Monday, January 16, 2017
Why Should I Believe in Jesus?
There is a large bridge soon to be built in a nearby city. I don’t know if I will ever drive over it. What if it should fall? I’ve read about bridges that have collapsed suddenly, and many died.
I’ve heard lots lately about fake news; it’s everywhere. Should I cancel my paper subscriptions? How can I trust what I read is true?
IF: I one day slipped and fell off a mountain and were hanging by my fingertips above a bottomless pit, and a man reached down and said: “Give me your hand,” should I let go and trust him? And if I remember that this very same man stood by, right next to me, when I slipped, and he did nothing to stop my fall --- would ANY sane person trust him? It may be that he WISHED my fall; why should I believe he would now help me?
I’m thinking about stopping this blog. It seems God is becoming all consuming in my life. I think about Him a lot. And He seems to speak to me, in ways that, well, in ways that friends do. I seem to understand His desires for me more, and my expectations of Him have gone beyond prayers as mere wishes. And who would believe such things are happening to me, and why would I want to convince them? At my spiritual director’s behest I maintain a separate journal of God’s interventions in my life and in my thoughts. Blessed John of Avila wrote: “Withdraw your heart from the world before God takes your body from it.” I turn 70 this week. Where should my priorities be? Why should I worry about what others believe, or even write what I do?
What to believe? What to do? I read a meditation in Divine Intimacy last night. In discussing the parable about the vine and the branches I read: “Oh! Grant that my soul may become always more closely united to You, and may always be ready to receive the vital sap of grace which You produce in me, Your branch!”
Those two words struck me. Your branch! The Vine and the branch are connected, and from the vine flows the Food of Life. I think that when I was young, I didn’t have the maturity to understand God. I believed in Him as a fact, like I believed in the sturdiness of a bridge. Someone I trusted (mom and dad) told me it was so, and I believed in them and what they said --- not in God and not the bridge themselves, I believed in my parents. They loved me. And looking back, I wasn’t sure I knew God any more than I did that bridge, or that He loved me more than it. I didn’t trust Him. And there came a day when I DID fall suddenly, and I recalled that He HAD seen the cliff and my fall coming --- He is God --- and yet He did nothing. But --- as I was taught --- He would reach out His hand to save me, and I looked for it then. And I didn’t see it.
I thought a lot about God after that point. Were the things my parents taught me wrong? They were wrong about some other things, facts I eventually learned were untrue. They, with their sixth grade education, didn’t know some things that I, with my college degrees, did. I didn’t hold that against them, but God? Were they wrong in what they taught me there, too?
For God’s own reasons He eventually did reach out to me --- not when I planned, nor in the way I called Him to. I was compelled beyond all my wise logic to travel half way around the world to a Marian apparition site --- if my friends had known I was doing that they’d thought me nuts (and maybe I thought the same thing). But there, in His way, God showed me that He DOES exist, really! And Jesus lived, and died, and loved --- me! And still does! And I KNEW and I believed, and I began to earnestly speak to Him. And, over time, we became friends. And I learned to trust Him, always.
Why should I believe in Jesus, you may ask (as I did)? Perhaps a better question is: Why won’t you? Someone taught you things which at some point you came to not understand, or believe. So what? So did I. Is your belief too personal of a thing to talk about: “I must believe; I must understand these things myself; You can’t convince me?” Are you one of those people who believe that you (or someone else) might believe they are a man today, and then believe they are a woman tomorrow? Would you believe such things that you can SEE aren’t true, yet DEMAND to see things you can feel are true --- yet can’t be seen? Belief is based on facts and reason --- the Catholic Church teaches that, you know. It doesn’t teach things which aren’t factual and reasonable --- and yet may not be totally understandable. Like why Jesus saved me by a miracle, but perhaps not someone else. Like why He answered my prayer, only not when and how I asked. Why would you think it unreasonable that God, a living being, wouldn’t do things differently than you, as all other living beings do? No ones the same. And why wouldn’t you reasonably think He could do it better, since He is so much wiser than you? Are you still that little kid at heart, who doesn’t know if they can trust mommy and daddy?
Why should you believe in Jesus? Look at the facts; take time to study them and reason out events and people. And talk to Him. Don’t just think “I have to understand.” TRY to understand! And He is a person; talk to Him like one. That was a failing of MY youth. I didn’t do that. No one taught me that, if you want to know someone, really know them, you have to talk to them.
One of the greatest prayers ever written was: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
“With age comes wisdom” is a sociological, biological, and scientific fact; it happens naturally without you doing anything. But you can work at knowing Jesus better, and then you WILL know Him better, even in your youth. And when you fall and can’t see a way back up, he will reach out His hand and you will have confidence in taking it. He did to me.
And you can come to know He’s there now and always. Why should I believe in Jesus? Why should you believe in anyone, ---- Who loved you so much that He DIED for you? Won’t you even try to know Someone who loved you that much? The facts and reason say He did; He does.
A picture with its prayer hangs on my kitchen wall. It is the food of my life: “My Jesus I trust in You.”