Mitch McVicker reminded me of this story from the life of Mother Teresa when I was having a conversation with him on the weekend after his Louisville concert. It has lodged itself in my imagination and continues to speak to me during Holy week. Here is how Brennan Manning reports the story in his book Ruthless Trust:
When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at "the house of the dying" in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, "And what can I do for you?" Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
"What do you want me to pray for?" she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: "Pray that I have clarity."
She said firmly, "No, I will not do that." When he asked her why, she said, "Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of."
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God."
Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God. Fear of the unknown path stretching ahead of us destroys childlike trust in the Father's active goodness and unrestricted love."
If we could free ourselves from the temptation to make faith a mindless assent to a dusty pawnshop of doctrinal beliefs, we would discover with alarm that the essence of biblical faith lies in trusting God. And, as Marcus Borg has noted, "The first is a matter of the head, the second a matter of the heart. The first can leave us unchanged, the second intrinsically brings change." (quote copied from this page)
By God’s grace, I seek to let go of my “need/demand” for clarity and embrace the life of trust, indeed, the kind of ruthless trust that can only come from the ragamuffin heart.