There are so many voices in the world today shouting at us that at times it can be deafening. One of the most common complaints I hear as a priest is, “Father, I can’t hear God speak to me.” What if I told you that it is possible to hear God’s voice? What if I told you that he speaks every day, all the time, and if you follow a couple simple rules, you will slowly realize that you are not as alone as you thought you were?
Most people will claim that the major problem so many of us struggle with in the modern day and age is our weaknesses. However, I would argue that it is not our weaknesses that hold us back. In fact, it is our greatness that holds us back…that deafens us to God’s voice.
Jesus tells us this when he references the prophet Isaiah in Matthew’s Gospel. He says:
“Listen as you will, you will not understand, look intently as you will, you shall not see. Sluggish indeed is this people’s heart. They have scarcely heard with their ears, they have firmly closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (Mt 13:15)
Jesus wants us to go into the deep! What does he want us to see? The greatness of the spiritual journey! What does he want us to hear? That it will take our whole being, every ounce of who we are. Will we shrink back from the greatest offer on earth? Or will we fall headlong into the arms of a God who desires everything that is good for us? In short, will we provide for ourselves out of fear, or will we allow God to provide for us in trusting love?
When I was in seminary in Rome, we had a retreat that was located at a retreat house on the Mediterranean coast. I loved to swim in the ocean and had been given some old, cheap snorkeling equipment. I had the opportunity to go snorkeling in the shallow area of the ocean in a cove during the retreat. There was a great rock wall that had been built to break the large waves coming in off the ocean. This was a perfect little place to explore the ocean floor.
After about an hour I had this desire to climb over the rock wall and snorkel in the actual ocean. As I got into the water (with great difficulty and much effort), I soon realized that I was in a dangerous place…I could no longer see the ocean floor. To be honest, I freaked out, climbed back over the rock wall and spent the rest of my time in the shallow area—where it was safe.
This story shows us why sanctity is so hard to come by in the modern world. We like to see the bottom. We like to be in control. And we hate not seeing where we are going! But this is what makes life exciting; to be led by God to places we never dreamed of! To let go of our plans
and let God’s plan
rule our lives. The voices of the world tell us to stay on the shore; that it is too dangerous to go out into the deep. But Jesus calls us into the deep. That is where He is found, where the spiritual journey begins. Will you climb over the rock wall and put out into the deep?
Fr. Waltz is director of vocations for the Bismarck Diocese. His column, “Into the Deep,” which will be written quarterly, will discuss topics on prayer and discernment. He currently resides at St. Joseph’s Hall on the campus of the University of Mary in Bismarck.