Posted: April 18, 2023 in World On The Edge

Several years back, I held a Stories of Faith workshop in my parish. The purpose was to consider a particular time that God had been present in the participant’s life, and for him or her to write about it.

At the beginning of the workshop, each person was to write down a single word that might express his or her own faith experience. There were 18 participants, and there were 17 different words expressed. Only two people picked the same word!

I was amazed at how varied the responses were. But aren’t we all so different? God touches us very uniquely in our particular situations. How vast, how great, how infinite He must be!

Some of the words were: relief, patience, love, thankful, surrender, acceptance, frustration, tears, lost, joy, and many others that escape me at the moment. But there was one word expressed that really touched me because I have felt it personally. That word was Fear.

I happen to know that the lady at workshop who chose the word, Fear, had transported herself and her family to Dothan after surviving the terror of Hurricane Katrina that practically wiped out her small town. I cannot imagine what she lost. I can, however, imagine her fear. For most of my life, I’ve had to work to overcome this emotion–in small things, as well as in larger ones.

At the workshop, this lady didn’t read aloud what she’d written as some others did. So I can’t speak for her, only myself.

As I’ve said before on this blog: God loves us madly, even though we are sinners. If we don’t accept that God loves us, we will be fearful. If we don’t accept that His mercy has redeemed us, we will be fearful. If we don’t trust Him to always be with us, we will be fearful.

But when we accept that God loves us, that love of His often calls us to do what is uncomfortable. It calls us to actions that may well strike fear in us. It may be something as seemingly simple as reaching out to a person we don’t like very much. Or it may be as complicated as giving up something, or someone, we’ve become excessively attached to.

So is this the cat biting its tail? We look to God to keep us from fear and what does He do? He allows fearful people and situations in our lives? He gives us a task, a calling, that frightens us to death?

The difference is that He is beside us in this task, whatever it might be.

I am certain that God is in every person’s life whether the person acknowledges Him or not, believes in Him or not. From the moment of conception, God is in everyone’s life, almost like a divine flashlight we carry with us that brings darkness into light. Even if our life is a disaster. Even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is the life of every person. Even in a life full of thorns and weeds, God can shine out a space in which a good seed can grow, prosper, and ultimately change us.  

This is exactly why we don’t have to fear. We only have to accept that God is present and with us in everything. We are never alone.

This is, of course, key in Catholic fiction—it’s what we authors strive to infuse into our novels and short stories– God’s divine presence like a flashlight within us.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8 :12

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