Trusting the Unknown
What is your first reaction when you sense a change about to occur in your life? Do you panic, run through a list of things in your head that could go wrong or have in the past? Do you lose sleep, wonder how you will cope, and when the situation will sort itself out? Who will you go to for the answers?
All these very human responses probably crossed the minds of the disciples while traveling with Jesus as they initiated their ministries. There were no rules or guides for them, other than their faith in God and their belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah. How could their hearts not be troubled? Can you imagine coming home to your spouse to share the news? It probably would be exhilarating, at first, to be heading home after spending time with Jesus, feeling the joy of his message deep in your soul, knowing who you had met, and aligning your work with his. But then, you catch a glimpse of a Roman soldier in the distance, and a chill goes down your spine. What were you thinking? Your new-found friend and colleague, and all he stood for, could at least get you and your family booted from the Temple. Or knowing him could get you killed. Further down that road, months further, it would become very clear that Jesus would be killed, no matter how well the disciples maintained their hope, and their denial. No one challenged the structures of the Roman empire without fearing or facing retribution.
Jesus understood their fears, and frequently spoke directly to those fears. John recalls Jesus’ words in the fourteenth chapter of his gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus loved and trusted the disciples, and encouraged them to take another step into trusting him by relying on their known relationship with God. It being easier to trust the messenger if you are acquainted with the One who sent him, Jesus opened a way for the disciples to be able to trust themselves and their faith more easily.
We have learned step by step about God, our faith and Jesus as well. What was the first lesson you learned about God? Perhaps it was simply that God loved you. Not a bad place to start, and, indeed, a solid foundation from which to work. Other lessons followed, lessons of faith, hope, grace and more of God’s great love. The more you learned, the longer and more steady the bridge into the unknown became, so that when fears and doubts struck, as they are want to do, you could steady yourself, check you footing, and take another step forward.
The disciples had the great misfortune to have their faith missteps and fears documented for all time. We have somewhat more opportunity for privacy, and the luxury of learning from their raw courage. Anyone is courageous who walks by faith into the unknown.