“There are things in a person which are hidden from the person in whom they are. And they won’t come out, or be opened up, or discovered, except through tests and trials and temptations. If God stops testing, it means the master is stopping teaching.” Saint Augustine of Hippo
If this year is any indication, God is definitely continuing his work in me.
In March, I learned an employer with whom I’ve worked four years had started advertising my job — without mentioning this fact to me. In September, I was told I would no longer be doing the job for which I moved across state. In November, one of my granddaughters was hospitalized after being injured at day care. And, the day before Thanksgiving, I learned I will not be able to collect unemployment.
I have to admit, I’ve lost some sleep over these things — which is to be expected, I suppose. But, at the same time, I am being drawn into a more intimate relationship with God that fills me with such joy!
At times, it feels as though I never knew God at all. I’ve realized I certainly didn’t trust him, not with my life. As my spiritual director observed, I have a tendency to take care of myself.
And though I’ve had some experiences in prayer which might be considered mystical prior to this, I’ve never before felt my heart open in complete surrender or felt such assurance that God is going before me, opening doors, even though at times there is little tangible evidence of this. It’s as though he has said to me, “You will hear my voice and follow me. It’s that simple.”
And it is — as long as I anchor each day in prayer and give thanks throughout the day for all the daily blessings that God pours into my life, blessings as easy to take for granted as the sweet joy of a granddaughter’s smile, a daughter’s hug or a good night’s sleep. But there have been other blessings as well — among them the gift that allowed me to attend a retreat that deeply nourished me, regular lunches with a friend whose companionship fills me with peace, the recommendation which helped me to land a freelance job.
But gratitude is only part of trust. Surrender is part of it, too, surrendering control, surrendering the need to know. Like the Israelites in the desert, I am being asked to trust God to provide each day what I need. I am being asked to trust that he has plans for my life even though I don’t know what the coming days hold.
This is a counter cultural approach to life. We are a goal-oriented, achievement-oriented, success-oriented people. We measure ourselves and one another by what we accomplish, what we acquire and who we know. To abandon myself to God instead of fighting to make a place for myself demands my trust in God be active. Granted, I must still do my part — apply for jobs and show up for interviews — but I must also be willing to wait patiently until God opens the door through which I will enter the next phase of my life. This kind of surrender requires a daily, sometimes hourly, choice.
I know this life I am living at present doesn’t look like a blessing, especially to those who care about me most, but it truly is wonderful. Learning to trust God is an experience for which it’s worth suffering. Perhaps, with God’s grace, this time will bear fruit that blesses others as well.