Everyday Faith

When our need to experience love is greater than our ability to trust that we are loved


During confession one morning, Father Joe suggested I work on two things:

First, that I need to trust God. Second, I need to experience God’s love and believe in its reliability.

It turns out that Father Joe is in good company. Saint Paul shared the same desire for the young church in Ephesus.

I read Ephesians 3:14-20 aloud every day for the past month. With one important change to make it even more personal. This is what I read to myself every morning:

When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God…that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give me the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart, living within me as I trust in him. May my roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may I be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for myself, though it is so great that I will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it.

And so at last I will be filled up with God himself. Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within me is able to do far more than I would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. (Ephesians 3:14-20)

I change Saint Paul’s second person “you” to first person “I” because I want the desire to experience of God’s love to become ingrained in every cell of my person.

At the same time, until I trust God loves me, my trust in God will not be authentic.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

If I am to believe in the goodness of God’s plans, my trust in God must be strong enough to endure disappointment when I don’t understand an outcome that is different than what I prayed for, a healing that didn’t come, a job that was lost, a loved one who walks away.

My trust in God will not withstand the storm unless, as Saint Paul says, “my roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love”.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The words of this verse are familiar, most of us memorized its singsong rhythm as children.

But I can only appreciate the gift of love behind these words, when I accept how important it is to God that I receive his love, first.

Once we understand ‘how deep, and how high his love really is and experience this love for ourselves, [we will] at last be filled up with God himself.’

My experience of God’s love is still at the head level not the heart level so I don’t have an epiphany to share with you yet.

Except that this pursuit has brought me into an intimate conversation with God, which has deepened my relationship, and my faith. And I learn attentiveness and how to sit with my heart. Much like the anticipation that we are called to during Advent.

I am sure God’s love is waiting for me.

Matthew 1:18-24New International Version (NIV)
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.



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