“Father Abraham, had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham…”
The story of Abraham is one long narrative about trust and surrender. God promised him a son, promised that he would be the father of many nations. Hard to believe that promise when month after month, year after year, your wife remains barren. Still, Paul tells us, “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4. 20-21).
My spiritual reading for the past few months [Into Your Hands, Father by Stinissen; The Diary of St. Faustina] has been tending this theme of trust. And so I’ve been asking myself, do I really trust Him? Am I growing strong in my faith and giving glory to God, fully convinced of His ability? Are my prayers of surrender, of proclaiming my trust in His goodness just empty words?
I say that I desire to abandon myself to Him, but I keep tight hold on the reins of control (or so I think). As soon as something happens that I didn’t plan or expect, I freak out, wondering, “What have I done wrong? Did I not cooperate with His grace? Why is this happening?” I may relegate to Him one or two paltry things. Or maybe I give Him a big thing and then won’t let go the little details. It boils down to this: I think I know what is best for me and fear that He won’t give me what I think I need. I don’t acknowledge His great love for me.
Of course, He knows this and so is trying to teach me through what I read and hear.
A couple of weeks ago, the homily at my parish focused on the idea that God, as Love itself, always wants what is best for each of us. Even the perceived bad events, God allows or wills that I may become the woman He has loved since before the world began. Stinissen says, “Is it not ridiculous to think that certain things could be lacking to us or that someone or something could put obstacles in our way? God knows exactly what we need…When we complain we usually do it because of our imaginary needs” (34).
He continues, “Frustration comes when we do not get what we think we need, when what we expect does not happen. Those who trust that God is guiding everything can never be frustrated. If they do not get a certain thing, they know they do not need it. If something they have waited for does not happen, they conclude that it is not meant for them” (35).
I get frustrated just reading that.
Then St. Faustina chimes in: “Nothing under the sun happens without Your will. I cannot penetrate Your secrets with regard to myself, but I press my lips to the chalice You offer me” (#1208).
Isaiah gives me a picture of God’s great love for me. “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flame shall not consume you…Fear not, for I am with you” (43.1-2, 5). Jesus Himself teaches His apostles, “Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7.9-11).
In A Western Way of Meditation, the author states that God’s goodness and willingness to give good things is “limited only by our weaknesses, our insincerity, and our unwillingness to accept the consequences of our communication with him” (Bryan, 9).
What’s the answer? Love. He loves me. I love Him. Not nearly as much as He deserves. But in His goodness, I pray that He sees my attempts. That in His mercy, He keeps showing me, little by little, areas of my life I need to entrust to Him. My self-image. Food. Finances. Educating my children. Schedule. Personal reading. Relationship with my husband. I’m like a little toddler with my fist clenched around a little pebble. He has to peel my fingers back one by one. I wish I could just let go. Fall in His arms and just be.
Lord, teach me how to let go. How to fall. How to be. How to love You.
Oh, and just a note. Abraham didn’t always get it right, either. So Lord, please teach me to fail. And try again.