At a job interview last month, one of the committee asked me for one-word answers to two final questions. What can you offer us, he asked. The other question was, “What can we offer you?” I don’t know what put it into my mind, but I said, “Trust.”
Why would I say that?
When I was reviewing some material on the Spiritual Exercises earlier today, I ran across some suggested Scripture passages for the theme of trust. Trust in God, of course. What do you make of the Israelites blanching at the prospect of invading Palestine, and God’s response:
Have no dread or fear of them.
The Lord your God, who goes before you,
is the one who will fight for you,
just as he did for you in Egypt
before your very eyes,
and in the wilderness,
where you saw how the Lord your God carried you,
just as one carries a child,
all the way that you travelled
until you reached this place. (Deut 1:29b-31)
It seems difficult enough to trust someone we can see, touch, and love. Even after twenty years of marriage, I still find myself looking over my shoulder on one or two small points now and then. I’m sure the young miss thinks the same way of her parents. How can we put our trust in an unseen God?
Consider also “this place” at which the Israelites have arrived: the doorstep of an already-occupied country. Why couldn’t the Promised Land have been empty and ready for settlement?
Often when we turn to God, we find ourselves in an untenable place: perched on the edge of death or disaster. God carried us all this way just to be dropped on our bottoms in the middle of trouble? Any hands for “No thanks!”?
Trust involves remembering. Can we conduct a remembrance of the good times? Are we in the habit of conducting a Daily Examen, especially mindful of that second step? After the stillness, the quieting down, it is time to be thankful. My suspicion is that Saint Ignatius has a carefully constructed activity in the everyday examination of one’s life. Quiet down from the clamor of life. Chill in the face of fear and dread.
When crisis hits, that would likely not be the optimal time to begin a practice of gratitude. In fact, a spiritual neophyte may well slap anyone talking such nonsense.
The key seems to be the cultivation of stillness, gratitude, and internal honesty. When we have taken the time with that–and it might take forty years–then I think the believer is more prepared to trust. To see how God has carried us, has gone to battle for us, and will do so again.