Tag Archives: trust

Nothing Wavering

“Trust me.”

James 1:5-6

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

We are told to trust that God will give us every good thing, that everything given to us by God will be for our well-being and joy. Sometimes, though… Sometimes, it’s so very difficult to trust. When something happens to us in our lives that is just so horribly sad, so painfully overwhelming… something that pierces and cuts our hearts so that even breathing seems a torment… it is then that we question God’s wisdom – or doubt that God cares anything for us, that there is any divine power at all to hear and answer our prayers.

And where does that leave us? In the dark world where we are shut in with our own workings, our own troublings, our own ways through, which are made of depression, anger, resentment, vengeance, or violence against others and ourselves. We are no longer open to the workings of the Divine, to the providence of God, to the ways of hope, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and peace. The world will always be imperfect – and we, self-centered creatures, imperfect within it – but, we cannot choose to be subject to the world. We are each created by the Infinite/Eternal One and all of our joy, all of our fulfillment, is dependent on Him, depends from omniscient God. If we give up faith in God’s love and give up hope in the power of our own God-given gift of loving, then we miss the entire point of life, the very reason for our own existence. And we are left to fruitless desires, despair, and the hellish resistance of truth.

What if we had real wisdom? We are told that the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. Too often, however, our thinking of this “fear” leads us to walk on tiptoe lest we arouse the wrath God and bring down upon ourselves horrible sorrows and pains. Our sins, we think, justly bring about God’s punishment and are the reason for every ailment, loss, or difficulty in our lives. As God is just, this must be true. And, yet… And, yet, the truth is that we human beings are designed in such a way that, when we sin, we punish ourselves. Not consciously do we punish ourselves, most of the time, but, rather, by our turning away from faith, hope, and love after we sin. It is the turning away from God that is Hell. And, if we had real wisdom, we would know not to do it.

Instead, our fear of the Lord would be the all-consuming recognition that God is God and we are not – the wholehearted acknowledgment that God, our creator, is free to crush His Creation if He so chooses. Know this. Know it, and let the knowledge cause you to tremble and quake. Submit to the fact of your own littleness and be utterly and completely humbled by the omnipotent Majesty of God. This is the beginning. And then…

The apostles on Mount Tabor fell down on the ground in fear of the Lord when the voice of God thundered above them. But, they did not remain with their faces buried in the dust. They were lifted up. They were lifted up by the touch of Christ, who bid them to stand upright and follow him. Christ, who told his followers over and over and over again to not be afraid, brings us God’s mercy, and bids us to rise and to advance in expectation of things not seen – in trust. For the action of hope and faith is trust and the fruit is the reception of everlasting love.

God chooses not to crush us. God wants to lift us up. God is ever generous, giving of Himself by creating everything in love, and lovingly sharing His own divine life with human beings by creating us in His own image with the spiritual gifts of intellect, imagination, and freewill. The question, then, is what will we choose to do? What do we want?

The life of faith is not an easy one. There’s nothing facile or mindless about it. Faith requires desire. We need to want something in order to have faith. We want by lacking and recognizing our lack, a process of pain and sorrow. It is in that humble recognition that we then ask. We ask God for what we lack in ourselves – not in the world, in the manner of possessions, sensations, or accomplishments, but in ourselves – patience, empathy, wisdom. By believing that God will, indeed, grant us every truly good thing, we give our whole hearts and lives to this belief. And, no matter what happens to us in the world, we do not let heartbreak, pain, grief, or any suffering batter us about like a mindless, purposeless, directionless thing. We act in faith and we live faithfully and we are brought forward through our lives by the endless gifts of God, led by the touch of Christ – carried by the love of Christ, with whom, in whom, and through whom we are wise… from beginning to eternity.

© 2014 Christina Chase

Arise, O LORD

Psalms 10:12

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

We who are weary here, crushed

beneath the burden of our existence in the world,

who cannot lift our heads for the weight of sorrow…

Some of us mutter to ourselves of our own misery,

defeated by the darkness to spurn any talk of light,

so drenched in wallowing are we that only the sharp

cutting of our tongues (and other weapons) upon the happiness of others brings

us any unpained recognition of being alive – and we curse that, too.

And some of us, bowed down with sadness and fatigue,

still cast our sight, like fishing lures, for any bite of hope,

bobbing along the surface, waiting for the nibble of a small comfort, or,

if brave enough, diving into the deep, submerging

the whole breadth of our brokenness into the ocean of divine mercy,

to be swallowed up by a greater being than ourselves,

one that is quick and liquid ready and eternally alive…

 

Rise up, O Lord, and bring with thee from the depth of the waters

all who have given themselves over to faith in the gulf of hope,

all who have sunk down in their littleness and plunged into their wounds

so they may seek and discover the love that abides there –

not their own miseries, but thy joy and thy triumph!

Lift thy hand, oh God, and with it, the multitudes

who, in their weeping and wretched afflictions,

did not spurn thy name, nor destroy thy images,

nor deny the gift of hope though the world made a mockery,

but who, rather, cast into the deep and trusted thee in the swim.

 

The One who lit the stars and set them in motion,

who pulls the tides with light-reflecting orbs,

and teems the earth and every body with the rush of life,

this is the One from whom I draw my living

and in whom I will pour all my tears and laughter and blood –

though the world forsake me and taunt me with their miseries,

I shall not be overcome… for I am already drowning in love.

 

© 2014 Christina Chase

 

Tell the Stars

Do I believe?

Genesis 15:3-6

  1. And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

  2. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

  3. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

  4. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom… You who fear him, trust in the Lord… God’s ways are above man’s ways… The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?… Fear not, for I am with you always….

Great stuff. As one who holds the Bible as Sacred Scripture, what do I do with these words? Do I hold them as sacred, as the most powerful and significant meaning of and for my life? If so, then I surely would not be suffering from a paralyzing phobia. But, I do have a phobia – a very serious one.

My particular “persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it”[1] is a fear of not being heard. I realize that this may seem to have some cosmic, mystic overtones, but I don’t mean it that way. I am literally afraid that nobody will hear me when I call out for assistance. Being completely physically disabled by a motor neuron disease, and, therefore, utterly dependent on others for every physical need – I cannot even scratch my own cheek – I have been told that my fear is reasonable. But, it isn’t. The phobic panic begins when my mother is simply vacuuming in the next room. Every time I hear an outside door open, my insides jump and I call out to make sure that someone is staying in the house with me. My parents know my phobia very well and they would never intentionally leave me alone to suffer. But, mistakes can happen, I know and I tell them – but I very much would like to trust them more. And, even if they are human and fallible – at least, I should trust God that nothing bad would happen to me even if no other human could hear me for 10 minutes or even an hour. God’s grace can surely even calm a panic attack. Right?

Is this a matter of a lack of faith? A priest, whom I greatly respect and admire, has told me that it is not. This is, obviously, a psychological problem. Maybe I need to go see a therapist. But, it does raise serious questions about human fears and how the faithful trust in the Lord.

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me…”[2].

Abram believed God when he was told that God would change his lot. Abram believed in the power of God to work miracles and to make the impossible possible. And Abram put all of his trust, all of this faith – all of his heart – in the LORD. “I believe” or “credo” means to give one’s heart. Abram followed God with utter trust, even though it meant leaving everything that he knew behind him. His leap of faith was a life-changing experience – it was even a name changing experience. This man did not merely believe, in an intellectual kind of way, that the words spoken to him by God were true. He believed in God. He was willing to give over everything to the One in whom he believed, the one to whom he had given his heart. Even when he didn’t understand. Even when he sorrowed over it. And God counted it as righteousness in him – Abraham was exactly who he was supposed to be.

But, we humans crave certainty. We want to know for sure. We want proof. But… Where there is proof, where is trust? Because there is no dead certainty in the life of faith (no, there is nothing dead in God) people are often uncomfortable in it. They turn to concrete matters and science for answers and guidance. If something cannot be methodically tested and, therefore, scientifically verified, then it is dismissed. But, by doing this, we miss out on the fullness of life. For there is something beyond certainty that is precious and powerful. There is something more beautiful and profound in the leap of faith than there ever can be in sure knowledge.

Am I sure?…

I am a messy, mixed up human being. And I am in love… and I am believing…

 

© 2014 Christina Chase

 

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/phobia

[2] Jeremiah 29:11-14

With Open Face Beholding

Lord, change me, make me new. Make me like you! – the plea of the sunflower.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.

Sunflower

There is a flower in my garden which is named for the sun. In appearance, much like the sun is she, golden arrayed, burning bright from the center with flaming colors outward spread. But there is more – much more meaning to her identity, because with the sun her whole existence is so lovingly aligned.

She does not mean to mimic or fool by merely sporting appearance – for what bird would dare to perch upon an orb of fire, and, so, what would she have to gain if she would scare away her own propagators, the midwives of her progeny with which she will be so heavy pregnant? She is humble and knows that she is merely a creature bound to the life-giving sun, and by no means desires to be a substitute. Yes, she stands tall and bold, but her height and breadth is but a measure of the depth of her humility, for her only wish, as far as a flower can wish, is to look up to that which she adores. It is the looking up that has raised her. It is the love of heavenly light that has opened wide her green-leafed arms. It is her submission to her Master that has given her flowery majesty.

For, all day long, while the sun shows forth his open face, shining full with glory, her rapturous gaze is all caught up in him. Every minute of every hour that passes, she faithfully follows his path with steadfast love. No matter what may come between them, whether mist or cloud or dark of night, it is him she always seeks, it is him that her hope will always find. Some dark days will fall, when a downpour may weigh her head too heavy to lift, but when the rays of the sun are visible again, the drops will slip from down her sunny cheeks and she will pay them no mind, not even to shake them away. She looks upon the sun again, never having lost him, for she has kept the thought and memory of him, the warmth of the gift that he has given, deep in her heart.

Yes, even when the sun slips over the edge of sight and pulls the veil of night down behind him, she is patient and trusting, and does not collapse in the darkness. Her head she bends down low – but not in despair, for one who loves as she loves can never hold despair – but in ever recognition of where her beloved lives. Though invisible to her petal eyes, her heart is not deceived and senses, with true love’s faith, his presence beneath the surface of the world. And so her vigilant gaze, ever fixed upon its deathless source, follows him as he shines on realms unknown and unseen, far from his touch get ever near to his soul. And when the night is opened slow, with tender, aching rush, the sun’s rays find her ready face, expectant in faith, and she receives anew the outpouring love of him whom she adores.

From this cause, then, is this flower called for the sun. He is her love, her reason, and her destiny. Her blossomy pledge of devotion is her very blossoming – and she is transformed by and into the one whom she loves.

© Christina Chase

And It Came to Pass

Is nothing sacred

Genesis 39:7-9

  1. And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

  2. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

  3. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Humans don’t like being told that there is something that we cannot have, that something is held back from us.  We want it all!  Or, at least, we want to be able to choose from everything what we want for ourselves.  Knowing this about us humans, imagine, then, being told that you cannot have children… and that you cannot have a place of your own… and that you cannot enter a building that has stairs.  Well, you would probably be very upset and overwhelmed.  Your anger and frustration would become heartbreak and sorrow, and maybe even despair.  I know because this is my life, my life of limitations.  My list of “can’ts” is very long.

Unable to walk, unable to take care of myself, unable to enter into a physically intimate relationship, unable to bear children – unable to even sit upright for very long each day – there are some people who, in my position, would think that life isn’t worth living.  I’ve never thought such a thing.  When diagnosed with my motorneuron disease at the age of 2, the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t live to be a teenager – well, I’ve tripled that, and counting….  The point is that, never in all that time, have I wanted to end it all.  I understand that life is a precious gift, as frustrating as its earthly limits may be, it is terribly beautiful.  And I gratefully accept the gift of life with all of its limits because, though painful and tedious, and often marred by horror, life is good, divinely created for goodness sake.  So, I lovingly receive the gift of life.

In accepting the gift, we accept everything that the gift is – and everything that the gift is not.  Not everyone who thinks that he or she would like to be a doctor has the actual ability to be a doctor.  Not everyone who dreams of competing in the Olympics will actually have the skills to get there.  I mean, hey, not everyone who runs for president becomes president.  There are limitations in life.  For everybody.  Does that mean that life is not worth living?

A man is put in charge of an estate while his master is away.  This master trusts this man with everything and gives him free license over everything in the estate – everything except the master’s wife.  There is one limitation to this man’s power, one place where he is not allowed to go.  Should he go there?  I know that there are some people who will answer this question with, “Yes!  If the wife is willing, why not?”  It’s as though we have forgotten about the existence of honor.  It’s as though we consider trust, like rules, as something to be broken.  After all, we are supposed to look out for number one, right?  Whenever we are presented with a situation in life we’re supposed to ask the question, What’s in it for me?  But, I ask these people, Do you truly love anything?  Is nothing sacred to you besides your own self-centered desire?

Someone who loves you gives you the key to his mansion for your use while he is gone.  He only asks that you don’t open one box.  Do you open it?  Your curiosity is intense and it feels like it’s killing you.  But it’s not really killing you.  It’s just trying to kill you.  If you give into that feeling, then a part of you will die.  The part of you that is honorable, the part of you that is trustworthy, the part of you that is loving will die a little in that moment when you open the box because you couldn’t handle a simple limitation.  You couldn’t take being told, No.  You weren’t strong enough.  You were selfish and feeble.  And, yes, it is a big deal.  If you abandon your honor and trustworthiness in favor of a momentary satisfaction of the flesh (in this case, curiosity) then you have sold your kingdom for a bitty chunk of fools gold.  And your capacity to give and receive love will be filled up with dust.

It took me many years to be able to accept the fact that the men that I would desire to have would not have me.  By “accept the fact” I don’t mean acknowledge it intellectually.  I mean that I no longer tried to fill the void left by this unfulfilled desire with indulgence in an active fantasy life or consumption of fictional literature, TV shows and movies.  And I didn’t even attempt to fill the void with some other pursuit or relationship, not even a spiritual one.  (For a true relationship with God is not a substitute for anything – it’s the real thing itself.)  Rather, I accepted my loneliness, my longing and my sorrow as essential components of my life.  No need to distract myself away from what I can’t have or waste time with pretending.  I am who I am.  The things that I cannot change in my life cannot be changed because they are my life – they are my life just as much as all of the happy abilities and situations for which I am so grateful.  Nobody is perfect.  And we are all different in our own unique ways.  What is it that Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina?  “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Or, to quote the Facts of Life theme song: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.”

There is such a thing as wanting too much than is good for us.  Everybody can’t do everything.  And, if we truly love one another, then we accept each other’s limitations.  And, if I truly love God, then I also accept the limitations given to me with this great gift of life.  And so I pray,

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the Courage to change the things that I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

If you decided to open that box in your loved one’s mansion, you may think that you were being brave.  But, you were only being stupid.  You lacked serenity.  I’m sure that Eve and Adam thought that they were being courageous and even wise when they ate that apple – that one fruit in all the great expanse of paradise that they were told not to eat.  But, look where it got them: naked and afraid.  So, let’s accept our real limitations as part of this real life that we have received as a terribly beautiful gift from the One who loves us most.  By accepting our limitations (and the limitations of others) we are freed to explore and enjoy all of the great qualities and abilities that are part of our lives.  We will not be blinded by distractions, denials, and make-believe substitutes as we pursue the true, the good, and the beautiful.  We will not strip ourselves of honor and trustworthiness – and therefore we will be more readily able to embrace the gift of life and prove ourselves worthy of the sacred trust that is given to us in the sacrament of baptism, deepening our capacity to give and receive love – which is the fullness of life.  By the grace of God, my limited life is a truly full life because I hold my whole life, and life itself, as sacred.

Christina Chase