feet to try again. Maybe we’ll wipeout another three times, maybe another seven. After practice and perseverance, though, we’ll learn how to handle the curve, and eventually, we’ll master that course. And then it will be time to move on to the next one, anticipating wipeouts and all.
Trusting God will always be complicated by new situations introducing new difficulties. But confronting such challenges doesn't mean we should despair of our ability to trust God. I can truthfully say that I trust God. I’ve got the concept down. But trusting God is a daily task and a skill I’ll be working on for the rest of my life. It can be hard; and that’s okay.