Monday, August 4, 2014

you can't fake surrender

It is I” ~Mathew 14:27

“God is in all things, sustains all things, directs all things. [To] see his will in all things was to accept each circumstance and situation and let oneself be borne along in perfect confidence and trust… By renouncing, finally and completely, all control of my life and future destiny, I was… freed from anxiety and worry, from every tension, and could float serenely upon the tide of God’s sustaining providence in perfect peace of soul.” ~Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

michael & michelle walking the Italian beach

It is often only in retrospect that life can be seen accurately. A good example is looking back and remembering the worse, most difficult, most painful moments in my life, or other critical life changing events.

Days, months, or more likely, years later, I eventually recognize that one of the graces—or dare I call them blessings? —of these moments is how clearly I later see the hand of God in the details of my life.

A few years when Michael, Michelle and I fell asleep on a deserted beach in southern Italy and, while we were sleeping, our travel bag stolen. Not only did the bag have our passports, money, credit cards, camera, it also had the keys to our rental car, so we weren’t going anywhere!

My honest but bold prayer that day still makes me laugh.  As I walked up and down the beach cussing under my breath and checking every trash bin in the hope that some of our things had been dumped and left behind, the words I burst out loud were more of a dare than a prayer: “Oh fine. Let’s see how you’re going to get us out of this one!”

In God’s eternal, faithful, and even humorous love, the answer was immediate.  A young couple down the beach came to ask how they could help us. They drove us to the nearby police station, and even took us to the flat that was our home for the week, even though it was several towns away. We are now Facebook friends with our Italian angels.

On a more serious note, during recovery from surgery on my cervical spine eight years ago, I remember feeling so completely empty, powerless, and broken that my only prayer was one of surrender. I felt lonely and vulnerable, yes. But I wasn’t asking God for help as much as keenly aware that only in Him, through Him, with Him, could I continue living. It was both sobering and liberating.

But why do I wait for a moment when I feel completely helpless to trust the God who loves me so faithfully day after day? How can I make the shift in attitude from having confidence in God because that’s what I should do—to truly and completely surrendering myself to God in trust with every detail of my life?

The thing is that I don’t want my actions and prayers to be based on a religious or pious definition of what or how a good Catholic Christian should act.

What I really want is that serenity Father Ciszek describes and that I've experienced during crisis, the type that frees me from anxiety and worry. I want to surrender to God—because I am loved, and that changes everything.

I want love to be my catalyst.

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