Lectio: TRUSTING STILL
J esus said to his disciples, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. (John 14:1)
O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall.
I n 1935 two alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith founded Alcoholics Anonymous. This was in Ohio and the movement has two million members now throughout the world. From their own experience the two men discovered that there were several steps in recovering from their addiction. The first step is a surprising one: “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is a big step to take, because an addict will most likely deny that there is a problem. Often it is only when the situation becomes desperate that the person finally says, “I have a problem and it has beaten me.” It is a great grace that enables an addict to see this and to admit it: he or she is now open to receive help.
Steps to recovery
Bill and Bob were influenced by an evangelical community, known as the Oxford Group. From that group’s reflection on the Bible and from their own experience of what helped them to remain sober, they discovered the other steps they needed to take. The second step was this: “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” These two vital steps led to the third one: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” There were nine other steps, but the first three were at the heart of recovery.
Steps for all of us
I believe that these three steps may be helpful to us all in the difficult times in which we find ourselves. I invite you to see how they may help you right now in dealing with the most difficult problem you face in your personal life or in your family. I will put the three steps in slightly different words.
Step 1: We are completely dependent on God. When we find ourselves in an impossible situation, it is easy to believe this. But even when our lives seem manageable, we are still dependent on God. In order to come into this world, we depended on our parents and on God. At every moment we depend on God to keep us in existence. In a real sense we depend on God for everything we have; St. Paul said that God gives everyone everything.
Step 2: We believe that we can depend on God to take care of us. A particular problem may be beyond our power to solve, but we believe that it is not beyond God’s power. That act of faith lessens the anxiety we feel; we are not helpless and alone.
Step 3: We turn our lives over to the care of God. I think of the particular problem that is weighing on me and I turn that over to the care of God. Bob Smith expressed this third step in this prayer:
God, please take over the management of my life
and everything about me.
I am making this conscious decision
to turn my will and my life over to your care
and I am asking you to please take over
all parts of my life.
Bit by bit
I find these three steps helpful not only in times of trouble but also in day to day living. Some mornings I remember that I am completely dependent on the Lord to live that particular day well; I remind myself that I can depend on him to do so, and I put my life and my day in his care. Or if I have a demanding job to do, I may remember that I am completely dependent on the Lord to get this job done. That realization itself is helpful: I am remembering that I am not on my own and that I can depend on the Lord.; then I put myself and that job in the Lord’s care. These three steps have not changed my life in a dramatic way, but I am confident that when I remember to practise them, they are changing me a little bit, bit by bit.
At the Last Supper, Jesus knew how distressed and frightened the apostles were. In his farewell words he assured them that they need not let their hearts be troubled because they could trust in the Father and in him. Jesus’ trust in his Father did not make his last days easy, but it enabled him to be faithful to the end. In his agony in the garden he prayed, “Not my will be yours be done” and as he died on the cross, he prayed, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He truly turned his will and his life over to the care of God the Father.
In God alone be at rest, my soul;
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress: I stand firm.
In God is my safety and glory,
the rock of my strength,
Take refuge in God all you people.
Trust him at all times.
Pour out your hearts before him
for God is our refuge.