This might seem like a tricky question, because it looks so open-ended. Yet I am quite sure that God wants us to trust Him; and this is the first and only thing He wants from us. Everything else follows quite naturally if we only render to God this one true inner action.
For some reason, which is not clear to me inwardly, I am a distrustful creature, despite the fact that God has seen fit to bless me with His presence on an almost continuous basis. There is never a day that He is not present within me in one way or another; and in fact one would have to say that I am shamed by it, because still I don’t trust Him, and still I disobey.
Despite this, Grace flows abundantly throughout me; and this isn’t a Grace that does anything more than bring me to an organic sense of how extraordinary God’s Love is and how wonderful He is and how truly miraculous and perfect every single instant of His creation is.
Yet I don’t trust Him. And if Grace can flow this abundantly and trust is still not present, then the question of trust must fundamentally define the chasm that lies between us and God’s Love.
Another friend of mine said that God wants contrition, humility, chastity, and so on from us… and I think this is perhaps true.
Yet these conditions would be natural and reflexive if I trusted. They might not even be necessary; because within Grace, contrition, humility, and chastity cease to be meaningful. Each one of these is a condition that needs to be imposed because of my lack of trust. Once I trust, God is ever present; and the only thing that I quite definitely feel when God is present is the sorrow of his everlasting Love, which is both perfect and joyful and anguishing and lies beyond all human understanding — yet it lights up the soul with a gentle and brilliant fire that in one instant can sense and see and feel all the truth in the world.
Each one of us already lives in eternity. The amount of Grace that has been invested in a single life, even that of a bacteria, is already beyond any measurement; this is what Christ was trying to explain when He spoke of the lilies of the field. One moment of human life with all that flows through it is already more glorious than that; and each one of us has been vouchsafed that experience—which we casually discard as though it were unimportant.
We fundamentally misunderstand what God is and what the Kingdom of Heaven is. We do have the Kingdom of Heaven within us; and it might be said that God wants nothing “from” us. He does not want anything from us, but rather, He wishes to give to us. He would willingly give us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven at any time, because what He wishes for is to immerse us in His Love so that we can share His Being. Within this lies greater glory in any moment than what mankind can create with whole civilizations.
But, strangely, we don’t seem to want His Love… we love ourselves too much. And it is excruciatingly unclear to us how different His Love is from our own.
I am pressed to understand all of what we do from this question of trust. What of the exercises? What of all the “efforts” and the earnestness, the false sincerity—and of course its real counterpart, just as much of us—the maneuvering and positioning, our confident misunderstanding?
What good does any of this do if we do not first trust?
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.