Gilbert Kerrigan, Senior Minister
There are times (more often than not!) that all I really want is for God to give me clarity. I want to see everything clearly. I want to have certainty about all that I believe. I want to know for sure that what I am doing is absolutely God’s will. Dear God, give me clarity!
Is that faith?
Do words like clarity, clearly, and certainty describe faith? Modernity and the Enlightenment sold us this lie that we can know for sure – we can have certainty, even in matters of faith, but I’m not so sure that is correct. Faith, as the Hebrew writer reminds us, is about things hoped for and unseen. There is little clarity and certainty when it comes to things hoped for and unseen. It is all about trust, which is ultimately what faith is all about. Faith is trust. Not clarity. Not certainty. Trust.
There is a story that is told of a man who was blessed with the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa. When he met her she asked, “And what can I do for you?” He asked that she would pray for him.
“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.
His answer is probably representative of what many of us would ask. He replied, “Pray that I have clarity.”
“No. I will not do that.” she responded.
She quietly, but sincerely responded, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
He was confused. “But you always seem to have clarity,” he responded.
Mother Teresa laughed. “I have never had clarity. What I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
I think that is a great story, and it reminds me a lot of a prayer that Thomas Merton once prayed:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”