At Sunday mass a few weeks ago, the holy, retired, cheerful Irish priest saying mass that morning talked about The King–and for once he wasn’t talking about Jesus.
Fr. Mike talked about how Elvis had a strong Christian background, honing his skills singing and playing gospel music at the Pentecostal church his family attended in Tupelo, Mississippi. After he started “making it big,” however, Elvis struggled to reconcile his religious beliefs with the lure of showbusiness. He once asked a friend a very honest question, “What if I give up all of this, and find that God doesn’t bring joy to my heart?”
I think that’s a question that is deep in my heart–and maybe yours too?–if we’re being as honest as Elvis.
Many of us choose and work through a special penance during Lent, often giving up something we enjoy.
What if we gave up our very desire and hope for happiness to God–all the time? What if we decided to trust Him enough to give Him the most personal and important decisions in our lives, the decisions we make in the workplace, in our relationships with friends, in our personal habits, in our prayer lives, in our entertainment, in how we spend our money, in our marriages, in the bedroom?
I know it’s hard to trust God sometimes. I’ve been there. I am there.
It’s hard when I have a choice to make that will definitively affect the rest of my life.
It’s hard when I have to fight anger and frustration to do the Godly thing in a strained relationship.
It’s hard when people I would wish for approval from don’t support or understand major choices I’ve made.
It’s hard when someone I love is suffering.
It’s hard when I know I won’t be recognized for my effort.
It’s hard when my human eyes don’t see any way that He could bring good out of something terrible.
It’s hard when I see in my life good people who die young, and bad people who seem to prosper.
It’s hard when I hit a low point in my marriage.
It’s hard when God asks me to give so unselfishly of my time, energy and finances.
At some point, as mature Christians and as human beings, we all have to face something: This God stuff is either all true–or it’s not. God is either worthy of all our trust–or He’s not.
And at some point, as mature Catholics, we have to face something else: following God means following the teachings of the Church he established 2,000 years ago when he gave the keys to Peter.
There is no picking and choosing what works for me, what everyone else does, what makes me comfortable, what doesn’t rock the boat. And there is no place for willful ignorance. No room for apathy. No safety in staying middle-of-the-road. No time for procrastination.
When it comes down to it, though, my own short life has too many heavenly fingerprints on it for me to ignore.
So many people I know of all ages are out to “find themselves” in some way. Not that I’m any kind of expert in life at 25 years old, but so far it seems to me that perhaps life is more about losing ourselves–and finding purpose and peace–in a God who is worthy of all our trust.
And so I ponder these things in my heart this Lent, and especially this: “Whoever finds their life will lose it; and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” -Matthew 10:39