You Can't Store Up Trust in a Piggy Bank
By Kirsten Phillips
August 17, 2012
Kirsten Phillips is a wife, mom and campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Arizona. You can read more of her thoughts on ministry, following Jesus and motherhood at www.thekirstentree.com
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."
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?
Discipleship isn't a spiritual bank account, like saving up enough money to finally make that big purchase. It's an action.
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.
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.