“God isn’t invisible, He’s ignorable. … He’s there everywhere, if you are looking for him. But He also makes himself ignorable, so that if we want to ignore him, we can. We have that choice.” – Jennifer Fulwiler
And yet, while we are freely making this choice, we are also already entangled in the sinful habit of choosing to ignore God – as with the habit of a notorious smoker to continue choosing that cigarette. We need to know to make the right choice, but even more so, we need to be cured from the old habit.
So, what’s needed to obtain this cure?
It may be that one of the most important things needed is – peace.
The gift of peace is likely one of the most unappreciated and underestimated gifts that we receive from God. One might associate it either with an absence of war, or with rest, silence, and impassivity. It doesn’t seem very active; and for a long time I had simply written it off without a second thought.
For this reason, I suspect some level of divine intervention in my recent choice to buy a copy of Fr. Jacques Philippe’s little pink book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace. In it, he makes the bold claim that God cannot speak to us, and we cannot grow in Him, unless we first reside in His peace. (6)
True peace, he writes, is at its very core a complete confidence in God – in His presence, in His unconditional love, in His power to fulfill our needs and desires. It is faith that, in Him, one lacks nothing. By choosing to trust God in this way, we give Him permission to begin opening our eyes and ears to his presence; and it is to the measure in which we have confidence in Him, that we will hear Him. (28)
That said, it is a choice we must make at every moment. Realizing this reveals the spiritual battle that constantly rages, as we make our choice between placing our trust in God, or ignoring God and placing trust in our own strength. And ingrained within our fallen human natures is a resistance to placing this trust in anyone but oneself, which, as Fr Philippe puts, means that “this ‘return to confidence’ is very difficult for us, long and painful.” (27)
Nevertheless, God is the only one that can apply the cure – we cannot earn it, we must only choose it. His peace is His free gift to us. For this reason, Fr Philippe writes, “Above all we must never lose our peace because we can never find or be as much at peace as we would like!” (81) We must allow God to cure us at the pace that He sees fit. We trust that He desires our own healing even more than we do, and we trust that He is able to carry it through.
(Of course, Fr Philippe provides much more wisdom on this topic in his little book. If you feel a nudge, go for it; it’s a bite-sized and liberating read.)
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