Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Believe In God?

We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
-The Nicene Creed

Last week after daily Mass my friend, a young man who is discerning a call to the priesthood, needed to talk. "I've been whining alot lately," he confessed, "and I know it. I keep wondering if I can do it, if I can live that life for sixty or seventy years." He went on, listing his many worries: austerity, celibacy, family... After he expressed his concerns, and after I gave him the motherly hug he needed at that moment, he said to me, "Gina, will you pray with me?"

I immediately started into my little request for him: for a clear, obvious sign that would tell my friend exactly what he needed to hear so he could move forward. More importantly, I now realize, I listened to my friend as he prayed aloud to God: "Dad," he said, "I need your help. I'm confused. I don't know what to do. You always help me, Father. I know you hear me, Dad, sometimes I can't hear you, and I know it's because I'm not listening. And I'm scared, Dad. I'm scared, but I trust you, Father. And I love you."

Dad. Wow.

His prayer went on like this for quite a while, the conversation between a small child crying and his Daddy, comforting him. I held his hand throughout his prayer, and I prayed silently with him, feeling utterly humbled.

My friend helped me to really understand something that I've always kind of known, but wasn't applying to my daily faith: believing that a God exists who does wondrous, miraculous things by merely speaking them, and believing IN this same God are two entirely different things. How often do we--do I--confuse them?

While I was very sincere in my prayer, thinking that I was praying with my whole heart for my friend, I was doing nothing more than telling God that I wanted something, as if he were some genie in a bottle that I summon periodically to perform a little trick for me. In other words, I was merely demonstrating that I believe a God that does signs and wonders exists.

Didn't many of Jesus' followers do this same thing? Even after he fed thousands on a hillside with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, many still had to ask him: "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?" (Jn 6:30) When he not only withheld the sign, but gave them an answer that they didn't like, didn't many of them turn away from Him? I wonder how many times in my life I've done this very same thing. I wonder if I'm any different from these followers, coming to Jesus to give me a flashy parlor trick so that I can continue to believe.

My friend didn't need a parlor trick. What he needed was compassion, understanding and love. He needed his hand held. He needed the relationship that is BELIEVING IN GOD. He needed to get beyond the signs, and really enter into that relationship with the Living Lord.

In those moments that I shared with my friend, I realized that I need it, too.

8 comments:

Nicole Z said...

This is an awesome and much needed post today. First, the relationship that this friend has with God is an wonderful example of how we should pray. Also, sometimes even the most faithful (sadly myself included) looks for the "genie in a bottle" God when we feel as though we are, even if just for a moment, on our walk all alone. This is the most important time for us to be compassionate towards others. Since we are His hands, His feet, we must proclaim the Gospel to each other and treat each other as Jesus would. This is living up to our commandment.

On a side note, thank you for holding my hand today and all of the other times :) You show me the compassion of our Living Lord.

Gina said...

"Since we are His hands, His feet, we must proclaim the Gospel to each other and treat each other as Jesus would." TRUE STORY!

...and you are welcome...I'm happy to be Christ for you, as you are for me so many times too!

Lex said...

what a beautiful thing to share! I am still on my learning path in prayer and to get to the point that your friend is at in his prayer relationship with the Lord, is the ultimate goal to strive for....AWESOME!!

Gina said...

Lex, aren't we all! I had no idea how far I had to go in prayer until this very moment. Love the comments...thank you so much!

Lola Jax said...

Gina, you may never know just how deep and broad an impression you leave with fellow Christians. You are truly vibrant with the Lord's spirit!! At some point, we all - even the "devout" children - go through a "genie in a bottle" moment.

I'm going through what you're young friend is going through. I'm struggling to discern where God is leading me. One reason why I so readily accepted the call to be an Associate (I say readily but it was truly 4 years in the making) is because I was wrestling with the idea of taking vows and being a sister with the HMs. I'm no closer to an answer than I was 4 years ago, but, according to Megan McKenna, maybe it's because of my close, personal relationship with my Daddy instead of a humble relationship with the Creator of the Universe. It makes sense. Sometimes the answer gets clouded in the closest of relationships because the other person so very much wants the best for you, while someone a little more distant from the scene has the eyes to see all involved and the heart with which to tell you how it is. And lately, as I have been reminded in random readings and conversations of Isaiah 30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" and reminded to take time away from the outside world to commune with the Father, I am learning that sometimes, the faith walk gets hardest right before you get the answer God is waiting to tell you. All the best for your friend and much love to you.

Gina said...

Lili, what you write here is I think the struggle that ALL of us have. Some of us have been blessed enough to develop that close relationship with our "Dad", with our "Papa", our faithful friend; and we forget that he's ALSO our keeper. Sometimes our faithful friend needs to pull out of our view so we can see the plans he's laid ahead for us. It doesn't mean he leaves us, which is the part that I think we have the most trouble grasping.

Trusting in God completely is most difficult.

All my love back to you as well, my sister, and I can't wait for your profession next week!

Anonymous said...

GINA, I LOVED READING YOUR STORY FROM YOUR NEW DAILY MASS WAIK. I REMEMBER YOU MENTIONING ABOUT THIS YOUNG MAN, BUT HAD NO IDEA THAT YOU ACTUALLY WERE THE PUPAL THIS TIME INSTEAD OF THE HELPER OR COMFORTER. JUST READING YOUR LETTER GAVE ME GOOSEBUMPS. I CANNOT IMAGINE WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AND HEART BEING RIGHT THERE LISTENING TO HIM. I AM SURE YOU WERE QUITE TEARY EYED AT THIS EXPERIENCE. BE HAPPY YOU WERE INVITED TO SUCH AN ENCOUNTER.....YOU SURE HAD QUITE A LESSON THAT MORNING DIDN'T YOU??? LOVE, JANET

Gina said...

Hi Janet, thank you so much for reading! This definitely was a lesson for me, and a real highlight in my spiritual life. For quite a while, the theme of my spiritual journey has been to not just expect change, but to seek it out as the perpetual student in all situations.

And let me say now, Janet, your enthusiasm and joy is such a blessing to me, and I'm sure to everyone who encounters you! You are such a gift!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...