If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Your Graying Years

You who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you (Isaiah 46:3-4).

I recently received an email from an old friend. He’d found some photos he’d taken of me more than 36 years ago. I’d forgotten how young I once looked. Or how much hair I used to have.

I thought about those photos this morning as I read through Isaiah. As I read, I let my mind wander back over the nearly four decades of my walk with Christ. I’ve seen many answers to prayer during those decades. Recovered health. Marriages mended. Children reconciled. Lost, found. Embittered given hope.

And I’ve seen many prayers go unanswered - or at least, not answered in the way I’d asked. Illness brought death to family and friends despite my fervent prayers for healing. People I love lost their jobs, their marriages, their children . . . and not a few lost their faith.

I confess God confuses me.

Actually, that is too tame a statement. And not entirely true.

More than confuses, sometimes God angers me. Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a boat tossed by heavy seas, swamped by mountainous waves and I cry out, “Lord, don’t you see? Don’t you hear? Don’t you care?”

After thirty-eight years of this journey with God, I know He sees. I know He hears. And of course, I know He cares.

I know these things, despite the prayers that still go unanswered. I know it because . . . well – now that I deliberately think about it – I suppose it’s because He has granted me faith in the face of the waves. He has graced me with trust despite my confusion – and my anger. He has nurtured in me confidence even when it seems I have no reason to be confident. Not that I am anyone special that He would grace me in such ways. Instead, I think He helps my faith, trust and confidence simply because I need His help so badly.

I looked at myself again in those early photos and, from the perspective of my graying years, I realize God was with me all the time, in each sorrow, through each storm, through doubt, and anger, and unanswered prayer.

That I couldn’t see Him, or hear Him, doesn’t mean He was absent.

I still, to this day, do not know why people for whom I beg God for mercy die, or why families shatter, or spouses leave the Church, or . . . or . . . or.

All I do know . . . all I choose to know . . . is this granite-like promise: Even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.


Anonymous said...

I like this. I can relate. Though I know it is not that God doesn't see or that he doesn't care...sometimes the answer is just "no."

My pastor often says that God answers us in just three ways: "yes", "no" and "later". Deciphering which answer I've been given is about as far as I get in understanding God.

Richard Maffeo said...

St. Teresa of Avila once commented: There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.

When God says "No," it's always for a good reason.

Anonymous said...

Wow.....awesome insight, Rich, and well said....deciphering what God is saying has been such a challenge for me in the past 5 years especially. I felt like I prayed so fervently for answers.....and they seemed so slow in coming it made me wonder if I was heard. I never wondered that God wanted what was best and that he loved me unconditionally, though. So much of the time I was not sure if I was heard, but I never felt forsaken. Again, thanks for your insight....

Richard Maffeo said...

You are welcome. I am glad to know something of what I experience can help others.

Patricia said...

I find it helpful to think of those confusing times when I don't understand what God is doing, as a little gift I can offer to Him.
We have so little to give, yet when we can trust in the midst of confusion, and still believe when fervent prayers go unanswered, well then, it seems to me that this must be so pleasing to God. Perhaps this is why He places us in those very situations.

In a sense, we are saying: I believe You are Who You say You are. I trust in Your Goodness, Your Mercy, Your Omnipotence. You will never do less than what is best for me and those for whom I pray.

I bow before Your Will, for You are All and I am nothing. Yet Your Love for me consumes You, and in this Fire of Love, I find refuge during the storms of my life.

Richard Maffeo said...

Wise insight, Patricia. Thank you for sharing it. You should be writing a blog, also.

Cleopatra said...

Oh yea..this is good. I'm currently in my Wilderness season and I have to admit that my faith has been rocked to the very core. This rocking has revealed some things, though: (1) My foundation wasn't completely set on Christ, (2) I didn't have it all together as I'd imagined & (3)God is so faithful, wonderful, loving, merciful, gracious, patient and willing to meet me right where I am, dust me off, pick up the broken pieces, put me back on the Potter's Wheel and make me over into the vessel He created me.

Has this makeover been a pleasant experience? NOOO WAAAYYY!!! But I know that these momentary light afflictions can't surpass the glory of the future He has for me.

Do I still experience doubt, fear, worry, confusion, anger and sadness? Yes, but I'm noticing that these espisodes are getting shorter and I'm feeling more joy, peace, love, contentment and hope.

I know I have some more to go in this Wilderness but I'm thanking God for the PromiseLand He has in store for me.

Richard Maffeo said...

And I pray for God's grace to continue to strenthen you, Cleopatra.