The Mechanics of Trusting God--Part I--Start By Listening
Trusting God must be one of the great hurdles many people have in progressing in holiness. This makes a certain sense. If you cannot believe what you see around you each day, how do you learn to believe what you cannot see. This isn't about faith, most people reading this blog already have faith, some in abundance. It is about trust.
In a sense, trusting God must become like trusting chemical bonds. Most people don't give a moment's thought to the fact that we are held together (literally) by the most tenuous connections between particles far too small to see. We trust electrons, ionic bonds, van der Waal's bonds, covalent bonds, all manner of other chemical theories to hold our bodies and our world together. We trust reality.
We need to learn to trust God in the same way. After all, it is His constant attention and love that make possible all that we see and are. He supports each of those chemical bonds by His omnipresent attention. Without it, there would be nothing that exists.
How do we learn to trust? One way is to trust our experiences. God speaks to us every day. He speaks to us in the events of the day. We often do not listen. We do not train ourselves to hear the message of everyday; we take it for granted. But a careful perusal of past events would show us clear examples of places along the path where God has walked closely with us and supported us.
Here I suggest another useful technique garnered from the Ignatian Long Retreat--examen. In this particular form of the examen, you are not looking for places where you have failed in the course of the day. Rather, you are looking for places where God spoke to you. You are training yourself to become aware of the opportunities God makes for you each day. By examining the events of the day and recognizing where God was present, you become more sensitive to His presence.
Many people, myself included, go through daily life under the influence of spiritual novacaine. We're aware that the spirit is present, but we don't really sense anything other than the ringing, tingling, numbness that marks our own absence. We need to turn our attention to that void and become aware that it is not a void, but it is the door to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said repeatedly, "The Kingdom of God is at hand." By this, I don't think He meant, it is coming soon. I interpret what He said to mean that it is nearby, it is close. It is so close that we are completely unaware of its proximity. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us, and we need merely open the door and walk through. But we cannot open a door we do not recognize as a door, and we cannot walk through a portal until the door is opened. It is up to us to open it. God can hammer down the door and barge through--but it is unlikely that He will do so. So we need to exert ourselves to be aware of the presence of God in our lives and to become aware of His kingdom within. Only in such a way of complete submission will we find peace, love, and the crucial ability to trust.