Inviting a Response to Trust in God

November 13, 2023

Steve-not his real name simply stared at me for thirty minutes as he thought about my question. Fifteen minutes before this fateful encounter, Steve had entered my office unbeknownst to my secretary with a prepared list of questions on the Catholic faith. In conversation with a mutual friend, Steve was told that I was the “guy” he needed to see to have his questions about God, Jesus, salvation, and hell answered. As he entered my office, he readily admitted that our mutual friend told him to come see me and that he was here to find out what I knew about faith.

Once Steve sat down and fixed his eyes on me, he scanned my office and noticed the books, religious art, and religious statues I had situated throughout. He appeared both amused and dismissive at the holy visuals and immediately turned his attention to his first question: “Should I trust in God?” Waiting for some type of theological response that the likes of St. Augustine or St. John Henry Newman would relish, I simply observed Steve with his distrustful paganistic expression wondering if I could answer his question. An important point to note about Steve was that he was a non-religious person with a passive pagan mindset built on personal fulfillment. As Steve continued to wait for my response, I asked him a simple question: “Who have you helped today?”

Steve was very dumbfounded by the question and became visibly annoyed. He kept staring at me wondering how to answer the question. After thirty minutes of staring at each other in silence, he finally asked, “Why did you ask me that question?” My response left him more perplexed; “if your issue is trust in God, then you are asking yourself whether you should seek refuge in him. All of us are created with the ability if we choose to serve as a spiritual, moral, or physical refuge for another person. When a person asks you for help, they are asking to be a refuge for them.”

Responding to the Invitation

As Steve continued to discern my comments, with a deadpan look told me; “I don’t know if I can seek refuge in God.” As we continued our conversation, I assured him that I was not bothered by his responses and did not negatively judge him as this was his journey. He appreciated my openness and patience with him and I invited him to come back anytime to discuss any other questions he has about the Catholic faith.  

What started as an initial encounter became a year-long dialogue with Steve until he finally decided to come home to the Catholic Church. With a renewed identity as a son of God and disciple of Jesus Christ, Steve cherished the sacraments of initiation received at Easter and embarked on a journey to help others build trust in God. Steve’s life continued to mature with his beloved bride and the blessing of multiple children. Steve now serves as a faithful catechist in his parish community.

Steve’s journey is both similar and different to anyone who struggles with trusting in God or simply believing there is a God. The question of trust also transitions to the question “Does God love me a sinner?” My experience with Steve taught me that it is important to engage anyone through a divine perspective, not a human one. Our behavior, mannerisms, and personal disposition should reflect an unending joy for God and his Son Jesus Christ. After Steve came into the Church, he commented that what struck him about our conversation was my conviction and trust that God was with me. This scared him because he had not witnessed this from anyone before. St. Paul reminds us to be:

Imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.[1]

The Church reminds us that all of us possess a missionary mandate to proclaim the salvific message of Jesus Christ who was sent to be the mediator to all men[2] and hence we are to be imitators of this act of sending. In the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad Gentes our missionary mandate is noted further:

Wherever God opens a door of speech for proclaiming the mystery of Christ . . ., there is announced to all men. . . with confidence and constancy. . . the living God, and He Whom He has sent for the salvation of all, Jesus Christ. . . ., in order that non - Christians, when the Holy Spirit opens their heart (cf. Acts 16:14), may believe and be freely converted to the Lord, that they may cleave sincerely to Him Who, being the "way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), fulfills all their spiritual expectations, and even infinitely surpasses them.

This conversion must be taken as an initial one, yet sufficient to make a man realize that he has been snatched away from sin and led into the mystery of God's love, who called him to enter into a personal relationship with Him in Christ. For, by the workings of divine grace, the new convert sets out on a spiritual journey, by means of which, already sharing through faith in the mystery of Christ's Death and Resurrection, he passes from the old man to the new one, perfected in Christ (cf. Col. 3:5-10; Eph. 4:20-24).[3]

As we continue with our missionary mandate to bring Christ to a pagan world, St. Francis De Sales[4] provides us with a fitting prayer to place our complete trust in God:

Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them. He has guided you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, He will carry you lovingly in his arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations.

 

[1] Eph 5:1-2

[2] Gal 2:9

[3] Ad Gentes, 13

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