Karate Chops, Drop Kicks and Love
by Cris Corzine-McCloskey
To Jesus of Nazareth, who so longed for our trust that He died for love of it ~ Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust
Here we are, the week after Easter, and this week back in history we find the disciples absolutely flabbergasted at the resurrection. I find this interesting, since we can read in the gospels that Jesus never, ever, hid this part of His plan from them. So why were they so surprised? Personally, I think it was because they expected Jesus to display His power, smite Rome and the Pharisees, and take that thing over. That was their idea of a savior. But Jesus had no intention of conquering Rome, He came for a prize far more valuable…the thing He had wanted since the Garden. He came to conquer our hearts, and that takes winning our trust.
I completely understand their being perplexed, because the crucifixion never ceases to surprise me, and I know how the story goes. Actually, the entire saga of our Savior putting on human flesh, showing us how the Father really is, then entering in to suffering at the hands of the very people He came to save, all of it surprises me. Man could not have made something like that up. Our invention of a savior would have been wielding lightning bolts at unrepentant sinners, not dying with our spit on His face. Nope. We could not have invented Jesus of Nazareth.
I think this exemplifies the difference between belief, faith, and trust. I could believe in an angry, lightning bolt throwing savior, I would even be willing to put my faith in him. Actually, I would be afraid not to! I would toe the party line, sing my praises, and count on him to karate chop and drop kick my enemies. Karate chopping Jesus would never have asked me to forgive my enemies, because he would not have forgiven his. Nor would he have died for me, and deep inside I would never, ever trust him. I would fear him, and secretly fear the day I failed, and those lightning bolts and karate chops turned my way.
Yet, I long to trust Jesus of Nazareth, because I believe He loves me, and I think my trust is truly the only gift I can give Him. I feel He yearns for it…He died to win it. But I give myself lots of grace in this journey toward trusting Him, because I know it’s not something I can produce on my own. Oh, the delicious irony that the thing I most need to do I must depend on Him to help me do it.
My favorite author, Brennan Manning, said that “the story of salvation-history indicates that without exception trust must be purified in the crucible of trial.” Uh oh, I don’t like the sound of that!! But innately, I feel the truth of that statement. It is only through these trials that I learn that Jesus is faithful, even when everything else is falling apart, He is faithful and He loves me. The cross proved that, not how my life is going on a day to day basis. I think that trusting Jesus means that we do not base our lives on how our lives are going, but on the unshakable fact that the cross demonstrated how He feels and that He conquered sin and death for us. I find this challenging, because I want a smooth and easy life, I just don’t believe it is my pathway to trust.
It certainly was not the path that David took. I think David exemplified trust most beautifully in some of his Psalms, yet he was no stranger to pain, heartache, rejection, loneliness, failure, and waiting on God. Nonetheless, through these he learned a trust that delighted the heart of the Father. He wrote, “When I am most afraid. I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise, in God I put my trust, fearing nothing; what can men do to me (Ps 56:3-4)?” Or my favorite, “He rescued me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19)!” That is the beauty of a human heart surrendered to trust.
Psychiatrist Gerald May wrote, “I know that God is loving and that God’s loving is trustworthy. I know this directly through the experience of my life. There have been plenty of times of doubt, especially when I used to believe that trusting God’s goodness meant I would not be hurt. But having been hurt quite a bit, I know God’s goodness goes deeper than all pleasure and pain, it embraces both.”
The Apostle John, who had been boiled in oil and banished to a barren island, said that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). I think I could paraphrase that by saying that when we trust in the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, we are fearless. Am I there yet? Nope, definitely not. I am woefully aware of how quickly I default to ‘what about me’ types of responses during trials, but my recovery is getting quicker. I believe trust is the apex of intimacy with Jesus, so I long for the day when my first response in a time of testing is a stanza of Jesus Loves Me and rock solid trust of my gentle Savior’s die hard affection for me. This would assure me that everything was going to be okay, because He cannot act outside of that love. I am truly cared for. I think this is what Jesus meant when He said we would have peace that transcended all understanding. That comes from trusting His heart of love. Way better than a karate chop any day of the week!