In his book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning writes about philosopher John Kavanaugh’s search for direction in his life, and what happened when he went to Mother Teresa for advice. He asked her to pray that he would have clarity, and this was her response:
“‘No,’ Mother Teresa answered, ‘I will not do that… Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’
When Kavanaugh said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said:
‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’”
For me, this story challenges my understanding of what it means to trust God. Trusting God is central to our spiritual life, but so often my trust in God looks like nothing more than a vague belief that He will make sure things turn out roughly how I want them to go. I trust God for the right job, the right house, food on the table and good friends.
With this mind-set I remain in full control of my life; I know what I want and what I need and I know that God can provide it for me. I look to Him for clarity because I want to hang on to that control – I want to know the whole plan and I’m not ready to submit to God and say ‘have your way with me’.
I think there are two problems with this kind of thinking. On the surface, I need to simply believe that God knows what’s best for me and His plan for my life is beyond my imagination or control. Often it’s right to ask for clarity for the next step, but our trust cannot be in that clarity, it must remain in God.
But there is a deeper issue here as well. When we view God simply as provider and nothing else, we risk reducing Him to being a means to an end. Our trust in God is strongest and our relationship with Him is most alive when we see Him as the end in itself. Then there is no more striving or stress because we realise we’ve already made it – we get to love and be loved by the Creator of the universe! When we realise this, we can really relax and start to enjoy the wild journey He has us on.
Josh Rous is part of our international 24-7 Prayer team and works to spread the word about 24-7 Prayer and raise support for its vision. Josh is a great proponent of the ukulele, a big fan of Ipswich Town FC and has literally forgotten how to ride a bike