Tag Archives: Trust

Getting Things Done…with God

Dear friends,

The holidays are here, along with the temptation to exhaust ourselves trying to make them “perfect.” I would like to re-share with you this lesson God taught me some years ago about the importance of not allowing ourselves to be enslaved to our to-do lists. I hope you find it helpful.

Sincerely,
Eric

God-Lights

Growing up Air Force:

I grew up in an Air Force family, so I always lived near or on a military air forcebase. My childhood took place underneath the roaring engines of F-16’s and the whirring propellers of C-130’s; my friends were officers’ children, and all of us were marked in one way or another by the military ethos of our parents.

Growing up, most of the men I knew were either engineers or pilots, all very driven individuals whom I admired a great deal (my father especially). I loved their discipline, dedication, resourcefulness, and efficiency. I loved going on base and watching the jets take off and seeing the airmen running here and there, fulfilling their respective missions. Even though I was just an “Air Force brat” (as we were humorously called by our parents), I liked to think that I was a part of the team; I always felt at-home on base and dreamed of…

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Letting God Love You

Rat-raceWe live in a world that hyper-emphasizes work and personal success. It teaches us to esteem ourselves according to our personal achievements, and often we project this faulty vision on our relationships with God. All too often, we think and act as if God’s love for us were somehow conditioned by how virtuous we are and by how often and well we pray.

God’s Infinite Love

Nothing could be farther from the truth. God’s love is not proportionate to our spiritual merit; rather, His love for us is infinite. All that He wants from us is that we accept His love and receive it with grateful hearts. All He wants is that we love Him back.

Imagine a marriage in which the husband day-in and day-out strives to show his love for his wife in many different details. He always kisses her good-bye in the morning, he texts her throughout the day, he often gives her little gifts, he prepares special meals for her on the weekend, and organizes well-thought Sunday outings and vacations.

Now what if his wife never did anything to thank him or show appreciation for his thoughtfulness and love? What if she remained completely indifferent and sometimes ignored his efforts? At the very least, she would be extremely ungrateful and thoughtless.

Unfortunately, this is how we too often treat God. Day-in and day-out, He offers us little gifts and manifestations of His infinite love, yet we pay them no attention.

Most of the times, this lack of gratefulness is not a result of bad intention but simply happens because we are too focused on ourselves. We put too much focus on what we are doing to love God and not enough on how He is loving us.

Nothing too Small

Since His love for us is infinite, there is nothing that is too small forimage Him to do to show us His love. He whispers His love to us in cool breezes, beautiful sunsets, and chirping birds. He expresses His love through the love of others – the constant love of our family and friends and through the random acts of kind strangers. Sometimes He loves us through special coincidences and little miracles.

When we receive gifts from God, we often think that we are obligated to do something in return, but, again, this is far from the truth: God’s love in no way depends on us. We can do nothing to lessen His love, and we can do nothing to increase it – it is already infinite.

How awesome it is to think that we are the recipients of infinite love! I believe that our lives would be so different if we remained aware of this amazing fact.

Responding to God’s Love

Although God requires nothing from us in return, He does desire our love, and we do not have to do much to show it. Little prayers such as “I love you” or “Jesus, this is for you” mean more than we can imagine. Also, simply spending time with our Lord is another way to show our love. When we put ourselves in His presence, be it in the silence of the church or the silence of our rooms, we express our love for Him in a powerful way.

Just being with Him means so much to God. Even if we are tired and barely able to pray, all that matters is that we want to be there with the Lord.

Lucy waiting for her belly rub.
Lucy waiting for her belly rub.

Many of us have the joy of having pets. Although I do not have any pets of my own, but I always look forward to seeing my family’s Welsh Corgi whenever I visit home. Lucy is a funny little dog who loves nothing more than belly rubs and playing fetch. I enjoy doing both for her, and I have often thought how interesting it is that I love making her happy even though she can do little in return. It has occurred to me that our relationships with our pets are partially analogous to our relationship with God. Just as we love our pets in spite of their limited ability to reciprocate, so God loves us despite our own limitations.

Making It Real

imageLetting God love you is simply being aware of His love and being grateful for it. Try getting into this habit. At least one day this week, try to remember God’s love for you at least five different times, and thank Him for His love on each occasion.  I think that you will be amazed at how much the awareness of God’s love will elevate your day.

Five Steps to Peace: Step 1 – Trust Completely in God’s Providence

Busy-AirportOne 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.

Child-like Trust

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 katie-in-the-air1physical 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 jesus-childconstantly 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.

imagesThe 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.

Getting Things Done…with God

Growing up Air Force:

I grew up in an Air Force family, so I always lived near or on a military air forcebase. My childhood took place underneath the roaring engines of F-16’s and the whirring propellers of C-130’s; my friends were officers’ children, and all of us were marked in one way or another by the military ethos of our parents.

Growing up, most of the men I knew were either engineers or pilots, all very driven individuals whom I admired a great deal (my father especially). I loved their discipline, dedication, resourcefulness, and efficiency. I loved going on base and watching the jets take off and seeing the airmen running here and there, fulfilling their respective missions. Even though I was just an “Air Force brat” (as we were humorously called by our parents), I liked to think that I was a part of the team; I always felt at-home on base and dreamed of one day being an officer like my father.

Even though God had different plans for me, I joined the seminary with a lot of the values that I picked up by osmosis in my childhood milieu.  Thanks to my military father and my dedicated mother, I had been brought up to be a man who took his job seriously and disciplined himself to get things done. “Make it happen!” my dad would tell me when he assigned a task: no excuses were accepted – just a job well done.

Learning to Work with God

Now that I look back, I am very grateful for the high standard that my parents held me to because it prepared me for the real world; but I am even more grateful for the faith they imbued me with. They gave me a solid human foundation upon which grace can act, and they gave me the faith needed to be open to grace in the first place. The challenge left to me was learning how to rely on God while not relying too much on myself and my own virtue.

One day, during my pastoral internship in New York, I learned a lesson that taught me that every time you put God first and your own productivity second, it pays off. It was a busy day for me; I was in Midtown Manhattan running around fulfilling different assignments that my boss (a very energetic priest) had assigned me. My errands took me to the Upper East Side which I got to via subway.

As I came up out of the stop at 68th and Lexington Ave, a thought came to me: “Why don’t you take a break to pray a little while at St. Vincent Ferrer’s?” St. Vincent’s is a gorgeous Neo-Gothic church68th (my favorite in the city actually), and on any other day I would have been very happy to stop in and pay Our Lord a visit, but this particular day, I had way too much going on. I had an appointment 10 blocks north of the subway stop, so I was not too keen on walking three blocks in the opposite direction.

But after thinking about it for a moment, I made a quick “what-the-heck” decision and went to pop into the church. As soon as I walked in, I was happy to be there. St. Vincent’s interior is beautifully decorated with exquisite wood carving and impressive Gothic stonework. The light that filters through the blue stain glassed windows fills the apse, sanctuary, and nave with a calming aura. As the doors closed behind me, the traffic noise became a distant buzz and I allowed myself to be engulfed by the peaceful ambiance of my favorite urban oasis. I knelt down before the Lord, placed my head in my hands, and put my problems and worries into His.

St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church
St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church

After some time of calming serenity, I took my leave and stepped outside. As I left, I remembered that I had been asked by the priest to call someone who lived outside of the city. Walking down the front steps of the church, I pulled out my phone and started looking for her number in my contacts list, but as I was doing so, I heard someone call my name.  I looked up, and, believe it or not, the very person whom I was about to call was walking towards me!

Now, just think about it for a moment. I was in the middle of a city with over 8,000,000 inhabitants, and I just happened to bump into someone who did not usually go to the city in the first place. On top of that, I bumped into her just as I was about to call her! If I had stayed inside the church just a little longer, I would have missed her completely, as would have happened if I had not visited the church at all. The chances of us meeting at that exact moment were infinitesimal.

With that providential coincidence, God taught me a valuable lesson: give Him priority, and He will get things done for you. I gave Him a little bit of my time, and He did not ignore the small sacrifice. He is never outdone in generosity, so He made things a little easier for me that afternoon by saving me a phone call.

Rich Dividends

Prayer is a reward in itself, but we should not be surprised when God chooses toimage reward us for it. The next time you pass by a church, take a moment to step inside and greet the Lord, no matter how busy you may be. Have no doubt: in one way or another, your small time investment will yield rich dividends!