..demons love darkness and hiddenness. Inner fears and struggles which remain isolated develop great power over us. But when we talk about them in a spirit of trust, they they can be looked at and dealt with. Once brought into the light of mutual love, demons lose their power and quickly leave us. Henri Nouwen The Road to Daybreak
Return to Innocence – Raise the dead: animate and reenergize what once was alive
(part three of four)
OK, we’ve established that unhealthy fear equals death and wise trust equals life. So how do we cooperate with life? How do we return to trust?
We are bound to trust, what matters is who and what we trust. From this decision point comes either death or life. Jeremiah 17:5-10 announces our reality.
5 Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. 6 They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
We are not cursed because we trust in mere mortals and flesh and blood, rather because we trust in mere mortals and flesh and blood we are cursed. That’s reality. People will always disappoint us. Depending on imperfect people to meet our needs will leave us empty and dry. Others are busy trying to get their own needs satisfied, they cannot offer us the complete nourishment and relief we need to thrive.
This first step in learning to trust is to admit and repent of this practice. (Repent means to think about things in a completely different light and as a result of this new thinking, change our habits and our practices.) Such a repentance also makes room for true relationships to grow. When I quit seeing you through the very narrow lens of being the answer to a particular need of mine, I can see the whole of you. You are not my fix, you can become my friend.
7 Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.
Trusting the Lord is born out of remembrance. Returning to what we know is true. God is faithful. God’s salvation is thorough. God provides streams of living water that hydrate and nourish our lives. Even in difficult seasons of life, we’ve witnessed God’s provision. Recall and re-experience what your life was like when your heart was turned away from God, remember the darkness? the lostness? the fear? Remember the joy of being found, of coming home. God never changes. He is always and constantly loving and good. Practice trusting this and act accordingly.
As I mentioned before, God is a god of reality and the truth is that fear is deeply embedded in our psyche and our being. We may mentally agree with the Biblical statements about God being all loving and good, yet we cannot generate a feeling of security and confidence in God’s trustworthiness. This is not news to God! The next step of learning to trust addresses this issue. It is a difficult process and may take most of our life to accomplish. We must allow God access to the areas of mistrust in our hearts and souls.
9 The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it? 10 I, the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.
It’s like your soul is a piece of saran wrap that has been rolled up into a ball. It is practically impossible to smooth out, doing so requires great patience and persistence. Both of which God has in abundance. Slowly, steadily the Holy Spirit will enter a place of fear within your experience, shedding light on the ways you distrust God, offering an invitation to trust. The decision is yours, to trust God or to trust yourself; you will bear the fruit of this decision.
Practical steps of implementing this trust will be addressed in the next and final installment of the article Return to Innocence.
(This material is based on the Shaped at the Garden retreat. For information about this retreat contact me or refer to the upcoming events section.)