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God wants us to go deep

In a world that daily celebrates its connectivity, we aren’t very connected to the essentials of life. In a world that thinks it has the answers to every question available with a few taps of the fingers and a click on a search engine, we are certainly restless souls with limitless questions. It’s as if we know we need something, but we can’t quite put our fingers on what it is we need. In the restlessness, we search for meaning in the shallows of the peripheral while starving ourselves of the substance of the deep. God wants us to go deep.

We were created to be single-minded about the Lord. We’re hardwired that way. Every buzz and beep and blare of the culture around us can either direct us to the Lord and his purposes or it can distract us from the life we were created to live. John the Baptist — he of locusts and honey and camel hair shirts, the best at Lent before Lent was even a thing — was so single-minded in his pursuit of living as the Lord intended that we’d be wise to look closely at what he did and what he said. Keep reading. I promise I’m not talking about eating insects or wearing scratchy, ill-fitting tunics.

John the Baptist “went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”(Lk 3:3). He had a message and he lived the message. To repent means more than simply saying one is sorry. It’s a resolution to change, to become something new, something that is free of the old sin that splintered our attention away from God. But that change is not something we actually do under our own power. When we live out our baptism, repentance means that we stop doing the things that pull us from God and we lean with all our might into his grace. Our focus shifts from the distractions of the world to the acceptance of the good grace of God.

When we meet him in that grace, giving him full attention, he pours himself into us with remarkable abundance and then we have what we need to overcome the sins. The conversation that we can have with God all day, every day is the prayer that keeps us leaning toward God, continuously accepting his grace in order to live in his will. To become more and more like God — which is what God created us to be — we have to stay connected to God. Prayer is how we do that; simple, silent prayer works just fine. But there is a catch.

There are some things we do every day that work just fine with the background music of continuous prayer. And there are other things we do where it is nearly impossible to keep praying. Notice the difference. Literally take note of it for a few days. Where does prayer feel incongruous with what is happening in your life? Where does the world distract you from your single-minded purpose of paying attention to God in all things? Maybe those distractions and those occasions are where repentance — and the change that accompanies it — needs to happen.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019