“WHO DO YOU TRUST?”
August 3, 2007
Thirty-eight years later it remains one of my most terrifying memories. I will never forget the paralyzing fear which gripped my soul and shattered my meager self-confidence that day. With my heart in my throat and my common sense obviously nowhere to be found, I approached one of the most intimidating individuals I had ever met to ask for the greatest earthly favor one could ever receive.
“Mr. Crowder,” I began, attempting to disguise the quiver in my voice by raising my volume. Unfortunately, the enormous lump in my throat made the words burst forth in a high-pitched squeak. Clearing my throat I wiped the sweat from my forehead and started in again. “Mr. Crowder,” I repeated, this time making my voice sound as deep and manly as I could under the circumstances, “I’d like to ask you for the hand of your daughter in marriage.”
The father of my beloved stared at me with eyes so intense I thought he was piercing me through with a pair of lasers. He was a World War II veteran, fiercely patriotic and extremely conservative. His hardened features bore testimony to a difficult life striving to provide for his family. He stood before me in the living room of his Colorado home and leaned against his cane which supported an artificial leg, the result of an automobile accident years earlier. I cowered in front of him just out of reach of that lethal walking stick. Despite his disability and the almost constant pain he was forced to endure, he had managed to carve out a living for his wife and two daughters as a small instrument repairman for an airline. He had taken the worst that life had to offer and rose above it all. But asking him to give up his daughter was a blow from which I had no idea how he might react.
Facing him that day was a trembling, twenty-year-old music major still attending college some 900 miles away, a campus peace activist with long hair and a disdain for anything reeking of the establishment. As I look back on that unreal, mismatched encounter, if the roles had been reversed, I believe I would have shot the naïve, immature, impudent little kid who dared to steal my daughter’s heart. “Who does this low-life think he is, making such an absurd request?” As it happened, Joe simply stared at me with those haunting eyes and said nothing. The silence seemed to last an eternity which provided ample time to give birth to a flurry of disturbing thoughts in my already terrified mind. Am I imagining it or is his hand slowly closing into a fist? Is he waiting while he ponders how best to arrange for my demise? Is he planning where to hide my body? Just as I was about to run for my life he finally cracked his tight lips just barely enough to reveal the gold crowns on his teeth and spoke without changing his stern expression.
“Just how do you plan on making a living?” he growled.
After a sincere yet highly inadequate answer from his future son-in-law he responded with a question of his own, one which I have never forgotten, one which has become increasingly meaningful to me as I have endured the bitter-sweet duty of giving away two daughters of my own.
“Do you understand I am entrusting one of my life’s two greatest treasures with you?”
Joe’s voice had changed from that of a deep and threatening drill-sergeant to a cracked, impassioned, almost whispered plea. Why did his heart soften toward this less-than-sterling choice his daughter had made for a husband? Perhaps he was able to see me not as I was at the time, but as I could be with the help of God; not through his own eyes, but through the loving eyes of his little girl. His daughter’s choice had become his choice as well. In love he was able to look forward to the joyful day of our wedding.
For the last 38 years I have done my best to be worthy of his trust. As a father of two precious daughters I know the feeling of being convinced that this world has never given birth to any man worthy of being entrusted with either of these treasures. But following Joe’s example, I have found the will to hand them both over to the men they have chosen. I am proud to declare that my trust in both of these men has been affirmed and my love for them is stronger than ever. I have learned that true love, though often painful, must be unconditional and trust is a mutually shared commodity. To be complete, love and trust must flow in both directions. When I was reminded of this lesson the other day, however, I was taken totally by surprise.
In the midst of a prolonged period of fasting and prayer a few weeks ago I was convinced by a Christian friend to try writing down what I felt the Lord was saying to me. My wife, Babs, and I have been feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the harvest in this area and discouraged by our own inadequacies in making much of a difference for the kingdom of God. By seeking the Lord together in prayer and fasting we were hoping to receive some direction and encouragement in our ministry. I had engaged in spiritual journaling in the past and I was eager to pick up the habit once again. But I was not prepared for the impact of the very first entry in my journal. After reading in God’s Word one morning followed by a time of passionate prayer and worship, I simply asked the Lord if He had anything to say to me.
“Bill, do you trust me?”
There was no audible voice but I believe I clearly heard Him speaking into my spirit. After recording the message I wrote down my response.
“Yes, Lord,” I answered, excited to be communicating with the Divine yet somewhat apprehensive about what else I might hear. Displaying my own lack of self-confidence I quickly added, “But I do not trust myself.” The Lord’s reply flowed so quickly and effortlessly from my pen I really don’t remember it passing first through my own mind. When I saw what I had written I dropped my pen and stared at the words in disbelief.
“Do you trust me to trust you?”
You must understand that my faith heritage is very conservative. I grew up believing God no longer communicates with His children in such ways. For those of you who may be traveling a similar pathway, I apologize. However, I am convinced those words did not come from me. But, oh, how encouraging this message has been!
As I meditated on those words I began to explore all their implications. For most of my life I have struggled to trust God completely. Now He was proclaiming His trust in me. But why would the creator of the universe place His trust in this mistake-prone, weak-willed, sinful creature? Perhaps it is because He sees me not for who I am, but for who I am in Jesus; not through the eyes of the world, but through the loving eyes of His Son. I was reminded that true love is unconditional and covenant trust is a mutually shared commodity. To be complete, love and trust must flow in both directions.
So with what is God willing to trust me? He trusts me with His spiritual gifts and talents and with the ministry of the Gospel. …I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. – Jude 3. He trusts me to minister to those He sends my way who are in need of a tangible expression of His love. He trusts me to be a witness of the wonderful grace of Jesus to those I encounter who do not yet know Him. He trusts me to be a suitable home for His Spirit. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Sprit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? – 1Cor. 6:19.
Here’s the shocker. He actually trusts me with His Son! For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son… – Jn. 3:16. In my mind I pictured a star-struck Jesus going before His Father and asking to be bound in covenant with me. “I know love is blind but get real, Son. Don’t you know what a low-life this guy is?” That’s what I would expect God to say—but He didn’t. The Son’s choice has become the Father’s choice as well. The love of His Only Begotten covers all my faults and God is pleased to welcome me into His family as one of His trusted sons. As both the Father of the bride and the Groom, He is looking forward to the wedding celebration soon to come and an eternity of glorious joy to follow. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. – Rev. 19:7.
How does it change your view of yourself to realize that God has placed His trust in you; that even as you struggle to believe in Him He has declared His belief in you; that while you strive to have confidence in His unfailing love, He has no problem having confidence in you; that He has faith in you, hope in you, and vital ministry assignments for you; that He loves you more than you can possibly imagine, even after the times when you fail Him?
What He spoke into my heart that morning He says to each one of us. “Do you trust me to trust you?” I don’t know about you, but knowing this makes me desire to be all the more worthy of His trust, and all the more faithful with the ministry He has entrusted to me. We love because he first loved us. – 1Jn. 4:19.
Bill, a trusting and trusted child of God