Sunday, July 22, 2012

The purest act of Faith

"...I had always trusted in God. I had always tried to find his will, to see his providence at work. I had always seen my life and my destiny as guided by his will. At some moments more consciously than at others, I had been aware of his promptings, his call, his promises, his grace. At times of crisis, especially, I had tried to discover his will and to follow it to the best of my ability. But this was a new vision, a totally new understanding, something more than just a matter of emphasis.

Up until now, I had always seen my role—man's role—in the divine economy as an active one. Up to this time, I had retained in my own hands the reins of all decision, actions, and endeavors; I saw it now as my task to "cooperate" with his grace, to be involved to the end in the working out of salvation. God's will was "out there" somewhere, hidden, yet clear and unmistakable. It was my role—man's role— to discover what it was and then conform my will to that, and so work at achieving the ends of his divine providence. I remained—man remained—in essence the master of my own destiny. Perfection consisted simply in learning to discover God's will in every situation and then in bending every effort to do what must be done.

Now, with sudden and almost blinding clarity and simplicity, I realized I had been trying to do something with my own will and intellect that was at once too much and mostly all wrong. God's will was not hidden somewhere "out there" in the situations in which I found myself; the situations themselves were his will for me. What he wanted was for me to accept these situations as from his hands, to let go of the reins and place myself entirely at his disposal. He was asking He of me an act of total trust, allowing for no interference or restless striving on my part, no reservations, no exceptions, no areas where I could set conditions or seem to hesitate. He was asking a complete gift of self, nothing held back. It demanded absolute faith: faith in God's existence, in his providence, in his concern for the minutest detail, in his power to sustain me, and in his love protecting me. It meant losing the last hidden doubt, the ultimate fear that God will not be there to bear you up.

It was something like that awful eternity between anxiety and belief when a child first leans back and lets go of all support whatever—only to find that the water truly holds him up and he can float motionless and totally relaxed.

Once understood, it seemed so simple. I was amazed it had taken me so long in terms of time and of suffering to learn this truth. Of course we believe that we depend on God, that his will sustains us in every moment of our life. But we are afraid to put it to the test. There remains deep down in each of us a little nagging doubt, a little knot of fear which we refuse to face or admit even to ourselves, that says, "Suppose it isn't so." We are afraid to abandon ourselves totally into God's hands for fear he will not catch us as we fall. It is the ultimate criterion, the final test of all faith and all belief, and it is present in each of us, lurking unvoiced in a closet of our mind we are afraid to open. It is not really a question of trust in God at all, for we want very much to trust him; it is really a question of our ultimate belief in his existence and his providence, and it demands the purest act of faith..."

From Walter J. Ciszek's book He Leadeth me

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