In the Shoes of Trust

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Lately I have found myself thinking a lot about the specifics of the early Church. I wonder about what it looked like to live so close to the person of Christ. I am mystified by the development of the Christian faith and the wanderings of St. Peter. I think about the shock and amazement of St. Mary Magdalene upon discovering that the tomb was empty. I admire the conviction with which St. Stephen lived in order to face the sentence of being stoned to death for the cause of Christ. I consider the transformation of all the followers of Jesus: from the tradition of adhering to every Judaic law in the Old Testament to taking on the newest and most perfect law of Jesus to love one’s greatest enemy. I marvel at the amount of utter dependence the first disciples must have had on God’s providence in order to carry out this mission to reach the entirety of humanity with the gospel. I think about the word trust and what that meant for the first Christians, what that means for me now.

I contemplate extensive questions, and sometimes there are certain stories that capture me in such a way that I can’t help but pause to put myself in the shoes of a particular character. In this case, I pause at the story of Ananias in the Acts of the Apostles.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord,’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay hands on him, that he may regain his sight.’ But Ananias replied, ‘Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.’ So Ananias went…
— Acts 9:10-17

I can’t be sure what exactly Ananias’s vision from the Lord looked like or sounded like, but I can attempt to put myself in his shoes in the best way I know how. If I had a sense that the Lord was asking me to walk up to the person who was actively imprisoning and oppressing the very type of person that I am, my stomach would twist with sickness and fear. I wonder if my choice would be to trust in God if presented with this horrifying circumstance. According to everything that I know, according to the information that I have and anything I can possibly make sense of in my own head, Saul is my enemy and I would be walking into my death if I willingly approached him.

But Ananias, after one brief question, to which the Lord again replied, ‘Go,’ acted immediately. Ananias didn’t ask about the step following his laying of hands on Saul, nor did he ask ‘What if Saul’s heart isn’t really transformed and he sends me to be tortured?’ Ananias didn’t bring an army as a security blanket to make sure he wouldn’t be assaulted, and he didn’t require a plan B of God. He didn’t labor extensively in his head over the various scenarios that could occur should he choose to obey, nor did he make the choice to commit to doubt by not making any decision at all. He acted, in the moment, immediately after he received his instructions.

This is trust. To trust is to take the step in front of me because it is the only step I am being asked to take. To trust is to ask questions, but not to be governed by the discomfort of not knowing all the answers. To trust is to receive and take action before the entire picture is painted, knowing that my ‘Yes’ is critical for the painting to be continued. To trust is to brush a stroke not knowing if there is enough paint to complete the original idea; to begin a dialogue with someone without the certainty of knowing how they feel or what is ruminating in their head. To trust is to be satisfied with the now and to let go of the next.

Dear Jesus, help me to make decisions based on the picture I know you have created instead of the incomplete one that I am trying to make sense of. You are the author and I am your handmaid. Have mercy on me in the midst of my lack of faith in you, and give me grace to trust in your providing hand.