Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where Is God?

Men and women are rising up throughout the world; peace seems to elude everyone. And while an unease and fear casts an air of dread over many, some wise men are asking: Where is God in all this? Where is God?

Today listen to the voice of the Lord. I began my prayers this morning with those words from Psalm 95, and reflected again on their meaning. I used to think it meant to search for the voice of the Lord, to listen and see if He is calling me now. Maybe He was, but maybe he was not. I tried to humbly accept that perhaps I was not his Number One disciple, and perhaps He was not calling me right now; He had others and more important work to tend to, and so I would be content to wait. But then I saw the words of my prayer again. It says to listen to the voice of the Lord, not for His voice. The prayer is saying that He always is speaking to me, always, so listen to Him. So it is not a matter of waiting until He speaks to me; He always is speaking to me, in some way, for some purpose. And I should listen.

God calls to us in the now moment. We needn’t worry about the past or fret about the future; the now moment is the time we are living in, and He calls to us. The classic book Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, says to “leave everything else to God, except for your love and obedience to the duties of the present moment.” He notes that “we must cherish it ceaselessly and always be ready to obey its promptings,” which come from all around us. So often we think of our relationship with God as a thing between Him and us uniquely, but He works through others also. So our job, our family, our praying in church, these are all things to focus on and try to do well, if that is where we are at this moment. We don’t have to go on crusades looking for God; He will find us in our everyday lives. And he will call to us, and be with us.

At the Catholic mass since the earliest days, the priest says: Dominus vobiscum --- The Lord be with you. And the people respond: Et cum spiritu tuo --- and with your spirit. We pray that the Lord’s spirit be with the priest as He offers mass, that the priest might truly put on the person of Christ, and He might be present with us as we offer the sacrifice to the Father. This uniting of Christ to us in the action of the priest is what we all pray for at the mass. Our daily prayers should also be that we may be working with God in our actions, doing His will.

Sometimes in our desires to work with God we get confused; this has happened often to people of any faith. Some go to the extreme of expecting God to do everything: this is called providentialism, where people trust God to solve all their problems. On the opposite extreme, Pelagianism taught that God gave people talents and a will, and expects them to be His hands, in everything. On one extreme, God works alone, and on the other, we work alone. But the Catholic Church, and indeed many other religions, teach that we work together, like friends. Jesus said “my yoke is light”. A yoke connects two oxen; they pull together. The challenge of all men of faith consists in getting the right balance between God and us in sharing the burdens of this life.

Where is God? In all our trials He is right next to us. Don’t pray to Him in some far off place and ask Him to act, and don’t jump to the fore and try and fix everything yourself, your way. Instead, ask Him how you should go, together. I wrote recently of a test of your actions and motives: are you primarily thinking about bettering or changing things for yourself? If you answer ‘yes,’ then I believe you should stop and pray. Talk to this God who is near you. Is this the way you, AND HE, should be going? Although He loves you, I suspect few of His intentions are for you and you alone. He loves all men.

I pray God is next to men and women who are rising up around the world. I fear that perhaps many are trusting that He will make good out of all this, and they are quiet. I fear that perhaps many are trusting that they --- and they alone --- know His will, and will do as they please to make things right for themselves. But if He is with them, I trust that they will take actions for the ultimate greater glory of God, and for the love of their neighbor first, and not for themselves.

I have faith. I will not be anxious.

No comments:

Post a Comment