Growing up in (mostly) evangelical churches (also Catholic ones-- have we talked about what a mutt I am?), I was taught that there was nothing too big or small to pray for, nothing God might not do. Anything could happen when you prayed. I prayed over all kinds of things. Later, I was taught by an Episcopal priest that either God loves us, or God is omnipotent, but there's too much suffering in the world for both to be true. I tried to receive and share God's love, but I stopped asking for help in tough situations.
I've gone back to praying about everything. First of all: WOW, does that feel better.
But I've wondered-- what can God really do? I believe in free will, I don't think that God overrides our decisions and turns us into little robots. What I've landed on, instead, is that God is continually offering invitations. God doesn't control, but God invites, and those invitations are powerful. I've thought in terms of God's invitations to me for years now (what else is spiritual direction about?!), but somehow I hadn't taken that next logical step of finding hope in God's invitations to everyone.
A loved one has suffered from mental illness for many years. She will not, or cannot, see how her behavior, her rage and her recklessness, affects her family. I don't believe that God will magically cure the illness overnight, but when I believe that God is offering invitations to her (and will not stop offering them), I finally have hope that there might be healing.
A couple does not know how to love their son, and in fact might not know what love is at all. The invitations keep coming, though.
I believe God works like a loving parent who stands across the room, arms open wide, waiting for a child's first steps. I don't believe God forces us, shoves us, holds puppet strings. Our job, then, is to listen for the invitations, accept them as they come, and rest in the confidence that others are being invited, too.
The Feast of the Annunciation
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