I held my tongue as I listened. It seemed like ages that I waited and then…. nothing came. I stared longer over the cliff, and down at the ocean waves, across the deep, dark, ever-stretching expanse of water. An expanse that has always intrigued me since the first day I dipped my toes into it….Since the first time I walked beside it under the moonlight, listening to the waves and thinking about the God who made them.
But here I am 20 years later sitting above the same expanse wondering why the God who made it in all of its enormity couldn’t give me, His beloved daughter, the direction and answers that I feel like I need in one of the most pivotal seasons of my life. If He cares why doesn’t He give me clear direction and certainty? I continued to pray and alternate my words with silence, listening to the waves and praying for a “sign”. Preferably in the form of big flashing lights telling me exactly the direction I need to take. None came. And eventually after all of my talking I began to assume I was speaking to silence and nothing more. Why pray if He isn’t going to answer? I’ve heard people say my whole life, “just ask God for clarity”. As if the “just” belongs in that sentence and it is all “just” that easy. As if I can ask Him and then in a split second He whispers in my ear the exact steps to take.
As my prayers turned to doubt I finally felt like I heard Him whisper something to me. “Trust me.” That’s it. “Trust”?… What does that even mean?
…After a few moments sitting and pondering that word I remembered a story I had read years before in the book Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning that challenged my perspective of God immensely. Instead of attempting to paraphrase, here is the exact excerpt that I was reminded of in that moment.
“When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life.
On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
TRUST. That is God’s answer. And in that moment I realized just how beautiful and perfect that answer is. I realized exactly why He hadn’t given me the clarity I had so desired. Because of His enormous love for me and because it is the last thing I actually needed in that moment. Every deep, intimate relationship is rooted in Trust. Of course Love is at the core of the relationship but without trust you can’t have love. I realized God is about relationship. He is about love ultimately. He wants to go on the journey WITH me.
In that moment a weight lifted. And I felt so much freedom because I didn’t feel the weight of having to “make the right decision” anymore. It made me realize God is all about the process exactly because that is the part that draws me closer to Him. And for the first time I was able to exhale and learn to simply enjoy the process and the experience of real life giving trust. I realized that clarity will come eventually but not without first walking the path of trust. Furthermore I realized that God doesn’t require that I always have perfect trust or perfect faith. All He asks is that I simply be faithful. And it is in that revelation that I have gained freedom. Freedom to love and live fully. Freedom in making trust the aim and enjoying the beautiful and sometimes even painful process it takes to get there.