Sometimes I think that most of the population of the world has been completely ruined by our modern, so called “accouterments”. Did you know that many in third world countries have a hard time finding work and/or feeding family but still own a working cell phone? Yikes. We are awash in items of convenience that supposedly serve the purpose of making life easier. Look around, you be the judge! As people who share an interest in faith and growing spiritually we can be bamboozled into thinking that our modern devices have nothing to do with how our spiritual life is proceeding and whether or not we are growing and moving forward. Take a closer look. At times I hear people talk about how God disappeared or deserted them or left after years of regular consolation in their prayer life or never showed up in the first place. Who taught you that? As you grow and develop in your prayer life who taught you that your relationship with God and the way it manifests itself will always be the same?
There is no question that the strong presence of a societal ethic that demands and gets everything right now has had an influence on how we think about and practice our faith life. After all, we reason, I pray daily, go to Mass weekly and even have taken a shift at the Adoration Chapel but God has still deserted me! I bet everyone has known someone who has left the Church or quit going to Mass for a reason that resembles the above thinking. So where do we get the concept of what our relationship with the Father should look like? That could come from our heroes of the faith or believers we admire or pastors we have known or a spiritual director or our own ego. However, when you think about living this (believer’s) life, have you ever taken time and stock to examine how much of the culture is coloring your thinking?
If we check out scripture, the Saints and the history of the Church we quickly see that the life of a believer and our relationship with the Father is anything but consistent and predictable. Like any teacher with great intuition the Father moves the relationship along in a manner that benefits the student in one way or the other. We need to give up all preconceived notions of what it will be like when we have finally “perfected” our relationship with the Father. Even Mother Theresa revealed that after years of tangible consolation from God she spent the final years of her life in what seemed to be utter desolation with the Lord speaking not at all! Father Donald Haggerty, professor of moral theology at the Capuchin Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Ethiopia gives us this observation:
“The Law of divine concealment is inescapable in all deeper prayer. No contact with God in prayer, no spiritual experience or encounter, does not quickly hide him again. He always manages to flee. … Only partial understandings of God’s love are ever given and these are never stable. The experience of God’s hiding can entangle our soul in a morass of useless questioning. …..[W]e may think sometimes that God’s hiding is the most familiar mark of his divine personality.”
n the end it comes down to trust. We all “get” that God is ever present all the time, everywhere. In his personal relationships he offers us the schooling that will do nothing but hone and sharpen our faith, prayer and ability to let go of all the notions of what the world calls normal. God’s hiding is not a bad thing and not a good thing. It’s an opportunity to grow. Maybe we are all a little spoiled because we go into panic mode when things don’t go the way we want them to. So who knows better about the presence of God in your life, you or the Father? He has His ways, you decide!