July 1, 2011 – In God We Trust

Today was a rather anxious day for me because I had a doctor’s appointment.  It was nothing out of the ordinary, just the regular check-up, but for some reason I still get a little on edge when these days roll around.  I think I can trace this “phobia” of doctor visits back to my early childhood.  Longtime Chester residents probably remember a dentist by the name of Dr. Gualdoni.  I’m sure he was a nice man, but the experience of having to see this dentist for a 5 year old was simply frightful.  When you walked into the waiting room the first thing you saw wasn’t a stack of magazines or a game to play with – it was a skull that had turned yellow with age.  This was just a primer for what was to come.  When it was time to go into the chair, here came the dentist with his little glasses that set on the tip of his nose, holding his dental instrument in his hand that shook just enough to make you leary, and in his growly voice proclaimed “OPEN WIDE”!  Now as a little kid you weren’t really sure what was going to happen next, but you knew that it would involve pain and blood.

My medical doctor when I was a child was Dr. Newmark, again someone that longtime Chesterites probably know.  I’m sure he was a nice man, but again he was, how do I put it nicely, past his prime years, and as a toddler hearing him trying to keep the doses straight, you weren’t sure exactly what was coming, but you knew it would involve needles and pain.  Now I am not a psychiatrist, but I think I can trace my apprehension of doctor’s visits to these experiences of yesteryear.  Call me a wimp, a pansy, whatever you like – I wear these badges proudly.  BTW – my doctor’s visit went well, so you’ll be stuck with me a while longer.

Anyway, when these days come around I try to tell myself to just leave things in God’s hands and everything will be fine.  And as a Christian, this is the core of my faith.  As I talked about a little while back, the Pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Joplin, as the tornado approached his rectory, simply prayed “thy will be done” as he climbed into his bathtub for safety, and he came out unharmed.  If you are a Rams fan, you may also recall that a few years back star wide receiver Issac Bruce was driving back to St. Louis from Columbia, MO when he lost control of his car.  As the car was about to overturn, he said that he shouted “Jesus” and even though his car was totaled, he came out of the wreck unscathed.

Is it always this simple?  No, of course not.  And that is why at times it is frustrating and confusing to be a Christian.  We try to live by God’s word, we attend church regularly, we give of our time, talent, and treasure, yet there are times when we call on the Lord and we don’t hear an answer to our call.  Even though we know in the back of our minds that God has our best interests in mind, we still are disappointed when we don’t get the outcome that we want in different situations.

One of my favorite movies is Bruce Almighty.  In the movie Bruce, who is a news reporter from Buffalo, becomes angry at God because things just aren’t going his way.  He loses out on a job promotion, his car breaks down, he can’t get his dog house-trained, etc., and so he becomes very angry at God and blames Him for all that is going wrong in his life.  So God appears to him and basically gives him all of His powers for a while.  Bruce quickly uses the powers to his advantage by destroying the career of the person who was promoted ahead of him, getting himself a sleek sports car, etc.  He then starts hearing these voices in his head.  God informs him that these are prayers and that he needs to answer them.  The prayers keep piling up more and more, so he simply says “yes” to all of them.  This works for a while – record numbers of people win the lottery, everyone’s stocks go through the roof, people lose weight on the Krispy Kreme diet, etc.   However, circumstances change and the world becomes chaiotic, and in the process Bruce loses his girlfriend.  Bruce realizes in the end that God truly does know what is best for all of us.

This weekend we celebrate the day when we declared ourselves an independent nation.  Like most holidays, we seem to have lost the true meaning of the observance.  In fact, most people do not even refer to it as Independence Day, but simply the 4th of July.  We forget about the courage that our ancestors showed in declaring themselves free from the seemingly iron hand of British rule and defeating the British in the war that followed.  We also forget the fact that these men put their trust in God when they decided upon their course of action.  In fact there are several references to God in the Declaration of Independence.  It may be a good idea for us sometime between the fireworks and food to read the Declaration to get a sense of the atmosphere at the time and to see the great undertaking that these heroic men were setting themselves up for.  Here is a link to read the Declaration:

www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

We of course still use the motto “In God We Trust” on our currency.  Sadly, to many people I think this has become just a motto with little or no meaning.  In fact, if some groups had their way, the motto would be eliminated all together.  My suggestion to them would be to brush up on some of their history and read some of these documents written during the time of the Revolution, and see that the colonists had the courage not only to fight the British, but to place their trust in God in the process.  It serves as a reminder for us Christians as well to keep our faith in God even during those times when we don’t feel He is answering all of our prayers – to know that God is telling all of us to “trust me.”

Have a safe, enjoyable weekend.  My Cardinals have looked better the last few games, so there may be some worthwhile baseball to watch this weekend after all.  Peace.

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