Better, these last two days.
St Therese of Liseux speaks of CONFIDENCE in God. Confidence flows from trust. It has been mightily encouraging to me to examine doubt as a concept, as an essential component, some writers say, of the Christian faith. It is marvelous to think that. For what, after all, is faith, if it is never tested? What is faith if it does not involve some arduous wrestling? If belief was something one slid effortlessly into, well then, there would be no narrow gate – there would be only the broad, easy road.
That may be a bit of convoluted reasoning (using imagery from Jesus’s words to bolster belief in Christianity itself – after all Jesus’ words are authoritative only IF Christianity is true. Thus the conclusion is being used to establish a premise, or something like that). Still.
Confidence comes naturally to me in the natural world. I am by nature a confident person – only in matters spiritual do I flounder and sink, and flounder some more. Yet I know that all of the words of the Bible are nothing if they do not inspire confidence in God.
I am experiencing, right along with the dreadful uncertainty, a strange confidence. One reason is a picture that came to me. My misery is caused by the sensation, sometimes, that I am cut off from the joys and truths the Bible offers. I read, I comprehend the meaning, but the words do not ignite me. This morning, I saw it as a picture. It is as if above me there is a shifting sheet of grey cardboard, studded with small holes perhaps two centimentres in diameter. Above that piece of cardboard, is another one, the one on God’s side. It too has small holes in it. The two sheets of cardboard slide over one another, in constant motion. I sit under them both, praying, reading my Bible. Most of the time, no light of Heaven reaches me. But every now and then, a hole in one sheet of cardboard aligns with a hole in the other – and a glimpse of heaven is felt. Clarity and a tiny taste of certainly and joy enter me. Then perhaps the two cardboards move again, and certainty is gone. But I had the experience, I know it is there. And that makes all the difference. Plus, I realised today, that there is really nothing I can do to make that revelation come. It is not up to me. I am already doing all I can – placing myself in the position where hearing, sensing, knowing, might be possible – just by praying, reading my Bible, and endeavouring to practise a life of love. So what more can I do? It really is God’s decision whether or not to reveal Himself further to me.
I even had the thought today – so what if I never feel joy again? Just knowing that the truth is out there – that it is not up to me to grasp it, but for it to be revealed to me – relieves me!
Thomas Merton wrote of saints who lived most of their lives in a sort of joyless way – never really experiencing the fire of God. Yet they were surely loved, surely entered the gates of heaven, for they lived lives that bore fruit, and they remained faithful to Jesus… Knowing that I cannot produce or demand joy, (and joy, to me, is another word for certainty) – that gives me a strange hope and confidence. It is not up to me. It is up to God!