“As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, he begins to fill our lives with surprises.” Oswald Chambers
In the Profession of Faith, Catholics proclaim, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” In a time unknown to us, our life will end and God will judge how we lived on this earth.
Some people believe that with all the present day adversity and suffering the end of the world is near. Jesus sets the record straight. He said, “ But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither angels in heaven, nor the Son of Man, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
It’s easy to become pessimistic or filled with fear regarding the times we live in, yet Jesus implores us to live free of anxiety and worries. Let’s be clear, Jesus does not expect us never to worry, or feel anxious, or fearful. What he wants from us is our complete trust in him. Sometimes that means a knowing, sometimes a feeling, or both. We are called to “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Not only do we anticipate Jesus’ birth, but also we await his Second Coming. It’s that waiting thing we really need to work on in our day to day experiences.
As I was contemplating the readings at the beginning of Advent, God entered right into my awareness one early morning and helped me to better understand his message.
It was one of our recent frosty mornings and I decided to go for a jog at the reservoir close to our home. The path around the reservoir is completely surrounded by woods. The only way in and out is to make a complete loop on the path around the reservoir. On this particular morning my imagination went wild with thoughts that paralleled Nightmare on Elm Street. I worried about someone jumping out of the woods, impeding my path, and doing terrible things. You can only imagine where this was going! The deeper I went into the woods the more intrusive my thoughts became. I was losing the very purpose for my jog, which was to relax, meditate, pray, and simply enjoy this beautiful morning.
As I realized what was happening, I began to talk with God and ask him to remove the fear and worry. I could still remain mindful and alert without completely taking the joy out of this experience. And it was in this simple experience that God helped me to see a bigger picture. How many times do we let the boogieman invade our thoughts, even in the most mundane circumstances?
In a sense, this is what Jesus is warning us against, getting caught up in fears and anxieties. Living life has inherent risks. Living freely and joyfully means abandoning ourselves to God’s will for us. We do that by letting God into our worry and anxieties and trusting that we will be led to where we need to be.
As we navigate the paths of our life we should remain alert and aware to many things: the needs of others, improving relationships, increasing our capacity to love and forgive, and avoiding distractions that pull us away from God. We must keep our eyes on the most important thing, and that is our relationship with God. We are never alone in this journey. God is a prayer away. God is simply present in our smallest needs and our biggest ones as well. When you find yourself fearful, worried or stressed, simply ask God for help. Listen to that quiet voice within. It may sound remarkably similar to your own, that’s how God works, through you.
In this third week of the Advent season, we have a choice. We can get all caught up in the worries of what isn’t finished, what needs to be done, how much time we don’t have, and on and on. Or, we can simply stay alert, continue to prepare, abandon our lives to God, and allow ourselves to be surprised by the amazing gifts that are in store for us.