Risk and Trust
“A Wisdom Moment of Trust”
The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo
"The need to step into what we fear and, in so doing, disperse its hold on us is powerfully brought to life by a moment in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. After searching everywhere within reason and memory for the Holy Grail, Jones stands on an enormous precipice, a deep chasm before him, the Grail waiting on the other side. His father, wounded and depending on the Grail to heal, cries out possible interpretations of the clues Jones has been given to reach the Grail.
After what seems a lifetime of inner debate and escalating fear, he dares, against everything he knows, to step into the void above the chasm, and as he does, an enormous stone foundation appears beneath his feet, a bridge that was there all along.
This is a moment of risk and trust, a wisdom moment that repeats itself in our lives in both small and large ways. Over and over, the cup we need to drink from, the ancient ever-healing cup of wholeness waits beyond some deep chasm we are afraid to cross.
Often, we are driven to the edge by the cries and clues of elders and loved ones, only to find that nothing makes sense, that there seems no where to go. And then the atom of risk begins to replay itself in those brought to the edge.
Then, when all known ways of seeing have failed, we sometimes dare to step into the void. Whether that void is a chasm of purpose or self-esteem or a ravine in relationship or a canyon of addiction, this crazy-wisdom step—that begins with risk and land in trust—reveals a foundation that was there all along, but which is only made visible by our risk to think and see in new ways and our trust to step into what we fear."
Nepo perfectly captures the image of risk and trust in remembering this scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The first time I saw this movie, I was perched on the edge of my seat as he debated what to do, and then when he took that leap of faith and jumped out, everyone in the theater wobbled with him as he found his footing. Jones reaches back, grabs a handful of sand, still not trusting his feet underneath him, and tosses the sand outward. He watches as it scatters across this invisible bridge that will take him to the other side of the chasm and to the Holy Grail.
As I read this reflection on risk and trust, I knew that it fit perfectly with our passage for this Sunday. Continuing with our series on Women of the Bible, this week we are looking at Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, who is the son of Milcah and Nahor, Abraham’s brother. These names may not mean anything to most people, but they provide important context. Nahor is Abraham’s brother. This would be Isaac’s uncle making Rebekah his first cousin.
At the time of this story, Abraham had already left Ur of the Chaldeans and is now living in the land of Canaan. Abraham calls his servant to him and makes him swear an oath that he will find his son a wife from among his own people, not from among the Canaanites. His servant swears, and then he sets off on this journey.
He follows the guidance of an angel of God and heads to the place where Abraham once lived. He waits by the well, knowing that eventually, the women of the village would come to get water. After a while, Rebekah shows up to draw water and the servant asks for a drink. She provides him with a drink from her vessel and then draws water for his camels. After a brief conversation, she returns to her family and tells them of the stranger. Rebekah quickly returns with her brother, Laban, and the servant is invited to their home where he was offered a place to stay for the night.
Immediately, the servant tells the family of his business with them, that he has come in search of a wife for Abraham’s son. Everyone agrees that this is a God-ordained encounter and agrees that Rebekah should go with the servant. Upon hearing the good news, he bestows upon Rebekah jewelry of silver and gold and gives to the family beautiful ornaments. Food is shared and then the servant and his men slept. In the morning, however, there was some hesitation on the part of the family to let Rebekah go with the servant. However, Rebekah is allowed to choose.
This twist in the story is significant. Rebekah is given agency over her own life and is allowed to decide whether to go or not. Rebekah does not hesitate. She quickly agrees to go with the servant. They pack up and Rebekah leaves her home and goes with the servant. She is allowed to take a servant girl with her. When in the distance, she asks who the man is in the field and is told that it is Isaac, the master’s son. She gets off the camel, covers her face, and goes to him.
We don’t think too much about arranged marriages in the US, but these are still common in other parts of the world. Often, the girls do not have a choice as to whom they will marry. The families choose for them, and they have zero say in the matter. With Rebekah, we have a most unusual turn of events in the story. Rebekah exercises trust and risk at the same time. She knows little of where she is going or to whom she will marry but believes that God is at the center of this decision. Throughout this story, “God’s will” is a central theme.
The idea of God’s providence is something that we all struggle with in the modern era—this notion that God has somehow ordained certain things to happen, and actually intervenes in the daily lives of people to bring those things to fruition—we typically dismiss this idea. And yet, there are times in our lives where things seem to line-up too perfectly and we give God thanks for making it happen. As we say every week, “We do not know how God works in the world.”
What Rebekah does, though, is risk in her lack of knowing. She doesn’t question the will of God, she doesn’t second guess the servant, she just takes a leap of faith and says yes.
Sometimes, when we are in the same position, it is terribly difficult for us to take that risk and trust that it is going to turn out okay. When we cannot see where the road leads, or how things are going to turn out, it is hard to trust. There is a hesitancy that overtakes us and can make us doubt our decisions. But when we can jump from the precipice, most often we find a bridge underneath us that is more than sufficient to keep us from falling.