Walter Wangerin, in his book, Mourning into Dancing, tells about an event that occurred when he was a young boy. He had a hiding place in the cherry
tree in his backyard. One branch formed a horizontal fork, which was perfect for him to lie on facedown and read, think, or just be alone. His parents had no idea that this was his hiding place.
Then came the thunderstorm. I’ll let him tell the rest of the story:
One day suddenly, a wind tore through the backyard and struck my cherry tree with such force that it ripped the book from my hands and nearly threw me from the limb. I locked my arms around the forking branches and hung on. My head hung down betwee them. I tried to wind my legs around the limb, but the whole tree was wallowing in the wind… “Daddeeeeeeeeeee!”
There he was…The branches swept up and down, like huge waves on an ocean—and Daddy saw me, and right away he came out into the wind and the weather, and I felt so relieved because I just took it for granted that he would climb right up the tree to get me.
But that wasn’t his plan at all.
He came to a spot right below me and lifted his arms and shouted, “Jump.”
Jump? I had a crazy man for a father. He was standing six or seven miles beneath me, holding up two skinny arms [Walter had bragged many times about how strong his daddy was] and telling me to jump. If I jumped, he’d miss. I’d hit the ground and die…
But the wind and the rain slapped that cherry tree, bent it back and cracked my limb at the trunk. I dropped a foot. My eyes flew open. Then the wood whined and splintered and sank, and so did I, in bloody terror.
No, I did not jump. I let go. I surrendered. I fell. In a fast, eternal moment I despaired and plummeted.
This, I thought, is what it’s like to die— But my father caught me… Now in such a storm the tree which was our
stable world is shaken, and instinct makes us grab it tighter: by our own strength we grip the habits that have helped us in the past, repeating them, believing them. We’d rather trust what is than what might be: that is, our power, our reason and feeling and endurance… We spend a long time screaming No! But always, God is present. God has always been
present. And it is God who says, “Jump.”
It’s not an easy thing to trust God, but it is the very essence of the Christian faith. We are called by God, to trust not in ourselves or our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all our heart. How
do we do that?
I believe prayer is the key to trusting God. When we pray, we are saying to God: “I need your help! I can’t do this on my own! Please, Lord, help me!”
Some people think that we shouldn’t be bringing our needs and problems to God—it’s too selfish and God already knows what we need. But when Jesus taught us to pray, He said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus wants us to bring our daily needs and concerns to our Heavenly Father.
This is prayer at its most simple and basic. We come as children to our loving Father and share with Him our needs and concerns, trusting that He listens, cares, and will help us. God asks us to jump into His arms, and when we pray, we are letting go of everything we think will help and simply trusting in the strong arms of our God to catch us.
So let’s pray in this new year! Pray, pray, pray! This is the way we trust in the Lord.
Grace and Peace,