Dear Donagh,
If i keep saying yes to God in my life what's going to happen to me?  What if i say no?  I've been so blessed sometimes i feel overwhelmed.   Sometimes i feel all alone in my faith and in my love for God; and what if i'm not good enough?  help.



Dear Barbara,

If you keep saying yes to God I don’t know what will happen to you; no one could know such a thing.  Our faith gives us a direction, not a detailed map of the way ahead.  Yes, we say that Jesus is “the Way;” but he is constantly drawing us beyond ourselves, into the Unknown (see this month’s ‘Jacob’s Well’).  Christians are “the community of hope.”  We live by hope and not by sight.  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard.” 

We would all love to know the future, but I suspect that such knowledge would soon become unbearable.  Yes, you could take the first bus to Las Vegas and clean them out, but you wouldn’t be such a welcome guest after that first time (remember Rain Man?).  Besides, there would be no thrill of winning; it would be more like withdrawing money from a bank.  More seriously, could you live with full knowledge of how and when you yourself (and all your friends and family, one by one) were going to suffer and die?  Half of our ignorance of the future makes our life bearable and the other half makes most of the fun.  We should be grateful that we don’t know the future. 

Today we are reminded on all sides to live in the now.  Advertisers are constantly urging us to buy now, to invest today, to get the newest version….  Strange, then, that spiritual teachers are telling us the same thing: live in the now, the present moment.  But while the advertisers are only interested in relieving us of our money, the spiritual teachers are trying to relieve us of an unbearable burden.  Don’t try to live in the future, they tell us, because it is an illusion: there is no such ‘place’ as the future, so you cannot live there.    

All that exists is now.  I woke up one morning with that awareness so bright in my mind that I didn’t care whether the sun came up.  That's is quite different from just ‘knowing’ it.  I've heard some very doctrinaire objections to this awareness.  It’s a denial of the next life, I read somewhere.  That’s a good thing at any rate, I'd reply if I wanted to shock – since there can be no such thing as a next life.  If it’s not in the present it’s not a life.  The religious expression ‘eternal life’ is not about the future.  “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3).  John was not suggesting that we should postpone such knowledge till after our funeral.  Eternal life (which means God’s kind of life) is now. 

Enjoy what you have now, Barbara.  Yes, you are blessed; you have reason to be overwhelmed.  The Kingdom of God is among us (Lk 17:21).  For Kingdom you can say Presence.  God is present in the present.  Meister Eckhart spoke about our ‘little now’ as a window into God’s eternal now, “God eternal day.” 

What if you were to say no to God, you ask.  The rational mind thinks in binary code, like a computer; when we say yes we immediately imagine no as well.  There are occasions for saying no, but only in the interests of yes.  We say no to our illusions and our false tracks.  But no is not the equal of yes; no means nothing without yes. 

“Sometimes i feel all alone in my faith and in my love for God,” you wrote.  No, we are all one in the Body of Christ, even if sometimes we feel all alone.  “What if i'm not good enough?”  Nobody is good enough.  “I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts,” wrote St Paul. “I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith” (Philemon 3:9).  If we were perfect by our own efforts we wouldn’t need God or Jesus, or indeed anyone, or anything at all.  


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