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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Surrender

“Surrender to God and he will do everything for you.”

Today’s text is an antiphon from the office of readings which caught my spirit very early this morning.  Because of the power outage in Connecticut, we are operating with one generator that allows our refrigerator to work, and one light in the middle of the dining room table.  The light is connected to a power strip which also allows the friars to recharge their cell phones. 

Honestly, we don’t need much more than what we have. We are fine.  No lights or internet access in our rooms or offices. No phones. No big coffee pot going. But we do have a gas stove that allows us to cook.  Again. We have enough, but like everyone else in most of the world, we have become dependent on electricity for so much of what we do, that we walk around a bit frazzled and anxious, scanning the local paper in the morning to see if our neighborhood will soon be back on line.

“Surrender to God and he will do everything for you.”  Really.  Everything?  What can “surrender” mean in this case?  It is a difficult enough word in ordinary times, not something we are inclined to do on a daily basis in a society so committed to individual rights. We have become, I fear, an entitled society.  We pay our taxes and bills and expect perfect service from the government and our utility companies. Sometimes we wonder out loud: Why can’t the power company tell us exactly when our electricity will be turned on again?

Furthermore, I cannot imagine what it must be like for the people answering the phones at the utility companies in the aftermath of a hurricane. No doubt they put up with large amounts of verbal abuse simply because they are the bearers of bad news. Can you hear the stock and slightly disingenuous answer they've learned? “You will have your power as soon as possible. Hospitals and fire departments are receiving priority….”, a sentence or two that says does not answer your question, but which they hope will satisfy a few people.

Sometimes I feel this way when people ask me why their mother is suffering, why their marriage is failing, why they can’t find a job. The answer of course, though obvious, is difficult to offer, more difficult to hear.  “I don’t know, but I can promise you this.  God is with us. God will help us, but we have to surrender and it is never easy.” Surrendering as a spiritual discipline is a powerful challenge that demands we accept life on God’s terms.  Believing that God is always with us, even when we don't feel God's presence, and that God will protect and direct us offers us incalculable results. Peace of mind and heart, freedom from useless anxiety and hope in eternal life.
 
Try today to surrender to God in all things.  If this is a very new exercise for you, ask for the grace to do it today and see what happens.  Tomorrow will take of itself.

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