Thursday, September 29, 2005

Follow the Leader
A Guest Post by Colin O'Brien

Belief in God, in His mercy, forgiveness, and love, is often looked at as the reward, the goal, or the thing that will bring us to happiness. In a world that holds up individual happiness as the objective in life, and which suggests that we make the right choices to attain that happiness, it is mistakenly believed that faith in God is a quick fix for the problem of attaining happiness. That attitude suggests that, once I have attained faith, I will find happiness, contentment, peace of mind, and fulfillment of dreams. God often, however, has other plans for us.

For that reason, I suspect, there are those who hold out the naïve hope that they can find happiness by other, less demanding means. As I have written before, I tried to find the freedom and happiness in all sorts of places, but was unable to do so. I explored the fulfillment of my own desires, and often attained that satisfaction; the terror of the life I lived was that of an insatiable hunger that grew all the time I tried to satisfy it. The very behaviors I believed would fulfill my longings and desires proved unsatisfactory, and caused me to despair of my ability to love, to feel security and happiness. I came to believe that love and joy were never to be mine, and that I could only escape the loneliness I felt at the time of my death. That I have been found by and reintroduced to God, however, does not mean that my life has suddenly become an easy, comfortable existence.

Although I have come to know great joy as I have grown in my faith in and love for God, I have by no means reached a destination, or a point where I can say, "I have faith now, and I can go about the business of getting happy." Where the world reminds us to work hard now and always plan for tomorrow's happiness, God reminds me, "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:11) and, "Put not your trust in princes, in man, in whom there is no salvation. When his spirit departs he returns to his earth, on that day his plans perish," (Psalm 146:3-4).

Any time I let my mind worry about what will become of me in the future, I walk away from God. Though I know this to be true, it is still easy to worry and to become afraid. Fortunately, God understands this and is always there to assure me, to save me, and to remove those things that come between us. The more this becomes clear to me, the easier it is for me to be still and to ask for His guidance and protection.

A simple metaphor can be used to explain why I do this. There was a time when I was drowning and found myself unable to swim away from the turbulent waters that surrounded me. My friend jumped in, rescued me, and pulled me to safety. I jumped in again countless times, and my friend was always there to pull me out to safety, and to tell me how to avoid the same calamity in the future. He never got angry with me, or grew impatient, or gave up on me. When I came to see all that He has done for me, I recognized the debt that I owed Him, one that I could never pay off. Fortunately, the only thing He asks of me is to follow Him and to trust that He knows what is best. Out of gratitude for the life He gave me, I gladly seek His friendship.

This post originally appeared on Colin's blog, Fallen Sparrow.