Most United Church members have uttered the words, “We trust in God.” The phrase is at the heart of A New Creed, one of the United Church’s faith statements. But can we really trust God?
Thomas Merton, a 20th-century American Catholic writer and mystic, wrote a prayer in his 1956 book, Thoughts in Solitude. Known as “The Merton Prayer,” it begins like this: “My God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.”
This prayer seems like a good one for those of us in the church these days. We have no idea where we are going. Glimpses, perhaps, but no clear way emerging. There are more questions than answers, more concerns than clarity.
Trust isn’t easy. It requires intentional work. We experience mistrust and then become skeptical, even cynical. Why should I trust God when the world is full of injustice? How can I trust God amid the fragility of my life? Do we ever fully trust God?
When we recite A New Creed together, we may need others to say the line “We trust in God.” The words do not always come easily, so we rely on the Body of Christ. Trusting in God may be a solitary act at times, but it is fundamentally a community posture. We trust in God together.
Trusting God takes time, perhaps a lifetime. I’m not sure we ever get it right, but trust is a way, a journey, a posture that orients us toward God. By trusting, we learn to trust. By acting in faith, we come to know further dimensions of faith. To trust is to lean into the unknown and find life in that mystery.
We may not have clarity about the future, let alone the present. And yet, this does not need to render us immobile. Passivity in the face of uncertainty runs counter to the Gospel. Trusting is not inactive. In reality, trusting God means that we act with confidence (con, with; fide, faith). To trust is to act with faith.
As a United Church, we have a long history of acting with faith. Our faith compels us to grow, work, remember and move forward. Our unfolding story informs our present reality, which summons us to trust with confidence.
God continues to be at work in the world. God’s mission has a church, and it is a great privilege to be part of that ongoing revelation. God makes visible ways for us to participate in this mission. The challenge for us is to notice and trust those ways.
Can we also dare to imagine that God trusts us? God trusts you and me. God trusts The United Church of Canada and the Body of Christ. God trusts that we will find a way together. In our unity as part of this Body, we can dare to trust God because God dares to trust us. God takes enormous risks for the sake of the world and trusts us with this work.
Toward the end of his prayer, Merton writes, “Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
We belong to one another, and in this belonging we have confidence. God is up to something. How much should I trust in God? Whatever you can offer. The rest is Grace.
Rev. Keith Reynolds is a minister at Southampton-Mount Hope (Ont.) Pastoral Charge.
Keep it free!
If you enjoy reading our online stories about ethical living, justice and faith, please make a donation to the Friends of The Observer Fund. Supporting our award-winning journalism will help you and others to continue to access ucobserver.org for free in the months to come.