Photo: Felix Carroll
Moved to Trust, Without Qualifications
How God Formed Me Into A Disciple By Showing Me His Mercy
By Kellie Ross (Jul 6, 2007)
You can trust me.
I trust you.
In God We Trust.
We have all heard the words before, but how much sincerity do we have in the words we speak? Usually the word "trust" is silently qualified by "as long as you don't ..." or "only if you do ...".
Qualifications. Conditional trust. That's how we interact with each other, and, oftentimes, that's how we interact with God.
I can remember praying when I was in poverty. I was 18 years old, living in San Diego, Calif., and I was making $3.35 per hour making cinnamon rolls. Because of my rent, I had no money for food and always took the leftover cinnamon rolls home for dinner. I had no furniture in the apartment I shared, except for a donated bunk bed for my roommate and me. I was lonely and without hope.
Then I got an idea: I'll play the lottery! Surely if I won the lottery all of my problems would be solved. It was Oct. 5, 1987, my birthday. God surely would look favorably on me and answer my prayer.
So I went into 7-11 and bought $5 worth of tickets. The drawing was that evening. I anxiously waited to hear the numbers being drawn. I went over to a friend's house who had a TV and prayed, "Lord, you know how poor I am. I barely have enough food to eat and am weary. I know that you can do all things. If you help me win the lottery, I promise to turn away from sin and be a better person. Amen."
The results were decisive. No matching numbers. No money. And God had answered my prayer, just not in the way I had hoped.
One week later, I received a letter in the mail from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. The letter read: "We have been looking for you. You have received a scholarship that will cover your room and board and tuition. Please call us immediately." My hands were trembling with excitement. I had borrowed money a few months earlier to apply for financial aid. I had moved from place to place because of poverty. I had thought my dreams of college were gone.
Arriving in Washington, D.C., with $20 in my pocket (donated by a friend), I entered Trinity College. A year and a half later, I graduated with my class. Seven years later, I would get married and have a family. And 10 years later, I would enter the Catholic Church. I had won the lottery! God had provided for all of my needs, even with my imperfect prayer.
As I reflect on my years of poverty, I am struck by two words: disciple and apostle. At that young age, the fact that I even prayed at all indicated that I yearned for guidance from God. But I was inhibited by my lack of trust. Instead of going to visit the Blessed Sacrament, for instance, I went to 7-11. I wanted God to answer my prayers on my terms and in my time frame.
What God gave me instead was infinitely greater: trust and mercy. He formed me into His disciple by allowing me to learn about His mercy. He guided my footsteps so that my ways were level and smooth, so much so that I began to look upward instead of outward for the answer to life's questions.
Discipleship was to teach me obedience.
Apostleship was to move me to serve.
How did I move from one to another? Trust. By believing in the resurrection and trusting in Jesus, I began moving from the belief that I must do all things myself. I moved toward total surrender to God. Total surrender is not a feeling as much as it is an act of will. To consciously give up the right to worry about future events and to place all care in God's hands is the first step to becoming an apostle. If we truly believed God was in charge of all our affairs, what on earth could possibly discourage us?
An example of this can be seen with the 12 apostles. During the ministry of Jesus, they followed, obeyed and were in awe of Jesus' works, and yet even Peter, who claimed Jesus was the Son of the living God, denied him three times. Why? Even though they believed Jesus was the Son of God, they couldn't comprehend that God would sacrifice Himself to be tortured and crucified. It wasn't what they had anticipated, even though He had spoken of His death and resurrection previously.
In essence, they didn't trust.
So what happened after the resurrection that moved them to preach fearlessly with zeal? They witnessed the power of the resurrected Christ and understood fully the mission Christ had planned for them. No longer did they fear death, but welcomed all suffering as a way to enter more deeply into relationship with God. That is the power of trust.
To have trust in God means to have an intimate relationship with our Creator — to be mindful of Him in all we do. Just as intimacy in human relationship differs from spouse to parent, so do the words "I trust you" and "I trust in you."
If I were to tell a friend "I love you," they would most likely feel at peace. But if I were to go to a friend and say, "I am in love with you," the meaning is much deeper. And so it is with Jesus. He is asking us to trust in Him. Not just superficially, but as an intimate friend. The more we trust in Jesus, the more deeply we come to know Him and want to serve Him in our neighbor — alas, works of mercy!
Kellie Ross is director of operations of the House of Mercy, in Manassas, Va., a free clothing store for the homeless and needy. The store can be reached at 1-877-BE-MERCY.