Lent revisits some of the same readings as in previous years and the one today from Wisdom had the same words capture my attention: they did not know the secret purposes of God. This still remains true for me. I do not even try to say that I understand God’s secret purposes in life. My mind does not work like the Creator’s. My vision is short-term and cannot see what the long-term outcome is. My heart gets all tied up with emotions and entangled in relationships. I am unfree in so many ways. The other day I was walking, mulling over a conversation with someone who usually pushes my buttons. She simply cannot understand my stance. The words that came to mind were Get behind me, Satan. We, who do not know the secret purposes want to pray our way out of the corner. We do not have the energy to stay awake with Jesus in the garden. We want the cup taken away permanently, without asking that God’s will be done. We want our happy endings.
The world has horrible events unfolding as it always does, whether on a macro or a micro level. Wouldn’t it be better if we were not using children as soldiers or not deforesting our planet? Life would be so much better if I did not have endless people with cancer on my daily prayer list. If only our parents were not slowly losing their minds and their ability to move gracefully through life, our stress would be better managed. Hatred is raising its angry head in sacred places. What will happen in the next while to the human race? Fear is taking hold of hearts and playing games with our minds. We cannot find peace so easily if we keep getting distracted from the fact that Love wins.
I stood on my balcony this morning and marveled that the river is almost free of ice. I watched the chunks of ice floating by and wondered if sometimes breaking is good, even if it wreaks temporary havoc. Spring is coming. Flood fears are low this year for my area but some people are needing to sandbag to be safe. I also scanned the river banks searching for a woman who went missing from my church last fall, curious if the family will finally have closure now that the river is thawed. We all break at various points in life, especially when we do not understand God’s secret purposes.
This week was the reconciliation service at our church. Confessing your sins is a requirement for Catholics prior to Easter. I mentioned to the priest that I am feeling less and less patient with people who are not mindful of what their words will mean to me. My other sins were laid out before God and then before the absolution, the priest more or less said to me that I keep showing up and serving. His point was that was all I was being asked. I had read the Examen during the that evening. I could feel the weariness in my bones as I did. I doubt that most people noticed. I do keep showing up still because I have said from the beginning that I want to serve as long as I am able My penance was to go and sit before the Blessed Sacrament and simply say, Here am I, Lord. Without knowing it, the priest had given me the perfect penance.
The Eucharist and Good Friday are perfect examples of God’s secret plans. Both require a brokenness that is incomprehensible to most. Trusting God is perhaps the lesson we need to learn over and over again in life. Some of us agonize with letting go and others of us have learned to free fall into the hands of Jesus. I am somewhere beyond the middle these days, with the occasional openness to lean back and know that I will be caught. On a recent retreat that I was on, a couple of people joked about swapping crosses, but the reality is that most of us would not take a different burden. We would keep our own and carry on to Calvary, following the bloody footsteps of our Saviour.
God creates secret purposes that are magnificent. They may not always make sense on this side of heaven. They sure can feel overwhelming and unbearable sometimes. Not all the secret schemes are experienced that way in the here and now. Moments of being surprised by great joy are also part of those secret plans. People do fall in love in unexpected ways or finally conceive a long-awaited child. Miracles are a witness that this Secret Planner is a dreamer as much as a schemer. Sometimes in the breaking, new life peeks out and Hope emerges in ways never thought possible. We should free fall into those hands with as much abandon. Trust that God has plans to bring you peace and prosperity and not disaster.
What secret plans of God are either frightening or blessing you right now?
Can you free fall into God’s loving hands either way?
Secret Planner, Dreamer, Schemer, have your way. Let me free fall into your secret purposes with a willing spirit so that your will be done. Give me a heart of trust and a spirit of abandon as I lean backwards into your compassionate hands. Amen.