Why do we like stories? For me, it’s because they illuminate the thesis of a person’s life. Stories sift through the rubble to reveal the gold.

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”—Job 23:10.

The easiest way to learn is to not know we’re being taught. I’m much more at ease while being entertained, than I am when someone tries to pour knowledge into me, as if I’m nothing but a vessel to be filled. I feel more vulnerable while being lectured to, like I’m not in control. But if they want to tell me a story, or sing me a song, then they are performing for me. It’s empowering. Therefore, I let my guard down, and am capable of great insight, because my mind is relaxed—just like with prayer and meditation.

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?”—Matthew 13:10.

An important thing to note here: When Jesus spoke to crowds, it was only by parables.

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.”—Matthew 13:34.

I knew he liked those metaphorical stories; but not speaking in any other way? That’s an incredible thought. Well, to be more precise, he didn’t speak that way to his disciples, only to the crowds.

“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”—Matthew 13:11.

What made the disciples different from us, why they could understand the mysteries, was their ability to trust in Jesus. Faith is fine, but it’s not a verb: It does no action. It requires an external energy source to do any work, which we provide by trusting one another.

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers./ And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. / And they straightway left their nets and followed him.”—Matthew 4:18-20.

That takes trust. All Jesus did was walk up to them—no hello, how you doing, my name is Jesus. Faith didn’t move that mountain. Sure, faith gives energy, passion, and zeal, but we choose how to use that energy.

Faith is the river and the boat, but trust is what steers it.

“For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”—Matthew 13:12.

That was how Jesus began to explain to his disciples why he spoke in parables. When isolated, the difference between this line and the usual Christian message is stark.

“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”—Matthew 23:12.

But all you have to do is insert “trust,” and that isolated quote makes a lot more sense.

“For whosoever hath [trust], to him [trust] shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not [trust], from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”—Matthew 13:12.

Semantically, we have faith, but trust is the medium, the currency exchange, the means by which we show and share our faith, not just in God, but in each other.

“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive.”—Matthew 13:13-14.

He referred to Isaiah, from a dramatic scene in which the Old Testament prophet was called on by God.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. / And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. / Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”—Isaiah 6:8-10.

When our minds aren’t distracted, the defenses go up. We can no longer hear the truth. Instead, we hear what we want, what we fear. The opposite of trust, then, is fear.

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed….”—Matthew 13:15.

We’ve heard it all, seen and done it all. The great themes have all been used so much that they’ve been turned into theme parks. I’ve been tricked and conned so many times that sincerity provokes suspicion. This makes trust difficult, if not impossible.

Sins aren’t just a list of clichéd bad things. When we reach a fork in the river, in our choose-your-own-adventure story, and choose fear instead of trust, that is when we sin.

I think that Jesus side-stepped fear by speaking in parables. He counted on curiosity to open our eyes, and riddles to sharpen our ears.

Forgiveness is a good way to practice trust. When I forgive someone, I have to trust in them, that they’ll not turn around and do the same thing again.

“…go, and sin no more.”—John 8:11.

And if they do the same thing again, and they probably will…

“…but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”—Matthew 5:39.

…then I have to forgive them and trust that they won’t do it again. This is true of forgiving oneself too; I get lots of practice. And, more times than I care to admit, I choose fear. Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s when I don’t choose, and when I do no work, that the decision is made for me. (Remember how the priest and Levite didn’t choose to get involved in the Good Samaritan parable.)

No action leads to fear; action leads to trust.

The official motto of the United States is “In God we trust.” In these essays, to simplify things, I assume God = love to be a literal axiom, meaning I take the substitution literally.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. / He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”—I John 4:7-8.

Therefore, it is in love that we should trust. And if we truly love our neighbors, then we should trust them too. I know how complicated that can be. So don’t be afraid when you fail. Have faith that you’ll do better; trust yourself to do better—even if you fail again immediately, as I often do.

The only thing for it is to sit back and enjoy the story.