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Disheveled Theologian: A perspective of trust

I’m writing this on my birthday. It’s one of those birthdays where people sometimes stop counting. Depending on my mood, I either embrace my birthday or I panic.

I haven’t yet decided which I’m going to do this year.

I kind of like having my birthday right at the beginning of the year. That way, I literally start a new year and a new age. Plus, since I was born in a year that ends with a zero, I can always remember how old I am simply by looking at what year it is. If the year ends in a nine, for example, well then, so does my age. That’s helpful the older and more forgetful I get.

I have a feeling that I’ll cling to that a few times in 2019. “Ugh. I’m 50,” I’ll think, because the shadow will be looming ever closer, and then, “No, I’m not! It’s still 2019! Fifty is ages away!”

When I was a kid, my birthdate was a bit of a drag if it was the first day back at school after Christmas break. On the other hand, in college it was great because all my friends had returned from break but classes hadn’t begun yet so no one had homework and everyone could celebrate with me!

It’s all about perspective.

Which is a great thing to consider at this time of year, birthday or no. What will my perspective be for 2019? Will I see the glass as half full or half empty?

I’m an optimist. Usually my glass is half full of the best tasting liquid I can get my hands on. (Figuratively, that’s Blood Orange Italian soda. I love that stuff.)

Along comes birthday number 49, though, and my glass threatens to be half empty. “What? I only have half a glass of Blood Orange Italian soda left? How depressing.”

Much better to say, “What? I still have half a glass of Blood Orange Italian soda left! Waa hoo!”

Yep. Perspective matters. And at this time of year it’s good to renew one’s mindset. To remind yourself that no matter how full the glass is, you just need to enjoy what you’ve been given.

And that’s why I’ve chosen a word for the year.

I’m not good at this. I know there are people out there who choose a word for the year regularly. They choose something to focus on, something to strive for, and set that word as a goal for the year ahead.

I have never done this before. Maybe I’m too lazy. Or too distractible. Or too afraid of commitment.

This year I’ve chosen a word, and I’m excited! This word seems to keep cropping up lately in my Scripture reading. In conversation. In my Netflix viewing or book reading or thoughts.

It’s a good word. Found often in the Bible — 170 times in the New International Version, 188 in the good old King James, 206 in The Message, 149 in the New American Standard, my new favorite.

It’s a word that encourages action. But it’s also a word that, if fully employed, means a person can relax.

What is my word?


Do you remember the old Disney animated version of The Jungle Book? Remember Kaa, the crafty snake, who sang “Trust in Me”? Kaa was a baddy. His version of trust meant to go into a trance and blindly follow … to your death.

The trust I’m embracing is just the opposite.

The trust I’m embracing — trust in God — is built upon hope. Upon love. Upon a firm foundation of unshakable faith in a person I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to be worthy of my trust.

Yes, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Eyes wide open. Fully confident in the one in whom I am trusting.

How do I know that God is trustworthy?

I have a lifetime — 49 years to the day — of seeing his faithfulness play out in my life. I also have the word of friends and family and the testimony of God’s faithfulness in their own lives. And, of course, I have HIS Word, the Bible, which I believe to be true.

I’ve got a lot more to say about trust in the days ahead.

For now, let me leave you with this as we enter into 2019, fully trusting in the one who created time itself.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 NIV

May we all be filled to overflowing with joy and peace and hope as we trust in him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in 2019!

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is