A friend said to me recently. “Does it strike you that we often look back and see how God helped us overcome the worst obstacles in our lives? At the time, things seemed impossible. But we emerged and were wiser and stronger for the experience.”
How true! And you know what it comes down to? Learning to trust our Higher Power in the moment – this instant – not at some point in the future!
I have a vivid memory. It’s a summer day. I’m standing high on a mesa in New Mexico, looking out over painted cliffs towards Pedernal, the peak where Georgia O’Keefe’s ashes reside. A storm is approaching, the underside of its dark clouds level with my line of sight. On the horizon, lightning strikes in bright dendrites. A few seconds later, like an aural tsunami, booms of thunder roll over me.
Many of us have this in common. We can look back at extremely difficult times in our lives. We felt stressed, frightened, even desperate. We prayed for God’s help, but dread lingered in our hearts and minds. Friends said trite things like this too shall pass, but we wanted it to be over instantly!
Now we can see how God not only answered our prayers and brought us through those trials, but made us more mature because of them.
Do you see? The presence of God – like a lightning strike – was there in the moment, but it took a while for us to experience the power. I call it the time lag of trust.
Let me share a candid example from my own life.
When I went into treatment for my alcoholism, it was the darkest day of my life. I woke up to meet my new peer group – men who were transferred from prison, or were dumpster-diving the day before. The great leveler of our disease bonded us as one.
During my minimal free time, I would go out to a dirt circle at the back of the facility. It wasn’t a real track, just a path worn smooth by countless men and women working out their anxieties, repeating mantras of recovery, trying desperately to let go and let God.
As I made those circles, I prayed about three potent fears crowding my mind and heart. They spanned my vocation, finances, and dearest relationships. Every day I tried to release them with an attitude of trust. I made minimal progress.
Now, looking back on that valley of the shadow, it’s clear how God was there every second, working out a plan far better than I imagined. The evidence rolls over me in waves of thunderous gratitude.
I have a New Year’s resolution. I resolve to shorten the time lag of trust. I resolve to believe today, not later, that I am in God’s hands. I will welcome the peace this gives to my life as I seek to love and serve.
Will you join me, my friends?