Can we have trust in a person, event or object without faith? These two concepts are most commonly used in the religious context when we are speaking, thinking and writing about them; almost always we do so with a great attention to the ‘mystery’ of trust or the ‘blindness’ of faith.
And yet, each day, as we go about our lives the two words are foundational to each of our most mundane activities, especially those of the most secular and profane. We arise each day, armed with a long list of persons, events and objects in which we have invested a large dose of faith and trust…that we seldom consider.
Here’s what I mean.
We wake up each day unsurprised by the fact that we did so; that we switch from total lack of awareness-sleep- to total awareness, instantly. Nor are we blown away when the complex, intricate and stunningly precise systems known as our bodies respond instantly to commands like brushing teeth, working out in the gym and writing articles and books.
Night becomes day.
Out of 1000 acts of sexual intercourse, a pregnancy.
Fall in love.
We live immersed in an ocean of mystery and miracle that mostly, we don’t consider. The concepts are intertwined: If we trust then we have faith. One potentiates the other, the absence of one diminishes the other.
The catalyst for this line of thought is a few paragraphs out of Exodus I read about a week ago.; a section I’ve read many times but read without thinking. They’ve been led though the Red Sea- they are safe and have arrived at a place where God wants to give them something…something precious- an offer which may never again occur.
God explains to Moses exactly what He wants told to the Israelites:
You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on Eagle’s wings and brought you here to myself…Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people….You shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
The people are given a precise series of instructions they are to follow over the subsequent three days, to get ready for the coming of the Lord down the mountain, Mount Sinai. To a person, they claim they will do everything they have been told to do.
But on the morning of the third day, the coming down of God is preceded by thunder and lightning and loud trumpet blasts. And everyone got scared.
So they took up a position farther away and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us and we shall listen; but let not God speak to us or we shall die. Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid, for God has come to you only to test you and to put his fear upon you, lest you should sin.’ Still the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the cloud where God was.
It’s the story of each one of us, isn’t it? Something happens outside of the box of our limited experience with the world about us and our temptation-overwhelming at times- is to run away and hide. Protect ourselves from the vulnerability imposed by the very existence of our tenuous faith, our oh so tentative trust. And it is the same with Him.