Trust is in short supply these days. In some ways, rightly so. “Trust me,” shout a thousand ads, “this product will make you live to be 100, and you won’t even look like it.” “Trust me,” enjoin the politician, the wayward preacher, the pusher, the pedophile, and the pornographer. We do what we can to teach youngsters not to be so trusting. Misplaced trust can cripple, even kill.
But maybe we have learned that lesson too well. Who still trusts governments, banks, lawyers, teachers, denominations, parents? Who still trusts tradition or life or the future, for that matter? And who really still trusts in a God we cannot see?
Our media-saturated, wired-in way of life can turn us into functional agnostics who learn to trust no one: not our workmates, not our spouses, not even ourselves. So what part, if any, can trust still play in our lives? And what part should it play?
There’s an old story about a lone cowboy who plods across a sun-scorched desert only to find himself completely out of water. He’s in mortal danger by the time he stumbles upon a shed with a rusty old pump. In utter desperation he goes to town on the pump, but it produces nary a drop.
Close to despair, he notices a beat-up tin cup. Miraculously, there’s water in it! Even as he reaches for it to slake his thirst, he knows it’s not nearly enough to see him through his journey. Then he notices a scribbled note underneath the cup. It says: “Have faith, friend, there’s water down there.”
The cowpoke knows what he has to do. He must prime the pump, pouring that precious water—now dearer to him than his horse—down the pump to create the suction to let him draw up all the water he needs—maybe. To get enough to save his life, he needs to risk the bit that won’t. He needs to trust the note or he’s a goner.
I’ll forego the urge to preach the sermon that goes so well with this story. You get it. (Look up Mark 8:35.) The countless times our trust is disappointed does not make it desirable, or even possible, to live without it. Ask any newborn. Or ask the prophet Habakkuk: “The righteous live by their faith” (Hab. 2:4).
But the story isn’t quite done yet. The now well-saturated cowpoke turns over the note. On the back side he reads: “Hey, lead-foot, don’t fergit ta leave water in that cup fer the next greenhorn who’s fixin’ ta die of thirst out here.”
How will we Pentecost folks live in a way that inspires enough trust in our soul-thirsty family, friends, and neighbors so that they will accept from our faltering, sin-stained hands God’s “cup of salvation”?
Who left that Living Water out for you to find? And how will you follow suit?