By Charlie Johnston
Fairly frequently people ask me for specific details, precise timelines or prophetic concordances of how things will come – and even for their own particular situations. I usually don’t know such details and even more frequently can’t say. This is not out of mulishness, but primarily because even if I could, it would not help and, in fact, might do much harm.
Think of a commander preparing his troops for an anticipated desperate battle on the morn. If a soldier asked who exactly would attack him, what angle the opponent would attack him from, and at what precise time he should expect that opponent to reach him, the commander would not only be unable to answer, but would fear that this particular soldier was doomed. God revokes no one’s free will, neither yours nor the enemy’s for this battle. Often, the enemy will come at you at a time, in a place and in a way you do not expect. He will do – and has done – the same to me. I cannot give you a scripted narrative of the battle. If I could, I would not unless I knew with certainty the enemy’s free will had been completely revoked.
Such a scripted narrative, were it possible, would not only be useless, it would be terribly dangerous; probably deadly. It would persuade you that you know what you are doing, but as soon as the unexpected happens you would lose your faith, at best, or even be mortally wounded. It is not detailed information that is necessary to navigate the battle, but certain habits of mind and heart.
Here are three such habits necessary to begin well:
- Humility: The first thing you must settle on is that you do not know near as much as you think you do. Men far more knowledgeable than you or than me in the law, in Scripture and in prophecy have routinely used that knowledge to prove that the saints who were around them were not saints at all, that even as prophecy unfolded before them it was contrary to Scripture, and that Jesus, Himself, could not be the Messiah because He just did not match up with their certain knowledge of prophecy, Scripture and the law. It astounds me that despite the most learned and publicly pious of every generation being almost universally wrong in their interpretations and understanding of salvation history unfolding before them, each succeeding generation of the learned does not take from this that they are asking the wrong questions, but is confident anew that they are the special ones who have finally penetrated the mind of God with absolute certainty. And each new generation of the learned and most publicly pious are largely consigned to the ash heap of those who tormented the saints and misled the faithful.
- Discernment: God does not give us prophecy so we know His mind with precise certainty. He gives us prophecy so that we know when to “be still and know that I am God.” Some who hate the faith regularly impute ordinary causes to supernatural events. Others who are given to a religious mania impute supernatural causes to every ordinary event. Both extremes are a failure of discernment. God gives indications so that we recognize His hand behind certain events. We do not then know how those events will unfold, but to wait on Him with alert awareness, ready to act as He guides us. If we deceive ourselves that we know precisely how it must all come down, we depend on our own cleverness and will be, as so many throughout salvation history have been, brought forcefully either to real humility or to ruin. If on the other hand, we pay attention and wait for Him, resolutely acknowledging Him every step of the way, taking the next right step knowing that we can see no further than that and must depend on Him to guide each step and correct any missteps, and resolutely be a sign of hope to those around us, we will have made profitable use of prophecy.
- Trust: This is the most important of the three qualities of mind and heart necessary to cast off into the deep. We will be faced with many things we did not expect. Situations will develop which will look more dire than we thought they could ever be. People we love will go apostate or attack us or the faith – and we will be tempted to deceive ourselves that unless we can find the right words to save them, all will be irretrievably lost. Trust-Do-Love, knowing that the satan will try to pull you into relying on your own talent or cleverness at every step…and that as soon as you do, you have forfeited the grace you won and must start anew. If you do the simple things that you can, never neglecting those little things and never pretending that you can do it all, God’s grace will fill the gaps and come to rest upon you. When things look hopeless, take the next right step. When those you love assail you, take the next right step and be a sign of hope. When you master this, knowing that you will fall and resolve to humbly get right back up when you do, then you shall be a profitable servant in the household of God.
A regular reader named Karen sent me this note which encapsulates what the beginning of trust really is:
I wanted to share what happened today. Every morning I read a short passage of scripture. Today I read in Matthew 18 where it says if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by My heavenly Father.
As I read those words, it occurred to me that although my husband and I have been discussing your postings, and trying to plan accordingly, we hadn’t actually prayed for God’s guidance. I explained to him about the Prayer of Miraculous Trust, and we prayed it together asking for God’s protection from evil and guidance for our family as to where His Perfect Will would place us for this coming Storm.
I then left for daily Mass. The priest is a very young, holy priest who is sort of (in)famous for his meandering and long sermons. However today he gave a 4 sentence homily. It had nothing to do with the readings, but God’s Spirit powerfully used him. He said, “I am thinking of Noah. He followed God’s directions, and what did his neighbors think? They thought he was crazy. But God saved his family and why…because of his TRUST in God.” (And he strongly emphasized the word trust).
When I came home and told my husband he, too, felt it was very unusual and a confirmation from God. I wanted to share this with you. Perhaps you could encourage your readers to pray the prayer for this intention. Maybe they all already have, and I’m a little slow. It seems so obvious, but it hadn’t occurred to me to do so. I feel such a sense of peace that our heavenly Father heard us and is arranging everything perfectly–whatever that turns out to be.
God bless you. You, and all this community, are in my prayers.”
I send you once more to the Prayer of Miraculous Trust, which is a place to ask God what you will, but to give your will over truly to Him and follow Him rather than trying to get Him to follow your lead.