After eight seasons of The Walking Dead, if there is one thing that has been worn down on all of our characters it is their trust.
I know that this is true because it has happened to the audience too. There probably isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t find myself saying, “Don’t trust that guy (or girl)”! And it makes sense on this show. People in this world are particularly untrustworthy no matter what they appear to be.
But this was the challenge laid out by Carl before his tragic death. And consequently all of our characters, who just a few episodes ago would shoot first and ask questions later, are stopping to listen to strangers now. Carl did it with Siddiq, and it resulted in the addition of a new doctor at Hilltop. Hilltop desperately needed a doctor, and now they have one because of Carl’s trust. But, it also resulted in Carl getting bitten and eventually dying of his wounds. Consequently, this dilemma has become front and center on the show this week.
So tonight, it happened again with a very strange woman named Georgie and her twin cohorts Hilda and Midge. At Hilltop they received notice that someone wanted to trade something for some records (yes those kinds of records) and some food. Georgie didn’t say what she was trading, but the very suspicious Michonne, Maggie, Rosita and Enid went to meet with her anyway – with a crate of records in tow.
Georgie: My name is Georgie, and these are my friends, Hilda and Midge.And you are? [silence] Suspicious. But curious enough to see what I have to offer for food and music. I do hope the records are music. I don’t accept spoken word. If you’re out here, you know you can take care of yourselves, and I like that. I don’t care to share this with the weak.
Maggie: Good. [Rosita comes from behind the van with a silenced handgun aimed at Georgie] Enid. [Enid starts to search them for weapons]
Georgie: None for me.
Maggie: Give us what you have.
Georgie: I’m afraid I can’t do that. I come bearing knowledge to trade Essential knowledge for the future, primarily in my head, and, uh, I prefer to keep that where it is.
Michonne: You’re trading knowledge.
Georgie: That’s what I have. I’ve made the same offer before Fill the crates, get the knowledge Simple as that. It’s not a trick, just a fair trade.I promise you.
Hilda: It’s an act of benevolence.
Maggie: Why would you do that?
Georgie: What else should I do?
Georgie: [VAN DOOR OPENS] Uh, what’s in there isn’t part of the deal.
Maggie: There is no deal.
Rosita: How many communities have you found?
Georgie: Communities like yours? Not many at all. And not one for a very long time. What you have is special, unusual. The dead have brought out our best and worst, and the worst has been outpacing the best lately, but that won’t last forever.
Midge: It won’t.
Georgie: If, perhaps, people can believe in people again, four crates of goods is worth far less than a sustainable future and perhaps an exercise in trust. I know “trust” probably sounds like a made-up word now, like flibberschticky.
Hilda: Or klompf.
Midge: Or moisture.
Enid: Stop. This isn’t real. No way anyone survives going around doing what you say you’re doing.
Georgie: But we do. And we will, because I can divine that you are a fine group, manners notwithstanding.
Michonne: We can make a deal.
Maggie: No. These people and their van are coming with us back to Hilltop.
Maggie at first is clearly annoyed with even having to do this, but aside from believing that “moisture” is a made up word, they seem to be on the level. Fans seem to think that these guys might be from the Commonwealth in the comics, but this show has proven to not follow the comics so many times that speculation is almost worthless. All that we do know is that Maggie eventually helps them out and they end up giving them some food and a book that may be very practical for them in the future.
Georgie merely says that the book has “handwritten plans for windmills, watermills, silos, hand-drawn schematics, guides to refining grain, creating lumber, and aqueducts. A book of medieval human achievement so we may have a future from our past.”
We have no idea what is actually in the book and whether it will really help, but we know that Maggie eventually shows some trust and Georgie claims that she will be back and that she “expects great things” of them.
So far we don’t know whether this was a good idea to meet them or not. Some groups have proven to be trustworthy and some haven’t. As a matter of fact, if you really think about it, most of our regular characters had to go through all kinds of vetting in order to gain the trust of the group. Remember the two questions? Remember when they locked people up in the prison when they didn’t totally trust them. And most importantly, remember all of the people who did betray them? (Jadis anyone?)
Even though I don’t live in a world as turbulent as the one in our show, I still think that trust is very difficult. If you are like me, you have had lots of experience with people betraying your trust. And the older you get, the more you experience it.
Why? Because we can’t read people’s minds and really the only way that you can function in this world is to give out a little bit of trust. Some people make people earn their trust, while others seems to give it out more freely. But either way, trust is probably the most important aspect in any relationship… including our relationship with God.
Usually we trust based on past behavior. If someone has been trustworthy in the past, then we tend to trust them more. When someone is untrustworthy, it can take a lot of time, maybe years, to gain it back.
But it isn’t always past behavior that makes us not trust. Sometimes it is simply the thing that we are being asked to trust in. This is especially true when it comes to our relationship with God. Those of us who are followers of Jesus, really have no reason to mistrust God. God is more trustworthy than anyone we know yet sometimes we still have a hard time trusting Him.
One of my favorite stories in the bible about this comes in the ninth chapter of Acts. This is the account of Saul’s conversion (he later becomes Apostle Paul). At this point in the story, Saul is an enemy of Christians and he is personally taking responsibility to arrest them and in some cases (Stephen) he is putting them to death. Paul is just not a guy that any Christians would trust.
But then God asks a Christian from the city of Damascus (where Saul was headed to persecute Christians) to trust Him. This is of course a very difficult thing to do in this situation.
10 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied.
11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. (Acts 9:10-19, NLT)
Notice how crazy the thing that God is asking Ananias to do. Also, notice that God is actually audibly talking to Ananias. I would venture to guess that most of us have not experienced an interaction with God like this, but Ananias is still too skeptical to do anything. Why? Because God is asking him to trust Him in a way that could result in Ananias getting killed or tortured.
Many of us know from the story here that Saul has met Jesus on the road to Damascus and that he was blinded as a result. So to us, the task doesn’t seem as scary. But I guarantee you that if most of us were asked to do this, we would be skeptical too. This looked like an obvious trick to most Christians. And even over a decade later we would see Christians still not trusting Paul (formerly Saul). I am sure that they thought that Saul was just trying to perpetrate a fraud in order to get Christians to come out from hiding.
But Ananias decides to trust God and he becomes instrumental in the story of apostle Paul. As a matter of fact, this would be the one story about him that Ananias would be remembered for (he is not mentioned anywhere else in the bible).
So this brings up a big question for me. Even though God has proven Himself to be entirely trustworthy in our lives, why do we sometimes not trust Him? Perhaps it has more to do with the things that He asks us to do.
I know that when I was first being called into the ministry that I am in currently, I had a long dialog with God. I was sure that my current trajectory was a much better one. Especially since God was calling me to uproot my family and move them to a place far away from most of our friends and family. I can say that I resisted at first, because God was calling me to do something that seemed crazy. But I had forgotten one of the most important things about God – He is absolutely trustworthy.
You see, God does ask us to trust us Him many ways. He asks us to trust His Holy Scriptures, and in my life, they have never failed me. He asks us to trust His Will for His Church which I have dedicated my life to. And most importantly, He asks us to trust His will for our lives. Believing in God, means trusting in Him. And as we see with Ananias, this may not always be the easiest thing to do.
SEASON 8, EPISODE 12 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1) Carl died from his wounds that came from an incident where he trusted a stranger? Do you think that he should have trusted Siddiq? Why or why not?
2) Carl didn’t know Siddiq was a doctor. Hilltop desperately needed a doctor. Do you think that changes your opinion of what Carl did? Why or why not?
3) When someone violates your trust, what does that do to your other relationships?
4) If you believe in God and that He is totally trustworthy, does that mean that you always trust Him? Why or why not?
5) Have there been circumstances in your life where it was very clear what God wanted you to do, but what He was asking you to do was just too difficult? What happened?
6) If you said yes, to question five, would you make the same choice again? Why or why not?
7) Ananias has to balance what he has heard about Saul with what God is saying about Saul. Do you think that that this was hard for Ananias? Why or why not?
8) Ananias raises an objection to God and God answers it. Then Ananias responds with trust. Why do you think that Ananias didn’t raise other objections?
9) Even though God may have never told you to do something audibly, what are some ways that God has asked you to trust Him in your life?
Thom McKee Jr. is a husband, father, pastor… and film geek (and brother of Jonathan McKee). Thom lives in Northern California with his wife and two kids.