Outside of Taipei, Maokong stretches green and wild with tea plantations clinging to the slopes. Taking ropeways up into the hills, I soared unaware of the circumstances unfolding back home.
We need more hope and ropeways in the world. And trust. Ruthless trust, some call it. The day I discovered Maokong ropeway, my story spread across two countries. I was in an unaware moment of the events soon to impact me. Stricken by slow-moving gondolas like Téléphérique du Salève in Geneva or the ones near Lake Ashi at the base of Mt. Fuji, I couldn’t resist finding another.
Taipei sounded like a jungle beneath the silent gondola gliding through the sky. I could hear cicadas, tropical birds, running water somewhere beneath the thick green foliage that blanketed the mountains. My breathing, the loudest noise above the hum. There were rumors of a Maokong Tea Village, nestled among the mountains and tea plantations. I wish there’d been nothing in my mind save tea selections, but I was worrying again. My firefighter back home sounded weird on the phone, but I was too far away to uncover why.
Instead I inhaled the jungle air, told myself to be present, and let the worry slip from my mind as my gondola docked and I wandered up the path. Food vendors with fresh fruit and juices were on both sides of the road. I emerged to overlook the tea village, full of tiny boutiques and cafes offering regional wares.
Jutting off the edge of a cliff, one of the cafes hung a hazy view of the distant Taipei 101 skyscraper in midair before me. I grabbed an iced tea that I couldn’t pronounce and two tea cakes. A Canadian couple nearby told me about rafting in the south of Taiwan. I vowed to do so on my next trip.
I Was Placing Trust in God
The cicadas were competing with the sound of tourists, mainly from other Asian countries, winding through the green paths of the tea plantations on the hills around. Cacophony. I allowed myself to be fully present. In that beautiful, muggy moment, I was trusting God with my world and whatever happened next.
Former priest Brennan Manning often wrote about trusting God with our inability to see the future in his book, “Ruthless Trust.” In it, he includes a quote from psychiatrist Gerald May, who said this about growing his faith:
“I know that God is loving and that God’s loving is trustworthy. I know this directly, through the experience of my life. There have been plenty of times of doubt, especially when I used to believe that trusting God’s goodness meant I would not be hurt. But having been hurt quite a bit, I know God’s goodness goes deeper than all pleasure and pain; it embraces them both.”
Back home, my fiancé was having a hard night at work. During his shift at the fire station, he and his crew members found a suicide. It was painful, but sadly not the first time he’d observed that loss of life. He was going through terrible things without me, but never without God.
My magical moment on that mountain ended as the mosquitoes came out. Taking the ropeway back down, I felt nothing but peace. I did dinner at the scintillating night market with yelling, stinky tofu vendors and glittering lights. I worked the flight home with my rambunctious crew. I ran by the fire station upon landing to grab a cup of coffee with my man.
Trusting God Means Not Needing to Know What’s Next
His demeanor was changed, effected. It was a very real pain that occurred, and I’d missed it. It was something that would affect us long after his shift ended. According to Brennan Manning, needing to know what’s next is the opposite of trust. I felt so helpless, helpless knowing that there was no way to ease his pain from that traumatic call and helpless knowing that it happened while I was sipping tea in an oasis. It felt like guilt.
I didn’t know what was going on while I rode that gondola, but God did. The coming home was painful, but a solid reiteration of my desperate need for trust. This is not the first time I’ve been in the world while events were unfolding tragically elsewhere. God saw those, too.
Trusting God with the circumstances outside of my sight is non-negotiable. He is the only one truly powerful to do anything about it all. Just as I trusted those gondola cables carrying me across forests, I surrender my illusion of control to God who carries the cables of my life.
Perhaps Manning best captured the importance of letting go: “Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God. Fear of the unknown path stretching ahead of us destroys childlike trust in the Father’s active goodness and unrestricted love.”
God Will Be There When We Can’t Be
My next trip to Taipei, there’s another ropeway I’m going to check. My firefighter slowly recovered from his night and will recover from those unavoidable traumatic calls in the future. I will be there for him when he does, but I will rest knowing that God is there when I cannot be.
As Manning put it, “The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
There is nothing for us to do with the future but entrust it to the One who sees the unseen. This God loves our loved ones more than we. He holds them, comforts them, molds them even without us around. God has got this. And them. The world needs more hope, more gondolas, and more ruthless trust in a God working behind the scenes.
Trust in God comes out of a relationship with him. Here are some ways to grow your faith: If You Want to Grow in Faith, Try These Simple Things – 144