I Surrender All

I was on retreat this weekend with 800 kids from Indiana.1 I wasn’t giving any talks, just getting down in the trenches with some relational ministry and it was awesome.

Being in the audience, I got to participate in all the ridiculous games that MCs make you play. Turns out I’m not half bad at Simon Says. So we’re down to maybe 20 people in the whole gym and Simon Said “Don’t smile.” Y’all, I am incredible at not smiling. It’s probably my greatest skill of all time. I was the 1995 St. Mark’s Summer Youth Wave Darling-I-Love-You Champion, and if you’ve ever played that game, you know I’m for real. When told to keep a straight face, I have not once in my entire life cracked a smile.

So there I am, not-smiling, and assured of victory in this game2 when Manny pipes up behind me, “Miss, if you smile I’ll go to confession.”

Done. I turned to him and grinned. He looked rather taken aback: “But now you lose, Miss!”

“Ah, but your soul is worth more to me than victory.”

It got me thinking about all the many deals I’ve made with kids. When it comes to objective grace, I’m not above a little encouragement (read: bribery). I think that if all it took to get you to go to confession was my promise to buy you an *NSYNC3 t-shirt, you were probably looking for an excuse to go anyway. So if I can make a deal with you to get you to make good choices, I’ll do it.

I once told a guy I liked I’d take him to dinner if he went to confession.4 I ate a wasabi peanut for a kid who promised he’d do his homework for the rest of the year.5 I even had a kid tell me she’d save sex for marriage if I’d smoke a cigarette with her after graduation. Abso-freaking-lutely, darling.6 Just before I entered the convent, I offered a friend 10 grand to stop sleeping with his girlfriend. Ten thousand dollars. He said no. I guess you can’t win them all.

So I was sitting in the bleachers after this game of Simon Says congratulating myself on all the sacrifices I make for the kingdom when I realized how paltry they are. “If you do this for me,” I say, “I will surrender control over a very small aspect of my life.” A wasabi peanut? Seriously? Here I am thinking I make a darn good junior Messiah when I’m offering so little–and then only on the contingency that I trust someone to follow through on his end of the bargain. The real Messiah offered everything.

via flickr
via flickr

I was rather overwhelmed by this thought, that Jesus offered himself completely to us even knowing that we wouldn’t follow through on our end of the bargain. It kept coming to mind over the weekend. And then Saturday night, all 800 youth knelt on the gym floor for 2 hours as Father came around to each person with the monstrance. When Jesus approached me, I was staring at him with Father’s face just behind him when Father began singing along with the worship team: I surrender all to you, all to you. Jesus sang to me, “I surrender all to you.” Helpless and ridiculed in the Eucharist, he reminded me once again what his presence here on earth has always meant.

Jesus didn’t offer only his hunger or humiliation or suffering or even his death. Jesus offered every moment of his life. And when he rose, he offered it again. And when he ascended into heaven, he still wasn’t done. He came back for us in the Blessed Sacrament. And today, he waits for us in the tabernacle. He waits for every one of us–not just the worthy or the holy or the immaculate. He offered himself for you and for me, even though he knew we would betray him. Even though he knew we would ignore and reject and forget him. He didn’t die only for those who are good soil–the rocky and thorny and hard-packed ground are his, too. He died for obedient sheep and wandering sheep and black sheep and goats and sparrows and anyone who’ll have him and even those who won’t.

Christ on the Cross by Francisco de Zurbaran
Christ on the Cross by Francisco de Zurbaran

Each Lent, I’m reminded by my hunger that every moment is the Lord’s, that every sacrifice is for love of him. This year, I’m thinking especially of all that I hold on to, keeping it “safe” from a God who surrendered all for me. The pride and envy and security and control that I think I need, that I cling to even when the Lord tries to loosen my grip–how pathetic, compared with the glory he surrendered for me. I offer the Lord so much but I hold back. “Lord, I will pray a rosary every day for the rest of my life, but seriously don’t ask me to pray an extra one with those kids or I will freak out.” “God, I’ll give you an hour in adoration, but if the next person is 5 minutes late, you’d better have a good explanation for why I was stuck here.” “Lord, I can love everyone except that kid. Nobody could love that kid.”

It’s easy to congratulate ourselves on what we’ve given to the Lord. When we start to see what he’s given to us, our paltry sacrifices don’t seem quite so impressive. Praise the Lord that he doesn’t ask what we have to give before offering us his very self, body, blood, soul, and divinity. He surrendered all for us. He surrenders all for us. Forget all those little sacrifices–let’s meet him in the Eucharist and offer our lives to him.

  1. South? Central? Wherever Carmel is–I never did look at a map. But I did figure out that I was on Eastern time, so that’s a plus. []
  2. Have I mentioned that I’m wildly competitive? []
  3. Definitely had to google that to see how to capitalize/punctuate it. []
  4. Score! Grace and a date. []
  5. He didn’t turn in a single thing, I’m still bitter. []
  6. A year and a half later, still a virgin. So maybe she breaks her promise–at least I got her to think twice about it. []


Anything for attention, right?

I was born a performer. By the time I was five years old, I was organizing my cousins into a theater troupe at family gatherings. I would write, direct, and star in the show we put on, while the rest of them (all older) would roll their eyes and go where I directed them. I have a vivid memory of striking a deal with them; they wanted to color, I wanted a play. The compromise? I let them color on stage. So we had two minutes of me hamming it up as a teacher in a one room schoolhouse followed by ten minutes of all the actors sitting on stage coloring while I glared at any adult who should happen to whisper. Not my finest moment as an artist, but I am rather proud of my precocious ability to manage people.1

I suppose it comes as no surprise that after learning that I couldn’t be a priest, I found the most visible liturgical roles that I could. I lectored and I cantored whenever I had the chance. I was used to performing, after all, so I might as well do it for God.2

But I found that I got a lot more nervous before I sang at Mass than I did before I sang at an a cappella concert. If I messed up a solo, I looked like an idiot. If I messed up a psalm, I could distract people from God; the stakes were a lot higher.

Can you tell by the look on my face that I’m trying to read the organist’s music from four feet away?

So before each Mass, I made an offering to God. I asked him to guide my voice and told him that I trusted him to do what was best for the salvation of souls. Then if I did well, I knew it was by his grace. And if my voice cracked or I messed up the words, I trusted that he would use that for his glory. Maybe my failure convinced somebody that she could praise God even if she was flawed; maybe awkwardly singing the wrong verse snapped someone out of his daze and got him paying attention again; maybe I was just such a hot mess that it made somebody angry and forced her to confront her temper issues. I didn’t need to know how my screw-ups became blessings, but I trusted God that they did.

This new approach gradually began to transform the way I approached my ministry. I became less self-obsessed and better able to trust in God. But until recently, it stopped there: at liturgical ministry.

This summer, it hit me like a bolt of lightning–that offering, that trust, that surrender–I could do that every day, with everything! I could offer my whole life that way, not just singing at Mass. Instead of being consumed by pride when I do well or self-loathing when I screw up, I could trust God in all matters.

You see, when we say God is sovereign, we mean that he rules over all things. He could very easily intervene in daily matters (and I think he does more often than we give him credit for). When he doesn’t, though, we have to recognize that he chose not to. He is so desperate for our salvation and our holiness that I have to believe that he’s bringing all things together for our good even when he seems absent. Really, I have to believe it because Scripture declares it to be true:

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose…. If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? (Rom 8:28, 31-32)

Now, this clearly doesn’t mean that if you’re a good person God will give you rainbows and bunnies. I ellipsized3 the part where Paul says we have to be conformed to the image of Christ. You remember Christ, right–the guy on the cross? Clearly there’s going to be suffering on the way to this good that is promised.

What the passage tells us isn’t that “every little thing is gonna be all right” but that God is able to make all things work for good. Which means that the nonsense that I usually get all stupid about (“Oh, dear God, I was sarcastic to that kid who I thought would find it funny and he didn’t and now he’s going to hate you and your Church forever and be so unhappy all his life and just because I’m a jerk who can’t be bothered to think beyond a punchline and I’m not even funny and I’m just mean and insensitive and why, God, why am I so awful??”)4 isn’t actually the end of the world. Because God can use my idiocy for his purposes just as much as my brilliance. Probably more–there’s far more of the former.

So I’ve been trying recently to start my day with this prayer: Dear God, I offer you every moment of my life for the glory of your name and the salvation of souls.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about being a bank robber. Mostly, I couldn’t think of pictures to use so I found all the strange old pictures of me on facebook. Now the weirdest ones are saved in a folder for just this sort of occasion. You will not be surprised to hear that I’m doing ridiculous things in almost every picture ever taken of me.

Then when I’m an idiot or a jerk (notice I said “when,” not “if”), I can offer my failure again to God and trust that he can work it for good. Maybe it doesn’t make me act any better, but it helps me to be less self-centered.5 The more I can let go of my mistakes, the more I can be present to him and allow him to bless me, undeserving as I am.

I don’t know why not obsessing over the past seems like such an epiphany to me–maybe it’s more the idea of rejoicing in what’s gone before and even accepting all my weakness and poverty as gifts of God and instruments of his grace. In the end, God can work through my failings as easily as he can through my greatest victories.

A life consecrated to God will be used, through success or through failure. When I’ve given myself over to him, he’s going to let his will be done in me. I just need to trust him that my failure will not be to no purpose. In Christ, even my brokenness is in his will and is for his glory. So I will try to rejoice in failure because I know that my only success is that of the Cross. Failure is just a veil for the greatness of God working, somehow, through my brokenness.

A large part of the cross I carry is an ongoing battle with shame over such minor things. In this offering, I try to remind myself that a life of discernment, reflection, and recollection means I’m at least trying to do God’s will–there’s nothing to be ashamed of when I fail.

So I’m offering my life–and every awkward moment in it–Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG): for the greater glory of God. As Christians, we’ve got a pretty sweet deal. We offer God our shame and suffering and sin and in return, he gives us glory and joy and holiness. I’ve been pretty good at trying to make my whole life an offering to God; now I’m aiming at trusting that every awkward sneeze during the consecration, every ill-timed joke, and every overstayed welcome can be used for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

I’ve been toying with writing this for a few months. Then the other day, I found this prayer on a prayer card. You’re going to love this one:

Lord, I offer you all of me, all that I am and all that I am not. I offer you every good decision and every regrettable mistake, every great accomplishment and every missed opportunity, every divinely inspired gift and every unapplied talent, every success and every miserable failure. I offer you all joy and all heartache, every kindness and every bitterness to be forgotten, every twinkle in my eye and every tear flowing down my cheek, every great love and each lost or irrecoverable act of charity. I offer you every quiet reflective moment and all of the unneeded chaos around me, all things holy and good in me and all things in need of greater purification. I give you every joyful memory and every bitter foul pain, each future moment and every missed opportunity to love, every kind act and each regrettable harsh word, all meekness and humility within me and every misplaced prideful thought, every virtue and every weak vice, every laugh and all misery mixed with weeping. I give you every healthy breath and every weakness of mind and body, every attempt at chastity and every unworthy lustful thought, every restful repose and every anxious sleepless night. O Lord, you can have all of me, the beauty that you’ve deposited deep within me and the emptiness of my sinful faults. I love you and am yours completely. Amen. -Pedro de la Cruz

So let’s thank God for every aspect of our lives, the good, the bad, and the purple6 and trust that whatever situation or vice or awkwardness we can’t triumph over is a gift for our sanctification and the salvation of the world. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!


Sorry I’ve been MIA–lots of speaking engagements last week. I’ve got a few new Gospel meditations up if you want to check them out. New videos will be posted…soon.

If you’re in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast region of the country and you’ve got something you’d like me to speak at, hit me up. I’ll be trekking down to Georgia soon before camping out in DC for a while. I’d love to support you in your ministry!

  1. We’re saying “manage people” because if I say I’m proud of how bossy I was–and how good I was at it–then I sound like a jerk. []
  2. Ministry is not performance, I know. I didn’t then. []
  3. Is that a word? It should be. []
  4. You think I am exaggerating. Oh, how I wish I were exaggerating. []
  5. Funny how scrupulosity makes you more sinful, isn’t it? []
  6. As we used to say in my family, although I have no idea why. These things are usually cultural references that I didn’t catch as a child, but googling it only turns up Dragon Ball Z. []

Letting Him Lead

He taught me to dance in my tiny grad school living room.  We had to push the futon out of the way to have room.  Sure, I’d “danced” before, but I never could get my feet to do the right things, and I was nervous.  I’m not generally clumsy,1 but there’s something about someone being that close and paying that much attention to the movement of my body that just makes me nervous.

This is not a picture of that dance lesson (although it would have been nice if he had been wearing a tux). But it is a picture of me dancing. So that’s relevant. Right?

But he was nice, and not my type, so I let him teach me.

“What do I do?” I asked, as he put his hand on the small of my back.

“Just lean back,” he smiled.

“But what are the steps?  How do I count?”  I’m sure a look of panic crept into my eyes, despite my desperate desire to maintain my composure.

“Just lean back and let me dance you.  Relax and look into my eyes.  In this style, the guy does the work.”

So I put my arm around his shoulders and my hand in his.  Then I took a deep breath and let go of myself.  I had to be loose for this.  I had to surrender, to let him hold me and look at me and move me.  A few times I tried to pay attention and catch up and do the “right thing” and it just got me all twisted.  For this dance to work at all, I really had to let him lead.

I could have fallen in love with him right there. I don’t know why more men don’t learn to dance.

I was wearing ripped jeans and flip flops, but I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so elegant or so graceful or so captivating.  There was nothing between us but the dance, but oh, what a dance.

It was one of the most intimate moments of my life, looking into his eyes, being held so close, almost letting him carry me.  It was pure and innocent and intense and I’m so grateful for that dance.

It’s a moment that comes back to me in prayer often, that ethereal half hour in the living room.  There’s something so beautiful about that image,about  the surrender involved in that dance.

I picture myself in the arms of Christ, just being held and adored.  I spend my life doing and thinking and achieving, but here it’s enough just to be.  There’s so much of me that wants to know what to do next, how to act, what steps to take, but that just makes me stumble.  The beauty of dancing with a man who knows how to lead is that all I have to do is look into his eyes and trust.

And so in prayer and in life, I’m trying to lean back.  I’m trying to let go of my plans and intentions and desires and to be caught up in his embrace.  There, in his arms, I don’t have to do anything but let myself be loved.  Dancing through life with him, I don’t have to know the song or the steps.  I just have to let go of my obsession with being in control and let him lead.

For years, my relationship with Christ has been a romantic one.  It’s the only way I can understand how consumed he is with love for me, the only way I can learn to live and move and have my being in him.  Maybe this image of being held and loved and danced won’t work for those of you who see him differently–men especially–but, oh, what a gift it is to find him in prayer and to feel the beauty and the power and the intimacy of that living room dance session in his Eucharistic embrace.

More often than not, the song I hear is a setting of St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Surrender:

Take, oh Lord, and receive
All my liberty, my memory,
My understanding, and my will.
All that I am and all that I possess
You have given to me.
And I surrender it all to you.
Form it to your will.
Give me only your love and your grace!
For with these I am rich enough
And desire nothing more

How perfect.


  1. That scar on my arm? I ran into the door. At the library. Just call me Evel Knievel. []

The Worst Choice Isn’t Always the Best

Yesterday, I wrote this.  And then I read this.

I am not going to do that.  Is it bad that I just wrote all about trusting God completely and then drew a line in the sand that I refuse to cross?

But I wanted to be a PRINCESS!!

But I don’t feel guilty about this–not one bit.  Which is pretty good for someone who tends to be a bit (a lot) scrupulous.  I was tempted to feel like a jerk when I first saw the article.  “Oh, man,” I thought, “Now I have to do that.”  With a sigh because gosh this surrender thing is just so hard and why do I have to do all the hardest things?

And then I remembered that I don’t.  In this instance, because it would be absolutely imprudent for a woman to live on the street and rely entirely on the kindness of others.  Sure, God could call me to that.  But I’m open and I’ve prayed and I just don’t think he is.  And I don’t have to feel bad that he’s letting me have a car and a checking account–it’s his plan, not mine.  I don’t have to be the very most appallingly surrendered to Divine Providence to be surrendered.

But there are always people to compare myself to.  How about this one:

Have you heard about this girl?  That’s Katie Davis.  She’s 21.  Those are her 13 daughters.


Seriously, read her entire blog.  I’ll wait.

I ran across her story and thought, “Wow.  What faith.  How beautiful.  DEAR GOD PLEASE PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME DO THAT!!!!”

I know, and yesterday I sounded all surrendered to God’s will, right?

But here’s the thing: God desires your joy.  Not just in heaven (although that’s his top priority), but here on earth, too.  He wants you to love your career and your family and your vocation.  Yeah, you’re going to suffer along the way.  Some of the time it may seem as though all it is is suffering.  But that’s because he’s not willing to trade your eternal joy for temporal comfort.  “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?”  There’s a reason for the suffering–because he wants you to be happy.

We tend to look at the examples of the long-suffering Saints and think that whatever is hardest and least appealing in life is probably what God wants for us.  Just think about how we glorify the martyrs.  “Yeah, he got burned alive.  But that guy had his fingers bitten off!  And that guy was flayed alive!  Ooh, and she’s not a martyr, but she used to rub pepper and lye into her skin to make herself ugly and I bet that really hurt!” We glory in their willingness to suffer for Christ and forget that not everyone is called down the path of bloodiest resistance.

Hacked to pieces AND burned alive? Some guys get all the breaks.

You’ve got to remember, friends, that God loves you–truly, madly, deeply, to borrow the words of Savage Garden.  He’s not planning out a miserable, painful path to heaven.  Really, he’s planning a life that you’ll love.  And he created your heart to desire the things he has for you.

Unfortunately, that desire is often coated in a lot of worthless junk that we’ve piled on ourselves.  Which means that just because you want something doesn’t mean that’s God’s will.  But it does mean that if something sounds terrible and awful and has absolutely no appeal for you because it’s just the worst thing there’s ever been in the history of ever, you can probably leave it alone for a while.  Be open and maybe reconsider down the road but don’t assume that because something sounds terrible it must be what you have to do because Jesus died on the cross and so Christianity must be really, really miserable.

I guess the question you have to ask is does this sound horrible because you’re scared and running away from something or does it sound horrible because it’s just not what you were made for?  You have to get past your attachment to sin and figure out what’s really going on.

I kind of look like this when I run. Only female, soaked with sweat, and mostly dead.

See, to me, running a marathon sounds like torture.  Then death.  Then hell.  Then being reanimated to suffer it all again.  To this guy, it sounds hard (okay, maybe nothing’s hard for him) but not miserable.  On the other hand, if you ask me to spend a week–24-7–with teenagers, I’m psyched.  I know it’ll be exhausting and hard and probably smelly, but it’s a life-giving kind of hard.  And that’s the real difference–does this profession or vocation or promotion or relocation or whatever inspire me?  does it make me want to keep going, even when it’s hard?  Or do I feel defeated and empty just thinking about it?

What I’m saying is don’t assume something’s “the right thing” just because it’s hard.  We aren’t all called to be beggars or run orphanages.  But don’t assume it’s “the wrong thing” because it’s hard, either.  Anything worth doing is hard.  You just have to ask if it’s the kind of hard that makes you want to keep pushing or the kind of hard that makes you want to curl up and die. It’s not that simple all the time, but that’s a good litmus test.

We’re all called to be saints, but we’re not all going to be Saints.  You don’t have to be some kind of miracle-working, leper-washing, hair-shirt-wearing superstar to be pleasing to God.  And sometimes “trusting God” is code for showing off.  If it’s his will, he’ll give you the grace for it, no matter how hard it is.  If it’s not, the easy life you’ve got planned might just go all Jumanji on you.

This is not what I meant by a "board game." Ha. Punny.

So I’m not going to join Andrew in his radical poverty (yet).  But I’m not saying you shouldn’t.  Go ahead and pray on it.  Just remember: unless it’s God’s will, doing something crazy doesn’t make you a saint.  It just makes you crazy.

The Unabandoned Life Is Not Worth Living

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I recently packed everything I own into the trunk of my Mazda3 (okay, my mattress pad is in the back seat), waved goodbye to Kansas after a 2 year exile in the flatlands, and headed out to God knows where.  I left a job and friends and great students to do…well…I’m not exactly sure what.  I know what I’m expecting (speaking and retreats and blogging and whatnot), but all I know for sure is that God asked me to leave and that he’ll take care of the rest.  No home, no job.  For the time being, I’m living out of the car.*

It’s interesting the kind of reactions I get to this.

Non-religious person: “Oh–wow!  That’s really…” stupid? “um…” crazy? “um…great that you’re going to…find yourself.  What a wonderful journey.”  At which point I feel like a flake and a cliché.

This is totally what prayer does to you.

Nominal Christian: “Oh–wow!  That’s amazing!  I could never trust God like that.  You’re really an inspiration.  What a wonderful journey.”  At which point I feel like a fake and a fanatic.

Holy Christian: “Nice.  I’ll pray for you.”  At which point I’m disappointed that they’re not more impressed.  (But relieved that they didn’t use the word journey, which is probably my least favorite word in the English language.  This might be because every episode of The Bachelor–don’t judge me–uses that word at least 35 times.  My sister and I toyed with the idea of a drinking game involving the word “journey” on The Bachelor but decided that even doing it with water might kill us.)

Because this is how you find true love.

This weekend, I got to catch up with a bunch of old friends at Fr. Tom’s ordination and had the humbling experience of repeatedly being asked, “So what are you up to these days?”

It was a real flash back to the last time I had no answer to this question, right after leaving the convent. People kept asking me what I did and I kept having to swallow my pride and tell them I was nannying for my sister’s baby.  For a type A fool like me, that was hard.  Especially when I saw the look in people’s eyes wondering what on earth I thought I was doing shelling out for a Notre Dame degree (or two) and then living on someone’s futon and working for free.

This weekend, it was much the same.  “Well, I just left Kansas…” I’d say.

“Oh, and where are you going now?”

“Well, I don’t exactly know.”


One kind soul said, “Oh, that’s all right.  You’ll figure it out eventually.”

“No!” I couldn’t help responding.  “I had it figured out.  And it was all great.  God just had something better.”

A better woman would have bit her tongue and allowed the world to see her as aimless and flaky.  I’m too proud for that.  So I explain it all.

“You see, I was teaching.  But then I felt that God was calling me to step out on faith and leave that.  He asked me to be homeless and unemployed and I had to trust him.  So I’m going to be traveling and speaking and blogging and writing a book and I think it’s going to be really great.”

Which, of course, is code for “I’m really holy and trust God a lot and by the way you should invite me to come speak at your church/school/ministry.”

And Christians are suitably impressed and non-Christians are suitably disturbed (which is generally how my life goes) and look at me I’m preaching the Gospel and everyone knows how awesome I am!

Here’s the thing, though: there’s nothing impressive about this.

No, really.  That’s not humility (I don’t do humility, more’s the pity).  It’s just fact.  I serve a God who made the mountains and moves them when he wants, a God who made the sea and the storm and then walked on the waves and calmed them, a God who heals lepers and the blind.  My God sent his Son to die for me–why wouldn’t he give me everything I need?  (That’s a little Romans 8:32 for you.)  What’s scary about living out of my car with a credit card and savings and a bunch of couches to crash on when God provides for people who don’t even take a second tunic?

So when I give everything away and quit my job without any particular destination in mind (which has happened twice now), it’s not so much faithful as smart.  You see, somewhere in my 28 years, I figured out that, despite all the impressive things I can put on my resume, I’m actually quite dumb.  In everything that matters, anyway.  I can’t seem to get past myself enough to see what’s best for me.  I spent a good 10 years pining away for a man–any man–before God knocked me over the head to show me something that fits me so much better.  I hated myself for most of college because I couldn’t figure out how to stop being me and start being that quiet, pious girl in the chapel.  It didn’t occur to me that maybe I was actually made to be me, loud and obnoxious and awkward as I am, that perhaps God actually made me that way because he wanted me that way, not so that I had something to overcome.

You see, I can barely even see who I am now and what I want today, let alone who I was made to be and what I’ll need to be that person.  And I’ve fought God and just come out the other side tired and unhappy (and in need of a good confession).   But when I’m abandoned to his will–as much as I’ve ever managed to be–there’s something energizing about that.  Oh, there’s still suffering.  Often there’s more suffering in following God than there is when you turn your back on him.  But there’s meaning to that suffering, and purpose, and healing.

And God starts taking care of all the details and mapping out your life for you, with lovely morning greetings like this:

If only God communicated through greeting cards....

Okay, no, it’s not that easy.  You’ve still got to discern and, usually, make money and pay bills and work hard.  But ultimately, it’s on him.  He’s made you that promise: that he will provide.  Your job is to pray and love and fight for holiness and never, never to worry.

Believe me when I say this isn’t going to make life easy.  Trying to do God’s will–letting go of your own understanding of who you are and surrendering to his truth–is about as hard as it comes.  Obedience isn’t easy; but it’s simple.  It’s a matter of choosing truth, goodness, and beauty, even at the expense of yourself.

I’m not talking here about how to figure out God’s will. That can be widely different for each person and in each situation (although I talked a little bit about my journey (gag) here).  I’m talking about those times when we know what God is calling us to.  Maybe that’s obvious stuff like getting help with your porn problem or getting to Mass on Sunday or carrying on a civil conversation with your stepmother.  Maybe it’s a matter that took some real discernment like entering religious life, leaving a job, or ending an unhealthy relationship.  Maybe it’s something that you’re not sure yet about but it just keeps nagging at you.

I’m sure most of us right now have something that we really know, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we have to do–some change of behavior or major or job or marital status or attitude or diet.  Stepping out like that does take faith.  But I’m telling you that God always comes through.  Always.  That’s just who he is.  It’s not a matter of learning to trust that he’ll give you what you want–God forbid he should give us what we want!  It’s a matter of learning to trust that ultimately–ultimately, not immediately–he’ll bring us to a joy so deep any struggles we may have on the way will pale in comparison.

It doesn’t always seem to make sense.  God told Abraham to leave his family and country–and Abraham went.  Jesus asked a bunch of fishermen to leave their nets and their boats and their father and go change the world.  And they didn’t hem and haw and finish college or build up their savings or wait till the kids were grown first.  Immediately they went, Scripture says.  At once they left it all behind.  Even though they had no idea what he was asking them to do.

But there’s a freedom in that obedience.  The freedom of living in God’s will.  Freedom from regret or doubt or (eventually and God willing) fear.  More importantly, there’s the freedom you give to God to bless you beyond your wildest imaginings.  That might be through opportunities he could only give you when you followed him; it might be through the joy of life lived in grace; if might just be through the growth in holiness that comes from following him.  Whatever it is, he can’t give it to you (yes, I just said God can’t) until you surrender to him.

If you fix your eyes on Jesus, you can walk on water.  So forget your fears and your attachments and your plans and your will and just get off the boat.  Maybe you’ll sink.  If you do, he’ll catch you.  But if you don’t–oh, friend, imagine!


If you’re up for it, I’d love to hear in the comments about what God is calling you to abandon to him.  It’ll help me to pray for you 🙂



*I’m actually writing this from the passenger seat of my sister’s car, sitting in the library parking lot using their wireless as my super-ornery niece finally naps in her car seat.  I tried books and songs and prayers and pajamas in the middle of the day and lunch and that awkward bend-over-her-stroking-her-back-while-singing-praying-to-God-she-finally-falls-asleep-in-her-crib move and putting John Paul down for his nap in the same room and she just alternated between sobbing in her crib or playing happily out of it.  So my sister’s watching John Paul and Cecilia and I are depleting the ozone layer running the engine so we don’t die of heat in this car.  In case you wanted to know the inspiration of this post which started off being about living out of my car but doesn’t really seem to be anymore.