Surrender (October 10, 2012)

…Opening To…

We are as sure to be in trouble as the sparks fly upward, but we will also be “in Christ,” as [Paul] puts it. Ultimately, not even sorrow, loss, death can get at us there. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

I cry out to you, LORD. You are my rock; don’t refuse to hear me. If you won’t talk to me, I’ll be just like those going down to the pit. Listen to my request for mercy when I cry out to you, when I lift up my hands to your holy inner sanctuary. (Psalm 28:1-2; context)

…Filling Up…

Fear of the unknown future is just part of the human condition. We feel anxious about that future because we know we can’t control it, but we haven’t stopped trying to. Today, we are going to talk about stopping.

But before we get there, let me share some wisdom with you from one of my favorite priests. She taught me that God is not in the anxiety that fear of the future produces. God is in everything, yes. God is the foundation of all that exists, yes. But those fearful futures, which we imagine for ourselves, to do not exist. They are nothing more than wispy possibilities that have yet to come to pass. And therefore, they are not of God. God is not there. God is in our present, just as God was in our past, and will be in our futures (the ones that actually happen, not the ones we have nightmares about).

Projecting ourselves into the unknown future is fearful because God isn’t there. So where is God? We are with God in the present, and I think God calls us to do something very special whenever we feel fearful anxiety.

In 12-step programs (like Alcoholics Anonymous), the first step is acknowledging that we are powerless over whatever the emergent problem is (alcoholism in AA). The second step is relying on a power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity. I think God calls us to these two steps whenever we fall into anxiety over the unknown future.

Combining these two steps into one brings us to that very special something God invites us to do. And that is to surrender to God. When we project ourselves into the unknown future, we are fearful because God isn’t there. Our need to control asserts itself, which is always a fool’s errand. Thus we feel anxiety. But remember: anxiety happens when we realize we don’t control the future but haven’t stopped trying.

The answer is, of course, to stop trying. To surrender. And to trust in God. More on that tomorrow.

…Praying For…

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen. (The Serenity Prayer, with a minor addition)

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, thankful that you are always and forever inviting me to walk the paths of trust and hope.

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