To Trust With Total Abandon

MY REACTIONS TO IT RANGE from resigned acceptance to disgust to outrage. I’m talking about the pervasive, cynical calculation that motivates nearly every action in this world. I realize that this has been a part of human sinfulness from Eden on down, but that doesn’t make it any easier to abide.

It seems that nearly everybody has an agenda. From the moment you wake up each morning, you’re bombarded with a din of voices calling out to you, trying to snare your attention. Sometimes it feels as if the onslaught is nonstop. They want to persuade you—and usually, with the goal of getting you to part with what you’ve worked hard to earn. They seem intent on winning the battle for your mind—to enlist you in their cause, to support their opinion or viewpoint, to set aside your own thinking or principles in favor of theirs.

To that end, perhaps the most effective tactic is to present lies as truth—to hide the real motive of self-interest behind a façade of caring for your interests.

The essence of “good” marketing and advertising is to know what motivates people. Not surprisingly, what motivates people is their own self-interest. So every print or Internet ad, TV commercial, or radio spot seeks to make the case that you’ll experience a great benefit if only you fork over some cash or credit for the product being promoted—or buy into a certain idea or agenda or allegiance. The same applies to the talking heads and pundits of TV news, to the spokespersons and political propagandists of the government, and even TV preachers.

To cite just one example source: “Fair and balanced”? Hardly. “No-spin zone”? Prepare to whirl till you’re dizzy. “We’re looking out for you”? Sell it somewhere else—I’m not buying.

Little children are marvelous in their ability to trust. We all start out that way. But soon enough, our trust is disappointed—we get burned, we’re let down as we run straight into the reality of human untruthfulness. We learn soon enough to look for the hook, the catch, the attached strings, the fine print that cancels out what the big-print headline promises. And the pain and disappointment we experience make us cautious, wary, suspicious.

Unfortunately, that guardedness and skepticism typically also invades our spiritual life, so that we expect God Himself to be no more reliable than the human beings around us. We’re afraid to believe that His promises can be relied on—afraid to risk approaching Him with the faith we had as children. Since we live in a world where “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” then if—as He routinely does—God too says things that sound too good to be true, we’re already conditioned to be skeptical.

I don’t want to live my life in cynical, doubting, fearful suspicion. I don’t want to completely lose the ability to trust with which I came into this world. I also want to stay true to my own code—my own ethics and principles—and not be co-opted into caving to anyone else’s self-serving agenda.

To do that, it is absolutely mandatory that I immerse myself enough in the Word to know—and be regularly reminded of—what truth really is. If I do that enough, I can’t be bought or sold. I can’t be programmed into mindless, robotic responses. I won’t sell my convictions on the cheap. And I’ll avoid becoming hard and distrusting and cynical. Yes, I’ll accept the reality of human dishonesty and deviousness, but I’ll stay connected to the Source of pure integrity. And I’ll nurture my ability to trust that Source implicitly, even while immersed in a sea of rampant doubt and falsehoods.

When one of my daughters was still a preschooler, I’d place her on a ledge in our house and invite her to jump down into my arms. She’d instantly and fearlessly launch herself into space—with no doubt whatsoever that I’d catch her. Had I not—had I stepped aside—she’d have plunged to the floor with disastrous results. But she knew beyond question that her daddy would catch her.

In a world of suspicious cynicism, I want to be able to take that same leap of faith in trusting my God with total abandon.

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