They say if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. These words must have extra resonance for all of us who’ve lived through the past year. So many plans we had, large and small, were wiped away in an instant just over a year ago.
Now, a year later, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as the pandemic seems to be waning. But we’ve all faced this frustrating yet incontrovertible realization: We are not writing the scripts of our own life stories.
It is God who’s in control, not any of us. No matter how many times we learn this lesson, it always seems that we must learn it again the next time we confront an unexpected challenge.
Years ago, I remember pouring my heart out in prayer for the greatest intention I had. As time passed, it seemed unlikely that the prayer would be answered the way I wanted. I slowly came to accept that it was God’s will that it would not happen. Finally I found a deep peace in that internal surrender.
Imagine my shock when God granted that prayer request just a short time later! Naively, I thought, “Well, forever after this, I’ve learned to surrender my will to God’s.”
I laughed over that assumption many times in the following years. Unforeseen setbacks and failed efforts taught me that surrender is not a one-time achievement: It’s an ongoing process that lasts all of our lives. Radical trust and total surrender to God’s will are lessons we have to learn again, and again, and again.
As I have tried to take to heart this lesson of surrender over the years, I return repeatedly to the example of Our Lady. She is our model in so many things, not least in her response when she faced an unexpected change to her plans.
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