“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Many believers today often confuse having faith in God with trusting in God. Faith is a noun. It is something you have or possess, a “substance” or “evidence” of things both hoped for and not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Faith in God is the confident belief that He is the sovereign Creator of all things and that He can and will do what He claims. Trust, on the other hand, is a verb. It is something you do or act upon. Faith always comes first, but trust is never guaranteed. It is a willful choice, a deliberate action, and can only grow out of your faith.
There is a vast difference between faith and trust, and the story of Charles Blondin and Harry Colcord provides a great illustration. Blondin was the foremost tightrope walker of his time. He gained worldwide fame in 1859 as the first person to cross Niagara Falls. Colcord was his friend and manager. A cable made entirely of hemp, 1,300 feet long and two inches in diameter, was wound around an oak tree on the American side, while the other end was ferried across the Niagara River and secured to a Canadian rock. To limit swaying, Colcord had stabilizing guy ropes affixed at 20-foot intervals to anchors on both banks—except for 50 unreachable feet in the center, which sagged and swayed dangerously. Thanks to Colcord’s savvy marketing, tens of thousands of spectators gathered for the spectacle. Gamblers took bets on whether Blondin would fall and die, and vendors hawked everything from lemonade to liquor.
Shortly before 5:00 p.m. on June 30, 1859, Blondin started his slow walk from the American side. Once past the center section, he broke into a run! After a brief rest, he started back again, but this time toting a box camera on his back. Balancing precariously near the middle, Blondin carefully set up the camera and snapped a picture of the crowd. Then he repacked his burden and continued the rest of the way. The entire round trip took 23 minutes. Once safely back on American soil, Blondin immediately announced a series of encore performances, each more daring than the last. The press ate it up.
Over several weeks, Blondin walked backward, blindfolded, backflipped, pushed a wheelbarrow, and even cooked an omelet during one of many trips across the rope. He had faith he could accomplish these feats, but he also trusted his abilities to complete them. The spectators, on the other hand, only had faith—a difference seen in Blondin’s daring walk in August 1859. After he had crossed to the Canadian side, the crowd was horrified as Blondin reappeared on the rope with his manager, Harry Colcord, clinging to his back. A few guy ropes snapped during their transit, but Blondin never wavered and safely made the crossing. It was later reported that Blondin told his manager, “Look up, Harry…you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Until I clear this place be a part of me, mind, body, and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself.”1
This is the difference between faith and trust. The spectators had faith in Blondin and believed in his abilities. But only Colcord trusted him enough to climb on his back and allow him to carry him across. Is your trust in the Lord like that? Do you truly trust Him to provide and care for you and supply all your needs (Matthew 6:25; 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:19)? Or do you place your trust in your personal resources and efforts, or in other people or things you think you control? Without the “trust in the LORD” of Proverbs 3:5, you will never know the joy and confidence of Proverbs 3:6: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
- Abbott, K. The Daredevil of Niagara Falls. Smithsonian Magazine. Published on smithsonianmag.com October 18, 2011, accessed June 17, 2016.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.