“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
We may know these verses by heart, but living with them isn’t always easy. Perhaps like many, for years I feel I’ve dedicated myself to the asking, the seeking, and knocking, and yet prayers go unanswered. I’ve found so little that I’ve so deeply sought. In the book Good Hearts, Reynolds Price gives us a character who shares our same struggles, and yet thinks about it differently:
It had begun to dawn on me lately that when Jesus said “It shall be given,” he didn’t quite say what it was. He didn’t say it was the exact thing you asked for … Maybe it’s just peace of heart, the peace of knowing you’ve talked to the center of things, and He or It has said, “No,” or “Not now.”
It was the “not now” that struck me personally. This past year, I went through a very difficult couple of months. I experienced despair, journeyed through several “dark nights of the soul.” I leaned on my faith in a way I never had before, because I felt it was all I had to lean on. This experience profoundly affected me. When I felt vulnerable and afraid, it was my faith in God that sustained me. I felt He was aware of my pain and sent out messengers to comfort me—people, music, books, moments—that conveyed compassion and care: this feeling of “unearned love,” to quote Anne Lamott. In reflecting, I believe all the no’s and not-now’s; the wearying asking, knocking, and seeking (despite feeling like I had little to show for it) was not for naught, for it had built up the foundation of my faith, transforming it into something real, solid, and strong enough to hold me up when I needed it the most. And it did.
This Lent, I invite you to join me in reflecting on those experiences that have made our faith—as deep and as familiar as it may be to us—feel real, solid, and sustaining, and to roam on in to the center of things. Perhaps some of those no’s or not-now’s are part of God’s grace, guiding us to where we are today, and to whom God knows we can be.
Audrey M. Wood
Appointed readings for today: Esther (Apocrypha) 14:1-6, 12-14, Psalm 138, Matthew 7:7-12