In Exodus, an army advances on the Israelites who think they will perish in the wilderness, before a wonderful line; "The Lord will fight for you, you have only to keep still." In Matthew, Jesus talks about motives for praying, before another wonderful line; "God knows what you need before you ask him."
In these lines is a sense that everything will work out if you only trust the process. Trust is not the same as belief. There was a circus performer who made a living by pushing a wheelbarrow across a high wire that spanned an abyss. The crowds came out in droves to watch him and to cheer him on. “Do you believe I can do it?” he would ask. “Oh, yes! We believe you can do it,” they chorused back.
“So, who’s going to get in the wheelbarrow?” Silence fell. All believed in the amazing circus performer, none of them trusted him. The creeds we recite set out precisely what we are supposed to believe. We can recite those as often as we want, but that will not necessarily amount to trust. The real meaning of faith, (the meaning of the Greek word Pistis) is trust. Have trust, says Jesus to the disciples, "that God knows what you need before you ask him," or Moses; "the Lord will fight for you, you only have to keep still."
Trust does not mean doing nothing, it means letting God work though you, a cooperative venture between your inner knowing and the world in which you live. Trust is active, aware and alert, not blind and unknowing. Like the young man who said; ‘Master, so great is my trust in God that I didn’t even hitch my camel out there. I left it to God’s providence.” And the master said, ‘Go back outside and tie your camel to the post, you nincompoop! Don't inconvenience God with something you can do yourself.’
For the disciples trying to understand, it was difficult, and for the Israelites facing the advancing army, it was difficult. But in difficult times in our lives we can still trust. Fear whispers into our ears all the time and whether we listen to it or not is the choice we get to make in life. Many of us make the mistake of assuming as true the fearful stories and scenarios that we confront in our imagination.
Instead, what if you chose to befriend fear and instead of getting paralyzed by the stories, decide to find out for yourself, do the thing you fear. Fear is built on structures of assumptions, lack of awareness. Once you move through the fog of fear and shine the light of awareness by taking action, fear loses power and efficacy.
Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, fear on the other. The warrior was feeling small, fear was looking big. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen, have respect for me, even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
In that way, the student warrior learned how to trust. When things fall apart or you feel fear, rather than feel you’re getting the short end of the stick, feel lucky. Only when you feel fear will you feel the opportunity to have the courage to grow. Being courageous and having a great life is all about being intimate with fear in a wise and graceful way. Feel the fear, and then rather than being depressed about fear, lean into it, and see it as an opportunity to trust the process, to learn, act and grow. God knows what you need before you ask, and the Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.