One of the fun parts of my job when I worked at the YMCA was to lead groups through team building activities. I would have them do interesting things like line up in alphabetical order by middle name without talking, or cross an imaginary chasm using two boards and some “magic shoes”. But a classic favorite was always the Trust Fall. The team would form two lines facing each other with arms outstretched and overlapping ready to catch the one teammate standing ready to fall backwards into their arms from a picnic table or tree stump. It never failed that the faller was a bit anxious. There is nothing natural about letting your body fall backwards into something you can’t see or feel. Though they had been instructed to cross and clasp their hands in front of their chest, often they would flail at the last second flinging arms out into someone’s face. Even worse, if they didn’t relax and fall backward flatly, evenly distributing their weight, but instead bailed out and tried to sit down, they would easily break through the waiting row of arms.
The obvious lesson from this activity was trust. Although it was labeled as a “trust building” exercise, I really saw it as a “trust demonstrating” exercise. Yes, it did build trust for your team to catch you. But, it is a little crazy to fall backwards from any height if you think there might even be a chance that you won’t be caught! Thus, the amount of tension in the faller demonstrated their level of trust in the team.
Isn’t this the same way it is in our lives? We tend to go through our lives with some amount of underlying tension, as if God might not have this or that particular situation that we are facing. We worry and fret. But let’s think about this rationally for a minute. Has God ever failed you in the past? Sure things have been hard. You might not have gotten your way. But God’s Word says that all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). Did it work, or is it working, for your good?
Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.’” God has never and will never fail us. There is no rational reason not to trust Him with everything no matter how big or how small, every minute of every day. The very sound waves of His voice aligned the proper atoms to create a whole universe! The number of hairs on your head is like pocket change to Him! He is incomprehensible. If we really tried to understand even a piece of Him it would blow our minds. He is trustworthy! When we really begin to believe this all the way from our head to our hearts it will be easier to surrender ourselves completely to God’s will and daily plan for our lives and to rest in Him.
To surrender means to yield to the possession or power of another, to give oneself up, to give up abandon or relinquish. This is what happens in the Trust Fall. The faller gives himself up to the team. He relinquishes his power when he reaches a certain angle off that tree stump. He is no longer in control. It is up to his teammates to take over.
Ironically, once the surrender has happened, there is total freedom! There is no longer any effort on the faller’s part. We have this choice with God too. We can stand on that spiritual stump all tense and worried, bound up in fear, trying to decide if we are even going to surrender this thing to God. We can also ‘give up’ reluctantly, and even flail at the last minute, trying to stay in control. We might even end up hurting someone. Or we can surrender our situation to God, yielding the total power to Him. This means it is no longer our strength and energy that is being exerted. If we could measure the output of our strength vs. the output of His strength we would see that ours wasn’t really doing very much anyway. See John 15:5 for confirmation.
While there is nothing natural about falling backwards into something you can’t see or feel, the more you practice the supernatural act of surrendering your life to God, the more natural it will become and the more you will be able to say with confidence “The Lord is my helper. I will have no fear!”
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