God is love. Sure, it is comforting to know that God loves us, but it is a challenge to really believe that God loves the non-believer, the person who may have hurt you intentionally, or worse, simply ignored you out of complete indifference. But God is love, and God loves everyone including our enemies, people of different faiths or no faith at all.
It is very easy for one to say that one loves their neighbor as in Matthew 5: 43-48. Often, that “neighbor” is an abstract concept/person, not your co-worker, fellow commuter or relative. God continually invites all of us into a loving and committed relationship with Him. It is not enough to merely accept His invitation and then move on. To really know and love God our Father, one must become a true follower of Jesus, and not just an admirer of Him. One must enter into a deeply intimate relationship with God based on complete trust, love and receptivity.
At first, this was downright terrifying that in order to enter deeply into a real relationship with God, I must reveal my inner thoughts and weaknesses to God. Do I even know my inner thoughts and weaknesses? Would both God and I be horrified as to what was unearthed? What if God rescinds His invitation to me to be His disciple? And if that is not bad enough, what if I discovered the same displeasing traits in me and the same people I struggle to accept?
I continuously asked myself, “Why should I delve into my most inner thoughts?” I read and re-read Psalm 139, which tells of the all-knowing and ever-present God. A God who loves us sinners unconditionally. I reasoned that I am basically a good enough person. I try to live a good Catholic Christian live by attending Mass regularly, going to Reconciliation and volunteering to serve Christ through faith based ministries. I have complete trust in God, and know that He will lead me in ways I never thought possible, but…why do I have to really reveal myself to God? If anything, this delving into the inner compartments of my heart and soul may bring out turmoil and unrest!
Through prayer, I realize that my reasoning was out of fear and rejection that God truly can’t love me if I came “clean” with Him. Better to let things stay unsaid, like the proverbial pink elephant in the room. I began to realize, through, prayer, this unfounded fear was proving to be a barrier in my developing an even deeper, more loving relationship with God. I continued to pray for a deeper understanding of God’s love.
By constantly praying and talking with God in the most ordinary ways, I am discovering a real awareness of how extraordinarily God reveals Himself in the ordinary, mundane ways of everyday living.
Recently, I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, and frantic that I would be late again for another appointment. I happened to notice a license plate directly in front of my stopped car. This license plate was not one of those catchy vanity license plates, but rather an ordinary one which simply said P86 followed by some letters. Immediately, Psalm 86 came to mind. I never read Psalm 86, but knew upon coming home, I needed to read this particular psalm. Despite the busyness of my home life, I found a few minutes to open the Bible and read Psalm 86 which talks of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Faith is always a leap into the unknown and a challenge to go beyond one’s comfort zone. Through the discipline of prayer, study and reflection, I am coming to realize that God truly dwells deep inside the crevices of our hearts and souls, and works within our brokenness to bring healing and peace, not judgment and criticism. God is pure love. An inner peace is emerging, albeit slowly, within me which is allowing me the courage to forge ahead into a more deeper and committed relationship with God.
Prayer changes us and our lives. Prayers won’t necessarily solve all of our problems, but it floods our souls with a peace that only Jesus can bring. It carries us onwards in our faith journey.
Anything is possible with God’s love, but it begins with each one of us fully accepting God’s invitation, and truly knowing that God loves not only us, but everyone of us. We must live in the present and let go of our pasts. Yes, there is something that we can learn from our past, but it is today that matters most because it will bring us to our better tomorrow.
It is my prayer that we know the Spirit of God that drove Jesus into the desert is the same Spirit that drives us into the desert of our hearts…a silent place where God speaks to us of hope, encouragement and healing.
May God continue to bestow His abundant blessings on each and every one of us during this Lenten season.