Trust in You

Trust is not something that I’m very good at.  I like to be in control, feeling that I can manage the outcome to my liking.  But, of course, I can’t always do that.  Some things are out of my hands – almost everything is out of my hands.

When I first became a Christian, I was actually glad that I didn’t control everything.  It was a relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for everything that happened in my life and the lives of my loved ones.  I can’t say that it was a relief to know that everything is in God’s hands – that actually scared me quite a bit.  But, if anyone is going to be in control, it should surely be the Creator and Master of the Universe – the One who knows best.

During my recent health odyssey, my problem with trust was made clear again.  I prayed for recovery, for the end of new illnesses – but I also worried every time a new illness appeared.  Legitimate concern is not a bad thing at all, for I do need to think about my body and make good decisions on taking care of it.  But, worry – well, there is no room (and really no need) for worry in the life of a person of faith.  And I worried a lot.

Sometimes, a song, poem, book, movie, or TV show can challenge our faith and inspire us to a better and closer relationship with God.  I discovered the song below during my health odyssey (which is not quite over yet) and it cut to my heart.  It is a challenge for me in my struggles – and a good inspiration to trust…

“Jesus, I Trust in You…”

© 2017 Christina Chase

Our Daily Bread

It’s strange how you can come to care about the people whose blogs you read regularly, or even occasionally.  I find that I want to know about the major ups and downs in their lives, their fears and their joys.  Because of this, I’m stepping out to share with you, my readers, an impending event in my life.  Well, it is more directly an event in my father’s life, but, because I am dependent on others for my survival and it is my father and my mother who give me daily care, the event has impact on me.  (I wrote about this somewhat for the other surgery, see it here.)

My dad is going to have surgery again.  Nothing emergent or life-threatening this time, no worries, this is elective.  The hip replacement he’s been waiting for.  Of course, being a worrier (no, not “warrior”, you silly dictation system, definitely not a warrior) by nature, I do worry a little, especially given his septuple coronary bypass three months ago.  I pray that God will protect him once again and guide the doctors and all who will be taking care of him before, during, and after the operation.  His cardiologist from CMC cleared him and Dr. Fox from Concord Orthopedics is supposed to be great, so I leave it in God’s hands.   That is, I will try my very best not to worry, but to have faith that God’s Holy and Perfect Will shall be done.   What that will is, nobody can truly know.  But, I do believe that what ever will happen will be according to God’s positive plan for all of our ultimate goodness and joy.  That’s our faith as believers.

And I have so much for which to be thankful.

As I tried to keep in mind during the previous operation, God is good.

All the time.

God is good.

Jesus invites us to pray for one another and, so, prayers are welcome! (And prayers for my mom, too, who, again, is stuck with the literally heavy lifting.) Thank you!

© 2016 Christina Chase

God Is Good

My father had open heart surgery this past Monday because of blocked coronary arteries.  He had a septuple bypass – I didn’t even know one could have that many!  We were all very surprised that he needed this and also very grateful that he had never had a heart attack.  He works so hard and with his circulatory system the way it was… I believe that God was definitely watching over him.  The surgeons were very confident that he would get through the surgery well and that it would be successful because he is in good shape, not overweight, doesn’t drink and doesn’t smoke.  Still… It was major surgery and we know that things can happen…

Thankfully, he did get through the surgery well and, so far, he is recovering successfully.  Someone told me that there are so many people praying for a good result for him that God wouldn’t dare to disappoint them.  But, I don’t think it really works that way.  First of all, God is pretty daring.  Second of all, God’s will is God’s will.  We know that God hears all prayers and answers all of the prayers of the faithful.  What that answer is, however, is hidden in the mind of God until it is revealed.  And it isn’t always the answer that had been sought.

God’s answer to our prayers may be “Yes, that is what I will and you shall receive it for it is for your good.”  Or, God’s answer to our prayers may be “No, that is not what is best for you, but I will lovingly give you what is for your good.”  And sometimes that thing that is for our good doesn’t seem very good at first.  Maybe it never does in this life.  But, ultimately, when we see the big picture, when we look through the loving eyes of God with the Beatific Vision, we will understand and see the good.  For God works in mysterious ways, ways that are far above our own ways.

I have faith that God will protect and keep my father safe always.  But, I do not want to pretend to know the mind of God.   No human does.   I am grateful for every day and for every hour of every day and I know that God is good.  I know that, in order to be a true believer, in order to be someone who truly loves God and, so, someone who is who she is created to be, then I must trust God.   When one reads the stories of the Saints and knows that there can be blessings in sufferings,  it is a very scary thing to trust God!  Yet, this is what I am called to do.  For the past week, this is what I have been trying to do.   Only God knows how well or how poorly I have been doing it.   Thankfully, God is merciful!

My family doesn’t deserve any better blessings than any other family on earth.   God loves everybody,  God desires the best, the true good, and the truest joy, for everybody.   My father will receive nothing more and nothing less.   This is what I believe.   It is only up to us to await God’s will, to be ready to receive the answer that God will reveal.   I don’t see how I could ever be truly prepared for tragedy,  for the sudden or early death of one of my loved ones.   But, this kind of thing happens to people all of the time – and they are no less loved by God,  no less blessed.   I think the truest blessing lies in understanding that God is good.   Through the easier and more pleasant times as well as through the rougher and more sorrowful times, God is good.

All the time.

God is good.

God knows my plea, God knows the deepest desire of my heart.   I put my loved ones into his hands, begging for mercy, begging that I will not be put to the test.   And then I thank God for what ever God wills.   For, whatever God wills,  God is good.

This is my faith. I don’t always live it well, not at all.  One thing that  I have learned  so far from this experience is to remember that God loves me  and created me for a very special and specific purpose.   I cannot let myself get sidetracked from that purpose.  My father gives so much of himself to take care of me and I want to make him proud.  And I want to make God, my heavenly Father,  proud.   I am a writer.   Please, God,  help me, in my relationship with my dad, so that, living and loving with him, I may be the best writer that I can be.  And thank you for his health so far –  please continue to watch over him and to bless him with recovery, good health, and strength.

Amen.

© 2015 Christina Chase

A Stranger Appears in the Making of the Bread

Mary Series: Part 1

Picture it. Nazareth. 1 BC (or maybe a few years earlier.) Alone in the simple home where she lives with her parents, a young peasant woman kneels upon the earthen floor making bread dough in a wooden bowl, completely unaware of the extraordinary conversation that she’s about to have.[i] As the ingredients come together and form in her hands, she hums a song of thanksgiving and praise. Briefly, never losing focus on her task, she thinks of the day in the future when she will be making bread in Joseph’s home. For she is betrothed to a kind and hard-working carpenter, a widower with several children of whom the young virgin looks forward to taking care.

Yes, this woman is Mary, who will be the mother of Jesus – but she isn’t yet. Right now, she is a prayerful and thoughtful girl, a good daughter and neighbor and practitioner of Judaism. She speaks Aramaic and understands Hebrew, has been taught the Sacred Scriptures and the fine skills of nurturing and caring for a family and a community. She is intelligent and considerate, never overthinking with needless worry, nor deeming any detail or any person as insignificant.

Mary begins to knead the dough, firmly but gently, when, suddenly, she is interrupted in the making of bread by the appearance of a strange visitor standing before her. Bearing peculiar salutations of mysterious portent, the stranger is illuminated all through as though by secret sunlight. Mary, bathed in the radiant glow, remains kneeling on the ground, transfixed.

Now, this stranger isn’t entirely strange to Mary. She has an unadulterated communion with the spiritual that was divinely given to her, and safeguarded in her, since her conception. She recognizes this being before her as an angel, a supernatural creature charged with bearing divine message. She knows, then, that the words spoken by this angel express the very mind of God. And this angel is hailing her, telling her that the Lord is with her, and calling her “Most Favored One” or “Full of Grace”.

Imagine being saluted by one of God’s heavenly hosts. Imagine hearing, unmistakably, imagine knowing, that you are specially gifted and favored by God. This is what is happening to Mary, but it doesn’t cause her to be puffed up with pride. Innocent as the day she was conceived, she is trying to figure out what it means and is troubled with the wonder. In full knowledge of her lowliness as a creature before the Uncreated Creator, she is humbled, disturbed in her heart by this greeting of honor.

Human beings are naturally afraid of the unknown – and Mary is human. Although she is divinely blessed by unique, supernatural grace, her intellect, imagination, and will are limited – just as with every human being. Born of working-class parents, she is the least worldly person of whom you can think, but she is rich with inherent wisdom – and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. The human mind cannot comprehend or fathom the Mysteries of God. The visiting angel knows this and sees Mary’s reaction. She is told not to be afraid. Believing that this is God’s message for her, the young woman listens and trusts. And her natural concern is quieted.

Now, the messenger of God says to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary is innocent, but she’s not naïve, and she’s no dummy. She knows how babies get made. And she also knows that, though betrothed, she is, as yet, unmarried, still a virgin, and has absolutely no plans of sexual intercourse anytime soon. So, she naturally wonders how she is going to become pregnant. It isn’t that Mary doubts the angel’s word, nor even the possibility of her becoming pregnant. But, she doesn’t know by what process the pregnancy will occur. Did the angel come suddenly to tell her of something that will happen later, in the future? Will Joseph, then, be the father of the child? Or will her pregnancy occur in a more dramatic, or even mysteriously miraculous, way? The words which with the angel described this child that she is to conceive and bear – “called the Son of the Most High… and of his kingdom there will be no end” – sound messianic to the young woman’s ears. Such a child would, it seem, deserve a miraculous beginning. But… How? What will be involved? If Mary was troubled before by the angel’s greeting, she is now sincerely, deeply, very curious. It is because of the young woman’s faith in the Divine Word and Order that she seeks, with the wonderful sparklings of the human mind, to peer into the workings of the universe, both within and beyond.

And so, at this moment, Mary, her dark, bright eyes looking up to the figure of light, opens her mouth to speak. In speaking, she knows that she will be communicating with God Godself through this divinely appointed messenger. She knows this and doesn’t hesitate to show her humble ignorance in asking her question to the Mighty One. She, like any true scientist that ever lived or ever will live, simply wants to know how something works.

Mary says to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?”

The angel, who is called Gabriel, has heard this kind of question before, just six months earlier, in fact, in human time. But that question, asked by Zechariah, concerning the angelic announcement of his wife Elizabeth’s forthcoming pregnancy, was not an honest question, was not an innocent desire for an understanding of the truth. And Gabriel had justly punished the man for his sarcastic response to God’s message, for his doubt in the power of God in the face of earthly limitations. Zechariah had been struck mute, unable to speak a further word until the prophecy delivered by Gabriel had been fulfilled. Mary, who is now asking the angel how God’s will for her pregnancy shall be accomplished, is honest and innocent and just in her asking. Her question is real, born from the virtue of her human curiosity, and Gabriel receives the question graciously. The young woman shall not be punished, but, rather, rewarded with an answer from God.

The answer that will be given will seem to only raise more questions. However, instead, from her heart, Mary will raise forth the most perfectly human response to God of all time.

*          *          *

            Prayer: Almighty and all powerful God, I am but a lowly creature before Thee. May I trust in Thee and not be afraid. I pray that I, like Mary, daughter of Anna and Joachim, may be pure and open to Thy Divine Will for me. In my lack of understanding, may I have faith. In my desire for understanding, may I earnestly seek… and find Thee. Amen.

Hail, Mary, Full of Grace, pray for all seekers of truth who seek to peer into the workings of the universe, both within and beyond.

Christina Chase

 

[i] I am no expert on the customs of the area at this time. And my narrative does not aim for historical accuracy as its most important goal – rather, I aim to take the history written in the Bible and use my flawed imagination and intellect to bring it more fully to life in my heart. I am also aware that some of the details I am imagining are less than congruent with an early account of young Mary’s life, The Protoevangelium of James, which I have only read in fractions, but which I believe is a rich and fruitful account. Read it here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm

When in Doubt

Doubt shouldn’t be feared, because it’s not in  opposition to faith – doubt is actually part of faith.  If we have faith with no moments of confusion or doubt, then we don’t really have faith  – we have concrete certainty or, perhaps better explained, a lump of  concrete.  If God had wanted to, He could have made His teachings blatantly  obvious, could send down unmistakable, in-your-face saviors every  generation, a voice booming over the whole globe, a neon sign in the  heavens – but God wants us to have faith.  God wants us to trust, not  with absolute logical certainty, but with love.  Not just to believe  that God exists, but to believe in God.  There is something  exquisitely beautiful, powerful and vital in a leap of faith – and  doubts give us the chance to take the leap over and over again.