Trust on the threshold

What it means to believe in God beyond thinking we do - trusting enough to open the door. (Photo by Ryan LeBlanc)

Of course, I believe in God. Don’t I?

By Ryan LeBlanc

“It sounds as if you don’t really believe you have been called and chosen.”

My wife and I were on a walk. She had been listening to me being angry.

And then, her words brought me up short.

At first, I had to process what seemed to be obvious falsehood. Of course, I really believe. Of course, I read in the Bible that I am called, and I experience God’s presence choosing me.

“Do I, though?” said that quiet voice in my heart.

Let us admit it together: we do not always believe God has chosen to dwell with us. In fact, I would say most of us live as if we doubt it, most of the time. The Scriptures are stuffed with firm assurances that this is true, the Sacraments are direct experiences of this reality, and every moment and encounter of our lives offers us this same veiled beauty.

But each of us, maybe especially us ‘churchy folk’, will find ourselves stomping out our desolation at some point, chuntering around in circles until someone loving intervenes.

I remember vividly the moment my career as a professional educator began, twenty years ago. My very first paid day as a substitute teacher. It had been a long and difficult journey to get there, but that morning I found myself unable to begin. Maybe today I would describe myself as so excited to start the adventure that I didn’t know how to get going. But in that moment, I wrestled with the anxiety and panic that had challenged my formation so powerfully. Desperate, I called out the prayer that had accompanied me through so many of these moments.

“Jesus, I trust in You.”

But the door to my career was right in front of me, and it remained closed.

Of course I do, I wanted to say to my wife on our walk. Of course I believe, I trust, I know that God is faithful, powerful, present. He loves me. It’s everything else in the world that I don’t trust!

I don’t trust people who might let me down. I don’t trust systems built on false values. I don’t trust the ebb and flow of fortune. I don’t trust myself.

But I trust in God, for sure. Don’t I?

Hmmm, said my wife.

If I believed that God called upon me, as an imperfect person among imperfect people, to bring his faithful healing into our hurtful world, would my peace be so disturbed? If I believed that God has chosen me, a weak individual in a broken society, to proclaim good news, would my fear and anger gnaw at me so much?

Surely, if God has called me, it means his wisdom has foreseen victory over the challenges around me and within me. And certainly, if God has chosen me, he would not withhold his almighty power to watch over and enable me to walk his good path.

That means that to trust God is specifically to trust that he is at work in my life, in all the mess and conflict and confusion, even and especially when I do not see how he is at work. In the very situations that drive me crazy, God is already at work.

I said, “It seems that right now I do not trust that God knows what he is about.”

Yeah, if I don’t believe God is big and smart enough to work through fallen, sinful people, in our broken, failing history, I don’t really trust him. If I think I’m perceptive and judicious enough to see problems that God just cannot solve unless I worry about them, where is my faith?

We kept walking in silence for a while. I had to take the time to let my emotions finish, to let my false beliefs dissipate, to let the wind go without chasing after it.

I didn’t feel lighter. I didn’t feel guilty. I just knew more deeply that it takes work and intention to believe in a God who loves us – me and the world – so much and so patiently. So I tried to work at that.

Twenty years ago, on the threshold of becoming a teacher, I prayed that I trusted in Jesus, while I stared at a door that I just couldn’t seem to get through. I meant that I trusted him to guide me through the future on the other side of it, a future I did not know and could not control.

“Then prove it,” God said.

I opened the door.


Ryan LeBlanc is the Teacher Chaplain and Catholic Studies Department Head at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon. He is also discerning the permanent diaconate in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.