The Best is Yet To Be

It’s not hard to have great faith when things are easy. God is in his heaven and the sun is smiling down on his creatures below. But when everything gets pulled out from under you, what happens to your faith then?

Christianity has offered many platitudes regarding loss and suffering. For most people in the middle of devastating loss, the words mean little. When one is groping in the dark there are really no words that make it all OK.

Many years ago I prayed to have a closer walk with God. I think my exact words were, “Do anything it takes to make my walk close to you.” That was the end of my life as I knew it. My life wasn’t actually that great at the time but it all went downhill from there! And we think God doesn’t answer our prayers!

The thing is, this is a dangerous, courageous, and perhaps a foolish prayer to pray. When we give God full cart blanche permission to move in and move out our stuff you had better be prepared for a whirlwind. And you had better be prepared to learn about the darkness.

At some point in our journey towards God, we realize that we want more than what we currently know. We realize that there is much more to God than we have ever imagined and we suspect that there is much more to us than we know. We want to know. We want knowledge—about ourselves and about God.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is the perfect metaphor for understanding our journey towards knowing-gnosis. As we become acquainted with the goodness and love of God we crave greater understanding. In order to awaken to a greater reality we are literally shaken out of our comfort zone. Our current reality, our view of ourselves, of others, and of God is not large enough to grow a bigger picture of God or of ourselves.

In order to expand one’s worldview, one’s picture of reality, God has to dismantle our old worldview. Some of us are more stubborn than others. Some of us have to become so miserable that we will finally make different choices regarding our environment and life. Some of us have to lose everything. If there were an easier way, I’m sure it would happen, but most of us hold on tenaciously to the status quo. We say we want a bigger picture, a bigger life, but we won’t let go of the old one! We persistently stay where we are because it is safe. And oftentimes it is how we have interpreted our religious beliefs.

My history after this prayer includes a miserable divorce, abuse by a clergyman, a second divorce, bankruptcy, multiple moves, and desperate loneliness and humiliation. What did I find in all of this? A bigger worldview, a much bigger life, compassion, humility, tolerance, forgiveness, knowledge of myself, others, and God, the full range of human emotions, and the picture just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

We are not our relationships. We are not our marriage. We are not our home. We are not our religion. We are not our job. We are none of these things. When we lose everything, we begin to find out who we are. The darkness can be the catalyst that awakens our soul. The trials are the instruments that remove all of the ego concerns that we have been so preoccupied with. When Spirit awakens our soul, we then start to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of God.

The problem is that all of our stuff usually gets in the way. When you realize that losing your stuff is not the end of the world, you are tasting of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Sometimes the lessons we are here to learn are not easy ones. Sometimes they are quite hard. But gaining a bigger picture of God, awakening to your soul’s calling, and waking up to your reason for being here are all worth the birth pains of growing.

It reminds me of the words of Robert Browning, ”Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all nor be afraid.” It is only after the storm, the tearing loose from our cherished ego, that the best begins to be seen. Hang in there with God; the best is yet to be.


Gabrielle Eden said…
Hi. I found you on Trailady's blog. I'm about the same age as you. Thanks for this post. it was good.
Julie Smith, MS said…
Gabrielle, You are welcome. I'm so glad it was a blessing.
Paul said…
That kind of prayer - imo, you really can't lose. It becomes part of the process, even if it's a painful part for a while. To me, it's personally more meaningful than prayer as asking God for specific favors or "petitionary prayer."

Praying simply to come into God's presence is also the essence of contemplative prayer.
Julie Smith, MS said…
Hi Paul,

Thanks for your thoughts. I went to your blog and read your Kermit piece--which I love and read about your upcoming book. Sounds wonderful! Blessings to you on your journey. You have beautiful insights and wisdom to share.