In a preceding article I asked “Do You Trust Yourself” (Click to read it), and showed that you must if you ever intend to be in the Kingdom of God. But I neglected to cover in that article HOW you can trust yourself. Just how DO you learn to trust yourself? The question is of absolutely vital importance because it is a cornerstone of faith; having your prayers answered depends more on this one question than any other. Do you trust yourself? ARE you doing everything you know to do? Are you SURE you can be trusted? And HOW can you be sure?
Today, we are expected to trust everyone; if you don’t trust a complete stranger they are offended. So we pretend to trust people, while keeping our hand on our wallet. Because no matter what we try to do, it is completely impossible to fully trust someone that has not earned that trust. But to earn trust, a small amount of trust must be gambled. You might have to trust someone with $5 before you trust them with $500, and with $500 before you trust them with $5,000. There must be risks involved, and it must be built from the ground up.
People are basically scum. The Bible says so on many occasions; “deceitful above all things, desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), that sort of thing. And no matter how you lie to yourself, you know that it is true – about other people, but most importantly about yourself as well. And so you must EARN trust. Others must earn it from you, and you must earn it from yourself…
Do you remember that big long bridge in Indiana Jones? The one that stretches across the huge canyon, made out of jungle vines and rotted wooden slats? Some of those are still in existence today. And the first time you step out on one of those bridges, you are terrified. It’s a long ways down and the ropes are really small!
And so you are very careful walking across the bridge the first time. Not sure you’re going to get to the other side. You do everything you can to avoid walking across it in the first place, actually. But eventually you make it across.
This was a gamble. But with headhunters behind you, you figured it’s a calculated risk. When you walk across that bridge the next time, you’re going to be a little less timid. Why? Because it didn’t drop you last time! And so that boosts your confidence because it worked before!
As you go across that bridge a few dozen times you’re going to have less and less trepidation each time. Finally you won’t even think about it at all, just like the locals who have walked across it thousands of times in their lifetime.
There is no shortcut to trust. That is the ONLY way you can trust that bridge. Those who put on a brave front on the outside can pretend they’re not afraid of the bridge, and pretend that they trust it; but inside they are terrified. There just is no other way to learn to trust something.
But if after walking across it a few dozen times one of the boards break and you almost tumble to your doom, you will have a renewed fear of that bridge! And so that trust will have to be renewed, in the same way it was built in the first place. Each time the bridge “lets you down” (so to speak), you will be a little less likely to ever fully trust it again.
But if the bridge gets a makeover – new ropes and planks – you can start a new level of trust. For now you can say “since the bridge was upgraded it has never let me down!” It doesn’t matter if you have been let down by that bridge a hundred times in the past, it never let you down since the “new era” began!
And so you can have complete trust, as complete as if it were never violated in the first place, because from the time you began anew on that bridge, it has never failed you. Now if you were drunk and fell off the bridge, that can hardly be blamed on the bridge! That was your fault! So there is no reason not to trust the bridge because of that.
Everything you will ever trust will behave exactly as the bridge did. You will be a little nervous the first time you get in a helicopter. The first time you trust someone to take $10,000 cash to the bank for you. The first time you tell someone a secret that no one must ever know. And the first time you are put in a position where you must trust yourself not to sin… where the only thing standing between you and stealing is yourself… you will be a little nervous.
That’s to be expected and it’s a good thing. It means you should be on your guard, because when you first walk across that bridge, it’s a wise move to hang onto the rail tightly! So if it DOES fall out from under you, you’ll have a backup line of defense. But once you’ve gone through it a few times, it’s not such a big deal, and eventually you won’t even think about it.
And so what if you’ve been an untrustworthy creep all your life – when you’re revamped spiritually, when you make a commitment to change such things, you can trust yourself based on the time from that day forward! So that you have NEVER let yourself down since you got new planks on your bridge! This builds powerful trust in yourself, and it’s how you build trust in anything – man, God, or machine!
Psalms 71:1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.
And if that trust is ever broken – if you sin and let yourself down, if God doesn’t answer your prayer, or if the helicopter crashes… it will be awhile before you can fully trust it again. You will be scared of trusting it again. The only way to stop that is to figure out WHY it didn’t work. Why the helicopter failed. WHY God didn’t answer your prayer. WHY you allowed yourself to be overcome by temptation. Until you know WHY, and FIX it, you will never be able to fully trust again.
But once you have replaced that rotted board in your bridge of reliability, you can again trust yourself knowing that you have never let yourself down since you fixed that fault. You may discover a good number of the boards are rotted… but you keep replacing them and ultimately you must have a completely solid bridge.
Psalms 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
When you are done with that, you’ll be thoroughly familiar with every plank in your psyche; you’ll know exactly how far you can be trusted and with what. You’ll know how far God can be trusted, and with what – and just when He will and when He won’t answer you, and why. You’ll know these things in a way that it is impossible to ever just “believe”. No fool can ever just blindly roll the dice on these things with the confidence that you can do them. Because you KNOW how sound the bridge is, and KNOW that it will support you. Why? Because it’s never failed you.
If it were just given to you, somehow magically one day you HAD trust in yourself, trust in God, trust in everything, it would be meaningless. It would be like a child who had no idea that the rope bridge could be dangerous. He could walk and dance across that bridge without the slightest fear. But when the first plank broke, He would be totally unprepared for it; and not knowing why it broke, or how to fix it, he could never feel safe on that bridge again. It might take years to overcome the trauma and get back on that bridge. The Apostles went through this exact problem.
See, today, we don’t see God. He works in the shadows and answers prayers and such in, while sometimes dramatic, nonetheless “explainable” ways. For example you’re healed, but you might have gotten better anyway. You found a job, but you might have found it anyway. That sort of thing. So as we build faith, the slow way I have been describing, we do it one step at a time.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
One step at a time, one bit of faith, one gamble that pays off that leads to another slightly larger gamble that pays off that leads us to faith in God. And so that faith is hard for anyone to take away from us. It’s ours, we built it, we KNOW why and how we got it. And often we envy the Apostles, walking with Jesus, watching thousands of miracles a day, letting the power of God become as accepted in our minds as the sun rising. But that actually hurt the apostles.
Acts 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
This power of God was incredible at the first. The apostles were so overcome by the certainty of the power of God that Peter’s mere shadow healed people. But as time went by, this certainty waned. The excitement wore off, and we find Peter being accused of bigotry by Paul in Galatians 2:11-14. We don’t find reports of these dramatic healings in Peter’s later life, or the life of any of the other Apostles.
Paul worked mighty miracles at first as well; having just been in the third heaven and trained by God for three years in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). He blinded the sorcerer, and just sending out pieces of his clothing healed people (Acts 19:11-12). But later in life we find that he left Trophimus sick, unhealed. (2 Timothy 4:20). We find Paul himself was refused a healing in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. In short, we can see that these men started out with great power and faith, great belief in themselves, but this power waned as it was tested. The childlike faith that they had in God and in themselves was eroded by time, because it had been handed to them as a gift.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
We all have this measure. And the more God gives up front, the harder it is to hold on to it. On the other hand, the harder those early choices are for us to make – the scarier that rope bridge is in the beginning – the more powerful will be our faith when we see that it actually did support us.
Whereas the apostles, for whom the bridge was shiny and easy, and for whom the bridge had supported Jesus in thousands of miracles, and had no doubts that it would support them – when they made mistakes later in life, mistakes that compromised their faith and prevented God from answering them, they did not know why. They hadn’t built their trust – their faith – the hard way, they had received it without working for it. And so holding on to it became a full time job.
Most of us have to do the hardest things first. And once we make the hard choices, the tough sacrifices, take the scary walks out into thin air on faith… it’s all downhill from there. And, at least in principle, we can build our faith much stronger than anyone who had it easier. Because we KNOW the rock on which our foundation sets. We KNOW how we got here, and if we should fall off the bridge like Peter did, we know exactly what we must do to get back on it again. We know how to trust ourselves. And no one can ever take that away from us.