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You Can’t Store Up Trust in a Piggy Bank

When I spoke recently to a group of college students, I asked them to write down a key word or phrase to sum up how they might apply the message. My goal was to call them into action, to the front lines of justice and evangelism, equipped by the grace given to them through Christ. I was expecting to see note cards with concrete action steps along the lines of “loving my roommate,” “serving the poor,” “going to Africa” or “sharing the gospel with my friend” scribbled on them. But interestingly, the word that appeared more than any other word or phrase was “trust.”

Trust.

To my ears, “trust” sounded almost passive—a spiritually acceptable reason to put off the action, until this vague sense of “trust” finally kicks in. Had they misunderstood my main point?

I requested that these passionate and excited students consider the invitation to trade in what they had that was good for the better that a life of following Jesus offers. I gave them several concrete and compelling examples from my own life. When, in a leap of faith, I traded in a decent income and respectable career to do campus ministry, I got something even better: I got dependence on God; I got a family of supporters who give above and beyond to see college students transformed and my needs cared for; I got the reward that Jesus promises in the parable of the Hidden Treasure. In the parable, Jesus shares that the Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field, in order to discover the treasure once again and lay claim to it. The joy I get from giving up everything to know Christ and share Him with others is so much better than the reliability of a steady income.

With my mighty tales of sacrifice surely inspiring all of these idealistic co-eds, I was confident students would proclaim they were going to sell all they had and give to the poor, or go overseas on a mission trip this summer, or move into the dorms to witness to freshmen. But why trust?

But the more I thought about it and talked about it with my staff partner (and husband) Jon the more it made perfect sense. It is indeed this illusive “trust” that many, not just college students, feel like they need to obtain before taking a risk to follow Jesus. I hear the phrase “I just need to trust God more” all the time. It comes out of my students’ mouths, my friends’ mouths and, well, my mouth quite a lot, too. I really want to tell my co-worker about Jesus, so I just need to trust God more. I’m nervous about graduating, but I just need to trust God more. I know I should give more money away, but I just need to work on trusting God more.

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What these statements imply is that when I finally have enough trust built up, then—and only then—will l actually act upon whatever it is I’ve been working up to. But the crucial point missing in this (all too common) ideology is that trust isn’t an item to be accumulated like pennies in a piggy bank. Discipleship isn’t a spiritual bank account, like saving up enough money to finally make that big purchase. It’s an action. Giving money away is, in itself, trust. Sharing my testimony with a friend is trust. Following Jesus when He says “come and see” is trust. Jesus didn’t ask His disciples to have trust in Him, and then when they finally had it, to follow Him. The very act of leaving behind their lives and livelihoods and families was trust.

A lot of times we sit around and wait for trust, pray for trust, try to trust and talk about this nebulous idea of trust—and all the while Jesus is waiting patiently beside our fishing boats, happy to give us something eternal and powerful and life-giving; something better than last night’s meager catch. I am humbly—and often—reminded that simply because I said yes to one area of calling that God placed on my life, the reality is Jesus beckons me, continuously, to deeper discipleship, different challenges and new opportunities; trading in my way of life for His.

And my students are right: Trust is the bridge that gets me from good to better.

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