In our consumer culture, we’re used to investigating products before we purchase them. We want our satisfaction guaranteed before we commit to spending the money. Makes perfect sense from a market standpoint. It is safe and healthy to be a bit critical (and very healthy to practice daily discernment), but this structure of trying to guarantee satisfaction first and then giving our commitment later does not fit our life with God.
When we are faced with a new experience, a new call from God, or something outside of our comfort zone, we often demand assurance of satisfaction before we fully invest.
Yet Psalm 34:9 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” When we allow ourselves to experience the Lord, when we ‘taste’ Him, then we will “see,” our eyes will be enlightened of the Lord’s goodness. Perhaps I have read too much into the structure of the verse, yet it serves as a good illustration. So often we want to see and then taste. So often we want to examine first and then be open to the experience, to say it another way.
The verse came to mind as I was thinking about this phenomena of “see and then taste” in Sunday mass yesterday. The second reading really caught my heart during mass. To me it seems a powerful reading for our times – I don’t think I’m alone in needing to hear the words: Have no anxiety at all. For a refresher:
Reading 2 PHIL 4:6-9
“Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Have no anxiety at all! When life asks something of us, when there is a task at hand or something we are being called to commit to or complete, we can be drawn into a negative mood that breeds excuses, criticisms or reluctance. Why? We don’t trust that we’ll gain something from it at the end, that the task will be pleasant or beneficial. We demand a “satisfaction guarantee” ahead of time, we demand to “see results” before we taste the actual experience of the task. And what is all that about?
It’s a type of anxiety. We are anxious about the outcome. Or maybe we’re anxious about our ability to fulfill the task. Or maybe we are anxious about moving outside our comfort zone, anxious about looking silly or falling short.
Brothers and sisters: have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God!
It is good as I said before to be discerning our responses to God’s calls and to our daily tasks. But we should be aware of letting anxiety rob of us the experience that God is attempting to gift us! Because that is what happens – our own reservations and the limits that we impose on a situation limit our actual ability to experience the reality at hand.
What is the remedy? How do we open our hearts to experiencing God so that we may understand and know Him? Trust! When we place our trust in God, our childlike trust is the antidote to this anxiety, the more we learn to follow God with trust and to read Him moving in our lives, the more we are open to tasting the reality around us. Then we “see,” we understand the deep goodness of God, the deep goodness He is trying gift us through that task and that moment.
When we trust God and learn to move through daily life in this way, inner anxiety melts before the peace of Christ. With this faith, we can know and believe and experience what scripture teaches us, that truly. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28). Christ knows after all, how difficult this is. How often did He approach his disciples by saying first, “Peace be with you!” That is always Christ’s invitation for us. Be at peace, trust – and receive the goodness of God. Let us not demand from God a “satisfaction guarantee,” but seek to grow in trust and faith in Him, that we may receive all the goodness that He desires to gift to us!
I’ll leave with one of my favorite prayers – I pray it all the time! This prayer, directed to the Blessed Mother and her intercession, helps me grow in trust and faith:
Prayer of Childlike Confidence
I trust your might, your kindness, Mother dear
I do believe that you are always near.
Whatever happens, Mother mild,
I blindly trust in you and in your child.
By: Fr J Kentenich, Founder of the Schoenstatt Movement