Last summer when I was on retreat at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, my retreat director said to me:
If you really trusted God, Tom, you’d realize that, in the end, he only needs one thing from you to accomplish his will: your will. But you rely mostly on yourself, your own wits and goodness and talents, and keep God at bay.
Later I looked up the meaning of the phrase, “at bay” and found the meaning just perfect:
To control something and prevent it from causing you problems.
Yes! That’s how all too often my prayer looks: “Okay, God, not too close; calm down; not too much suffering, please; ease up on…” Or, I want to know what’s going on; but the closer I get to God, the more I surrender in trust, the more it seems I don’t know.
My retreat director counseled me to, every morning, begin by asking the Holy Spirit what he wants of me for the day. “Then, after you ask him what he wants from you” he said, “listen long for his response.”
I prayed the next morning, and I listened long. The response was what I feared: “Your will.”
I believe that Bl. Teresa of Calcutta was the modern icon of trust in God, of surrendering the will over God. As she says it:
We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.
But the last word on surrendering the will to God belongs to St. Ignatius, who’s Suscipe is forever the masterpiece of surrender: