Taking God at His Word

By Karen Mannino                                                                               Monday, Feb 10th, 2014

I have sat through only one football game in my life, (it was a high school game, and I can’t even tell you who won) but I’d just like to say that I am proud of the team that represented my home state at the game, even though they were really representing the wrong side of the mountains. Didn’t see it, but I hear it was a good game.

I also hear that the adds were pretty good. When I became aware of the strange super-bowl phenomenon in which people watch the game so that they will see the adds, I thought that was about the strangest, and dumbest thing I’d ever heard. It’s one of those things that makes sense in America, but probably not many other places.

Advertisements really are a big deal in our culture. Most of the time we find them mildly annoying. At best they are entertaining and memorable. They tend to appeal to our emotions, rather than reason, and they are all designed to teach us what we ought to desire. By the visual presentation of an advertisement, we decide wether we are going to trust the company behind the add or not. A relationship of trust is built between customer and company. We even become loyal to a point where we will buy a product without questioning it’s value because we trust the company to make good products.

As Christians we are called to conform our wills (what we desire) to Gods will. How do we build a relationship of trust with God, since he doesn’t advertise on tv? Often I find myself assenting intellectually to the proposition that God is the source of all goodness, and therefore his will is inherently good. But when it comes to the point, when I am faced with the choice between my will and God’s, I struggle because my way looks better to me. I want what I want, and God interfering is an inconvenience. I think of God, not as someone I have a relationship with, but as a distant orchestrator, requesting cooperations from all his little pawns on earth, arranging them for a higher purpose. Human history offers me very few examples of powerful people who were able serve the common good and have it turn out happily for everyone individually too. I think I’m just supposed to be okay with giving up the easy, clear path to my happiness and my desires. It is a sense of obligation rather than trust in God’s intimate knowledge of what is good and what infinite love for me.

When we look to the lives of the Saints I find that they always suffer, in one way or another. There is no promise of comfort in this bargain. If I will suffer, how do I know it is worth it? We literally have to take God word for it. Sometimes an intellectual assent is the only thing I will have to go on. That will have to be enough. It’s strange, now that I am thinking about it, that intellectual assent is the easiest to give. If I have good reason, the rest should be easy. I know that I am pathetically flawed and that I often want things that are objectively bad for me. It makes sense for me to conform my desires to a higher authority that loves me and knows me perfectly. But reason is no match for my emotional attachment to doing things my way. My intellect may be twenty-something, but my ego is a three year old throwing a temper tantrum.

Luckily, when I say we have to “take God’s word for it”, I mean that quite literally. To conform my will to God’s takes divine intervention. God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us. His personal guarantee was himself nailed to a cross. Furthermore, every Sunday I “take His Word” into my body when I receive the Eucharist. This mystery is the divine intervention; that shot of grace that allows my reason to properly guide the tantruming toddler that is my will. Slowly, as I release my death grip on my life, my desire will become focused on loving and being loved by God.

Karen Mannino works retail in down town Spokane, WA. She  doesn’t read on the bus anymore, because her kindle is broken. But the other people on the bus are very interesting, so that’s okay.

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