Antonio in Rudolfo Anaya’s book, Bless Me, Ultima, is impatient. He pushes himself to be a devout Catholic and becomes the priest of his friend group at age seven, playing confessor for the sins of his friends and offering them penances. When Antonio is preparing for his First Communion, he hopes that the Eucharist will answer all his questions in life, like why bad things happen to good people after his family friend is murdered.
Oftentimes, I find myself having the same impatient attitude towards my faith as Antonio. Before I was baptised, I believed that finally accepting God through this liturgical moment would bring me into a completely different life. Antonio expects after his First Communion, “Soon He would be with me, in me, and He would answer all the questions I had to ask.” How often do I still wish, and pray, and hope for this suddenness? How long have I hoped for the day that I would wake up and possess the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment to understand everything in the world?
Take the example of Saul in the New Testament, when on the road to Damascus, ”suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice” (Acts 9). Reading this passage as a kid, I was excited to grow up and have my Saul moment where God spoke to me, but the voice never came. I have never had a light shine from heaven and blind me, nor have I heard a booming voice from above. If God’s actions in the bible are seemingly so sudden, why are they not sudden in my life?
Well, the short answer is, they never were. Saul, who after his conversion was renamed Paul, did not formally start his ministry until three years after his dramatic experience on the road to Damascus. Another example of a later bloomer is Jesus himself, who did not formally start his ministry until he was at least thirty. Before then, Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3), and the only glimpse we get of Jesus’ youth is when he is at the temple as a young adult (Luke 2). Even the Son of God took time to learn and grow. Who am I to expect God to enter into my life in suddenness and glory?
That does not mean, however, that God is not sudden in my life. Saying that God is always sudden, or that God is not always sudden, is ultimately putting God in a box and ignoring God’s sovereignty in my life. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about how pride gets in my way. God has granted me discernment in understanding that I was holding on to pride in parts of my own life: my mustache, my view of others, how little I listen. I felt distanced from God, and that I had to fix myself overtime before I could continue to walk with Christ. Then suddenly, in the midst of this, God spoke to me. I was worshipping and as I sang the words “I’m not enough unless you come. Will you meet me here again?” I could feel my soul be put at rest. At this moment, God knew where I needed to be met and found me there, suddenly.
There have been many moments in my life where I have thought like Antonio; that I will get all the answers as soon as I know Christ at a certain level or get rid of a certain sin, but that is not who God is. God is sudden in the little moments. There is no big revelation, not for Paul, not for Jesus even. Instead, in my life, I have learned that God provides small sudden revelations that conform me to the image of Christ a little more in each trial. God changes us, but God never leaves us finished, because there is always room to grow. Now, writing this, I am at peace with the knowledge that I cannot control when God gives me knowledge, discernment, or revelation. Sometimes it takes patience, even though it’s hard, and trust that God’s plan is perfect and I am walking in the path to knowing Christ.
Ethan Hooper is a first year in Pennypacker.