Learning to Trust from the 108th Floor

I can remember sitting in church when I was a child and singing wonderful songs that talked about the need to trust Jesus. I am sure you remember many of them as well.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at his word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to say, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’
Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him
How I proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus
or for grace to trust Him more.

Trust and obey for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Those are two songs among dozens that speak of the power that comes from trusting Jesus. I have an application on my iPhone that provides C.S. Lewis quotes daily. The quote for Nov. 1 notes Lewis saying, “To have faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus, if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.”

Perhaps I am weaker than most, but I have to admit I have difficulty “trusting” Jesus in the way that the hymn writers and Lewis spoke of – to place one’s life fully in the hands of Christ. For some reason, I always seem to think that God really helps those who help themselves. He has gifted us and expects us to work to get things done. While I’m sure there is truth in that concept, I know that it is not where Christ would have me to be.

I was reminded of trusting this past week in China. Between meetings, our Chinese friends like to make sure I see some of the interesting things in their country. While in Guangzhou, we went up the tallest structure in the world, the Canton Tower. On the 108th floor is a spectacular view of one of the largest cities in the world. You can walk around the entire floor and look in every direction. In one corner, there is a little room, rectangular, that extends about 15 meters outside the structure of the floor made entirely of glass. When you walk out onto that floor, you look straight down more than 1,000 feet.

I must admit: I could not walk out into that room. Many of you know that I do not like heights. I can go up, but I don’t like it. Fred Gregory and Thomas Peng walked out into the room and took pictures like everyone else – it was obviously the thing to do. Yet every time I walked up to the room my heart started racing, I looked down, and all I could see was a whole lot of empty space. Now rationally I had seen many people walk into the room and no one had fallen. The glass on the floor was thick and provided plenty of strength to walk on. (In fact, at the time we were in the tower, a window washer was walking around the outside washing the windows!) There was no difference between the floor strength of the little glass room and that of the room I was standing on. The difference, of course, was that I could see – and what I could see suggested to my brain there was a high probability I could fall.

In reality, I did not want to leave the floor having not tried to go into the glass room. Fred came up and gave me the secret: “Robin, don’t look down. Just walk into the room like normal and look right back at us. That’s what I did.” Well, I tried Fred’s strategy, and it worked. The picture is proof that I did not “chicken out.”

Sometimes I think trusting Jesus is as hard for me as walking out into that glass room. I know all the Scriptures and the words of Jesus in the Bible. I know intellectually that God created the world. I know he created us uniquely and that he seeks to know us. I know he desires the best for my life and that he works to “order my steps.” In my mind I know these things, but then I open my eyes and it just doesn’t seem to be true. The evidence around me suggests often the opposite – suffering, pain and death. I have a good friend who is dying of cancer, and a child I know is stricken with leukemia. My eyes and mind speak to me of a world where God seems absent. Instead of stepping out in faith, I recoil thinking that God may not be there. “Better to stay here in safety than to risk a steep fall.”

You may say, “It is kind of weird for a president of a Christian college to admit that he has problems trusting Jesus.” It may be, but it is true. Fortunately, God puts people in my path like Fred who are encouragers and who say: “Robin, it is not as hard as you think. Step this way and you will find that God will be with you each step of the way.”

So, I am often a reluctant man of faith – believing but lacking trust. Like the words of the great hymn writer, I seek for more “grace to trust Him more.”

I have to admit, I still did not like stepping out on that 108th floor.

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One Response to Learning to Trust from the 108th Floor

  1. Mayowa Aribisala says:

    Well Hi I hust wanted to say that I am not a member at GFU yet but would like to be in fall 2013. I just wanted to let you know that i enjoy reading all of your articles Mr.Baker. I can’t wait to come visit GFU this summer and attend the school 2013.