As Christians, one of the things we most strive for is to trust God. Most of us are familiar with the image of Christ with his arms extended toward us, offering his Divine love and protection. Jesus I trust you: this holy image admonishes us.
Trust comes in many forms and degrees. Ultimately we should turn our entire lives over to God. God did, after all, create us, and certainly knows what is best for us — whether we accept it or not. Sometimes, the reality he presents us is so out of tune with our own expectations it seems impossible to believe there can possibly be a beneficial outcome.
On Jan. 1 as my wife and I, along with the rest of our family, were preparing to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary, I developed a severe pain in my right leg. While no stranger to athletic injuries, this was different. Without too much delay they took me to a nearby hospital. I was quickly passed through triage. By that time, however, the pain was severe and my foot had turned cold and lost all sensation. A clot was preventing blood from flowing through my leg. The choices were not pleasant. In short order, unless something was done, my leg would die.
Miraculously — yes miraculously — a vascular surgeon was available at another hospital only a few kilometres away. Even as an ambulance took me there, the surgeon and her team prepared for the emergency surgery that would, hopefully, save my leg. At that point, trust became central. Obviously I had no choice but to trust in the surgeon’s skill.
However, at a much deeper level, I realized I had to place my trust in God in a way I never had before. It wasn’t just a matter of still having two legs in a week. The surgery included the possibility of lethal complications.
Three hours earlier I was getting ready to celebrate. Now I was having an intimate conversation with God, trying to figure out why all this was happening. I cannot deny that a lot of very human worries dominated the first part of that conversation. What happens if I lose the leg? Why didn’t I see this coming? (As it turned out, based on my medical history, no one could have.) Why me and why now when we are supposed to be partying? Of course — what happens to my family if I am not here tomorrow? Finally, and most terrifying of all — what will happen at the Judgment Seat?
Then a strange thing happened. Up to that point the conversation had been about me. I like to know what is going to be going on; I like to plan things. At that point, neither of these was happening. Now the conversation took a turn. Now, it seemed, it was time for me to listen.
While it would be nice to take credit for this change of heart, at that moment I didn’t really seem to have much choice. Still, no matter how it happened, I did listen. I’m not always very good at taking hints, but I think this time pain was the “hint” I needed to listen to that voice. It wasn’t a booming voice from the heavens, but rather a gentle sort of whisper. “You have no choice,” the voice told me. “It’s time for you to remember that I am taking care of you. You can trust me. Don’t you think I know what is best for you — after all, I made you. You have to let go of your desire to control everything.”
And then, in the most beautiful of ways, in a manner I cannot possibly begin to describe, the voice let me know that It was in control. “I am taking care of you. I am taking care of your family and will continue to do that. Just trust me. Really. There are beautiful things ahead, let me bring them to you.”
Recovering from surgery the next morning, I learned the tests done to more fully understand my condition discovered a blockage in my heart. I would have open heart surgery within a week. Potential tragedy led to a life-saving discovery.
I have much to be grateful for. Not the least my life. Trust.
C.S. Lewis writes, “He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God he was that there was only one of Him. . . . the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.”
Sometimes it takes a bit of hammering to learn things like trust in God.
Kostyniuk, who lives in Edmonton, has a bachelor of theology from Newman and is a freelance writer. He and his wife Bev have been married for 39 years and have eight grandchildren.