Where is our trust, really? Lately, the political conversation in the United States has me wondering. Do we make our leaders into messiahs, believing blindly that they’ll save us from our troubles? Do we falsely think that the correct policies and governmental laws will save us from our problems? Why do so many people seem to think that more jobs will be the solution?
As Christians we must keep ourselves in check. Jesus is our savior, not a politician or a policy. We know that our government- and democracy in itself- is imperfect. We are flawed. By ourselves, we would be hopeless.
With Jesus, though, we discover over and over where to put our trust. We can act for change as the Body of Christ through votes, service, prayer, and other Gospel activity. When we say “yes” to Jesus’ way then we become instruments building up the true Kingdom. We’re united in our diversity and we all have a part. This ideal is part of what attracted me to begin discerning religious life over a decade ago. Now, the day-to-day grind of balancing prayer, ministry and community living teaches me to keep letting go.
In my experience, the more I find myself saying yes to Jesus the less important I feel. It’s excellent really. I am relieved that peace on earth and justice for all is not really up to me—or any human for that matter—but my cooperation with God’s goodness naturally brings about the peace and justice I pray for. God’s got this. I can calm down.
God’s ways are naturally very good! And, like scripture says, they shall fulfill our hunger. As we trust, we must let go. As we let go, we will become fed and able to grow into new, great things.
I love pondering the wonders of nature in order to gain some clues about how things are supposed to work for us in our spiritual lives. In this part of the world this time of year, a lot of colorful leaves are coating the earth. Recently, some cool gentle rains have fallen, causing the leaves to deteriorate some and sink into the soil beneath the trees they once decorated. Trees work hard to create these leaves once a year and their activity of creating them gives them great life and growth through the hot months. But then, as the cool months approach it is time for grounding. The trees must let go of their creations, of their attachments. As the trees let go and strip themselves they are transformed. Amazingly, as the leaves rot into the earth, the leaves that they let go of become the rich, grounding soil that allow the trees to keep on growing.
Personally, I can learn much from trees. If I detach from the things that I work hard to create, I shall end up being nourished by them. As I am nourished, I’ll become more grounded and able to grow and create more life.
Collectively, we could learn great lessons from the beauty of trees too. Trees surrender themselves to God’s designs. They teach us how to trust and remember that our groundedness and growth isn’t just in our hands. Sure, trees don’t really have a choice in the matter. The fact that we do, however, could inspire us even more.
What could our country look like if we let God recreate us? Or, who we would become if our Church and congregations really stripped ourselves with the same surrender as the trees? Can we let go of that which has given us life? Can we let our history ground us as we grow to new heights?
We can spin in circles from the chaos of political debate and division in our Church. Or, we can trust in God with the calm surrender that the trees model. I believe that if we do the latter, we’ll live into the answers we hope for. Amen!
*A version of this reflection was previously published on Messy Jesus Business