Monday, August 4, 2014

Dogs, God, and Us

Readings for Sunday, August 3/ 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm 145:8-9, 15-18
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Matthew 14:13-21

How much do we trust Jesus Christ?

All of the readings this weekend highlight the fact that the Lord will provide for all of our needs, and yet we are faced with the reality spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, that we still spend our wages on that which fails to satisfy rather than turn to the Lord who will fill us with wine and milk and give us heavenly bread.

All of us have needs. All of us need food, drink, and air simply to survive. We need education and healthcare to survive and thrive in this world. We need intimacy with others, that closeness with others that permits us to know and be known, love and be loved. We all have needs and it is God Himself who wants to provide for them, but the catch is that we have to be willing to be fed.

Some of you may have noticed the black dog that wanders around the parking lot from time to time. He sits out in the yard across from the church and sometimes comes over and walks around, car to car, person to person looking for some food and attention. The funny thing is that I live here and see him all the time and I want to give him food and attention and he won’t come to me because he doesn’t trust me yet. I want to provide for him but he won’t let me yet. And we’re much the same with the Lord.

He wants to provide for our every need, but we’re hesitant to come near to Him because we’re afraid. In the past we’ve all gotten burned from trusting too much in people, and we are now hesitant to place our trust in the Father who made us - what happens when the day comes that we pray our hardest and try our best to be holy people and things don’t work out the way we want them to? What happens on the day that we feel like God, who is supposed to provide for our needs, isn’t listening? Those days come for all of us because God doesn’t always give us the things we want and He doesn’t always give us the things we need when we want them. He gives us our needs in due season, as Psalm 145 reminded us.

The temptation we all face is trusting not so much in Christ, but in ourselves. The scriptures tell me that if I trust in Jesus I will be richly provided for and will have more than I could have asked. But the thing is that in our wounded, mistrustful humanity, we often settle for a lower payout in exchange for having some control over the situation. We gladly take a worse situation just so that we don’t have to risk our heavenly Father letting us down. But if we never take the risk, we never get the payoff. If we never trust in Jesus in this life, how can we expect to inherit the gifts He has waiting for us in the next?

Y’all, God created us because He loves us. You parents and grandparents know what that love feels like; you know the lengths you would go and often have gone just to take care of your kids. And God’s love is even greater than that. He will provide for our needs, absolutely. But if we trust in Him, He’ll sometimes even provide for our wants, just like earthly parents do. All my life I have wanted to own one of those big orange traffic cones. I can’t explain why; I just wanted one. And guess what I had sitting in the patio of the rectory here at St. Ann’s when I arrived – a big orange traffic cone. It’s crazy, but you know what, I think God makes stuff like that happen sometimes. He loves us so much but He is just patiently waiting for us to realize the extent of that love for ourselves and come to Him to be fed with the grace in store for us, to receive our needs in this life, and to rejoice in the riches of the life to come. He is infinitely trustworthy because He makes no promise He has not kept; the question is how much do we trust Him?