One of the longest days of my life was a 24-hour, two-layover journey from Rome to Salt Lake City. The worst part of the trip was the Paris-New York leg: thanks to the very thorough security at Charles De Gaulle Airport, I did not have time to eat breakfast, so by the time I made it to JFK Airport after a seven-hour flight, I was famished.
Letting Go of the Wheel
The food options were limited by my gate, so I ended up going to a place that I otherwise would have avoided: an overpriced grill blaring country music (nothing against country music). I did not have that much money to spare, but since I had no choice, I ordered an overpriced burger and overpriced fries and dug in, happy to relieve my hunger although worried about my wallet.
A surprise came when it was time to pay. I was informed that a couple had seen my clerical collar and had been kind enough to cover my bill; before leaving, they had even told the waitress that I could order dessert! Very grateful for the strangers’ generosity and relieved that my travel money would not be depleted, I sat back to enjoy the rest of the meal. At that very moment of relief, a song by Carrie Underwood came on the restaurant’s sound system: “Jesus Take the Wheel.” It occurred to me that when you do let Jesus take the wheel, he takes care of everything, even your wallet!
The first of the five steps to being at peace is trusting completely in God and just letting Him “take the wheel”. This step is really the most crucial: once we abandon ourselves completely to God’s loving Providence, everything else simply falls into place. It really is amazing how He provides when you let Him: He loves us so much that He not only takes care of our needs but will often give us extra gifts just to make us happy.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of then, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:1-4
Spiritual growth (which includes growth in peace) is the inverse of physical growth. Humans begin their lives small and utterly dependent on their parents, but gradually they grow in size and strength and gain more and more autonomy until they are capable of being entirely independent. In the spiritual dimension, on the other hand, most of us begin very autonomous, thinking that any progress depends on our own efforts, but as we grow spiritually, we slowly begin to realize that in reality everything depends on God. We slowly diminish our autonomy as we become more and more dependent on Him; the more we trust in God, the more child-like we become.
At first glance, the thought of becoming child-like and dependent on anyone may strike us as very unattractive, but it should not. When our Lord tells us to become like children, He is not telling us to return to an immature, infantile state of being; rather, He is telling us to relate to God in the way in which we should relate to Him in the first place.
Being like a child in relation to God is far from enslaving or patronizing: it is liberating and exhilarating! The more we relate to God with child-like trust, the less we allow ourselves to be dominated by concerns and worries; the more dependent we become on our Father, the less dependent we become on ourselves and our limited capabilities.
Enjoy Not Being God
We really have only two choices: we can either go through life constantly tense and uptight as we frantically try to hold things together, or we can accept the fact that we are beloved children of an infinitely powerful Father. When we live according to the latter choice, the peace we experience is amazing! If human parents are willing to go to incredible extremes to care for their children, so much more will God, who loves us infinitely and possesses infinite power, take care of our every need. He leaves us with nothing to do but enjoy the ride!
We often worry ourselves ragged as if the whole world depended upon us, but as one of our seminary’s spiritual directors told us recently: “Just relax…and enjoy not being God!”
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)
Confide with Audacity
When it comes to trusting in God, we ought to do so with audacity, knowing that we are His beloved children; we are objects of His infinite love, and as such, we have every right to actually expect our Father to take care of us. We should put the pressure on Him, so to speak, by simply not worrying and leaving it to Him make things happen.
By renouncing finally and completely all control of my life and my future destiny, I was…freed thereby from anxiety and worry, from every tension, and could float serenely upon the tide of God’s sustaining providence in perfect peace of soul. – Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.
The next time that you find yourself worrying about something that you really want or need, try being audacious with your trust in God: if the situation allows, determine to leave it completely in God’s hands and “put the pressure” on Him to take care of it. I think that the results of this exercise of faith will amaze you! When you trust completely in God, He always acts.