Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Love and Trust

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between love and trust.

I just finished reading The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clay Christensen (which I highly recommend, by the way), and in his book he has example after example of regular people sharing the gospel.

In one chapter, Brother Christensen shares the stories of three wards in three different areas of the world. Each of these wards had experienced phenomenal growth in a relatively short amount of time while the wards around them only had mediocre success in missionary work. Why? Brother Christensen suggests that it is not because there was a higher percentage of “prepared” people in the flourishing wards and a lack of “elect” in the surrounding areas. Rather, Brother Christensen says that it was because God could trust the members of these wards. He trusted them because they were actually going what He has asked all of us to do: they were being member missionaries. They were opening their mouths. They were fellowshipping less-active members of the Church and non-members. They were full of love, which “casteth out all fear” (1 John 4:18). God knew these members. He knew their character and their hearts, and He knew He could trust them with His children. Brother Christensen writes, “God has promised that He will answer the prayers of His children. If He can’t trust us, then he must use other means to answer the prayers of others.”

Gaining the trust of God is a very real thing . . . and it is a deeper aspect of His love. 

I first had this discussion with a missionary companion during companionship study in a dusty little room in Ukraine. My companion was talking about one of the elders we served with, and she mentioned that God didn’t just love this elder—He trusted him.

The comment struck me.

I thought, “That’s what I want. I want to be someone God can trust. I already know I have His love, but I want to meet His trust.”

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.

We don’t earn the love of God. God loves us because He loves us. He is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His children. God chooses to love us. The love of God is what saves the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Everything God does is calculated only to bless, because he “first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We are literally the sons and daughters of God, created in His image, and He loves us with an all-encompassing, filling, healing love. I have felt His love, and it is available to everyone. There is nothing that can separate us from His love (see Romans 8:35-39) . . . only if we willingly choose to reject him. “For this eternal truth is given, that God will force no man to heaven.”

God loves all of us. We are His children. But trust is a different matter.

People trust us when they know we love them. The Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

If we truly love God, then we will want to keep His commandments.

I love my little brother, but I don’t trust him to drive me to Salt Lake. He hasn’t earned his driver’s license, and no amount of my love will keep us safe on the road. Only knowledge of and obedience to the rules of the road.

I love my 12-year-old cousin. But I don’t trust him with my journal. He hasn’t earned that level of trust.

God loves me. But if I don’t keep His commandments, how can He trust me?

If I don’t study my scriptures and pray every day, why would He trust me with continuous personal revelation?

If I don’t open my mouth to share the gospel, why would He trust me with His children who are praying to find the truth?

If I don’t repent daily, why would He trust me with His Spirit?

Meeting the trust of God is nothing new. The scriptures are full of examples.

·         Abraham earned the trust of God so much that He was even called the “friend of God” (Isaiah 41:8). God knew Abraham’s character, and trusted him enough to make covenants with him. He could trust Abraham to bring up a righteous posterity:

“And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Genesis 17:17-19)

·         A Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, aligned his will so perfectly with God’s that God granted him incredible power. God granted him this power because he knew he would never ask for anything contrary to the will of God:

“Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but has sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty and word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shall not ask that which is contrary to my will.” (Helaman 10:3-5)

If that’s not trust, I don’t know what is.

·         From Church history, I love the example of Joseph Smith. One reason I love his example so much is because we can see his progression as he grows in the knowledge and trust of God and as he becomes someone who God can always count on. Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect (none of us are). He made mistakes (as all of us do). It took him four years (1823-1827) to be ready to receive the gold plates because God was teaching him and training him . . . and, ultimately making sure he could trust Joseph. Even then, Joseph sometimes made mistakes—sometimes big mistakes (116 lost pages, anyone?). Some things we learn from the episode of the 116 lost pages (and there are many) are that:  
                1. It's the purposes of man, not the purposes of God that are foiled. (D&C 3:3)
                2. When God tells us not to do something, just don't do it. 
                3. We can earn the trust of God again. Look at what the Lord tells Joseph: 
                           "Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, 
                            but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. 
                            But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done
                           which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work." (D&C 3:9-10). 

    Joseph repented. He regained God's trust completely, finished translating the Book of Mormon by the power of God, and was the means by which God restored His gospel and Church to the earth in our day. He was a prophet of God in every sense of that sacred calling. 

     Joseph Smith said in 1843, "I have made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it."
     That is someone God can trust.

That is someone who loves God.

And the first sign of love is always loyalty.

I know I've only scratched the surface of this topic. But these are my musings for tonight.

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. 

[if you have any more thoughts about love vs. trust, please comment below!] 


  1. Ooh, this is a really fascinating topic. So glad you brought it up!
    I doubt I'm going to be able to articulate very well, but here goes. I heard right now the "in" thing is to have "faith crises" or to share the stories. That all may be edified? I suppose that's the intent.
    But it seems to me that if we spend all this time in crisis, we are losing major opportunities to serve. That is, how can God trust us with His wonderful, exciting assignments if we're still sitting back here debating if He's real and if His church is true?

    Another thought. If I pray for comfort, I feel His love. If I pray for opportunities to serve, I feel His love and His trust.

    I'll be thinking about this more. Thanks Megan.

  2. That's really interesting, Kyra. I hadn't really known that was in vogue. We'll have to talk about it more when you're out here.

  3. My momma just barely mentioned that book to me this past week! It must be time to read it!! :) I'm so excited that you're back. I love reading your ideas!