I read a lot of biographies and memoirs about inspiring peoplewho place radical trust in God. (By “radical” I don’t mean reckless or imprudent, but am referring to the difficult, very counter-cultural act of recognizing God’s sovereignty over every area of our lives.
More on that here.) From He Leadeth Me to God’s Smuggler, Mother Angelica to The Heavenly Man to The Shadow of His Wings, these true stories are about people from all walks of the Christian life: Catholic and Protestant, consecrated religious and lay people, men and women. And yet they all have distinct similarities in their approaches to life and the Lord.
I found it fascinating to see what common threads could be found in the lives of these incredible people who place so much trust in the Lord, and thought I’d share in case others find it inspiring as well.
1. THEY ACCEPT SUFFERING
One of the most powerful things I’ve read in recent memory is Brother Yun’s story of being a persecuted pastor in China, as recounted in the book The Heavenly Man. After facing weeks of torture, including electrocution, starvation, beatings, and having needles shoved under his fingernails, he was thrown in a box that was four feet long, three feet wide, and four feet high, where he would stay indefinitely. The day after he was put in this mini cell, he felt prompted to pray for a Bible — a ridiculous idea, considering that many people were in prison at that very moment for being in possession of such contraband. Yet he prayed anyway. And, inexplicably, the guards threw a Bible into his cell the next morning. He writes:
I knelt down and wept, thanking the Lord for this great gift. I could scarcely believe my dream had come true! No prisoner was ever allowed to have a Bible or any Christian literature, yet, strangely, God provided a Bible for me! Through this incident the Lord showed me that regardless of men’s evil plans for me, he had not forgotten me and was in control of my life.
Now, the less saintly among us (cough-cough) might have reacted to that a little differently. Had I been tortured and thrown in a coffin-like cell, my reaction to receiving a Bible would have likely been more along the lines of, “Thanks for the Bible, Lord, but could we SEE ABOUT GETTING ME OUT OF THIS METAL BOX FIRST?!?!” I wouldn’t have even “counted” the Bible as an answered prayer since my main prayer — reducing my physical suffering — had gone unanswered.
Yet what I see over and over again in people like Brother Yun is that they have crystal clarity on the fact that suffering is not the worst evil — sin is. Yes, they would prefer not to suffer, and do sometimes pray for the relief of suffering. But they prioritize it lower than the rest of us do — they focus far more on not sinning than on not suffering. They have a laser focus on getting themselves and others to heaven. In Brother Yun’s case, he saw through that answered prayer that God was allowing him to grow spiritually and minister to his captors, so his circumstances of suffering in an uncomfortable cell became almost irrelevant to him.
2. THEY ACCEPT THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH
Similar to the above, people who place great trust in God can only do so with a heaven-centered worldview. They think in terms of eternity, not in terms of calendar years. Their goal is not to maximize their time on earth, but rather to get themselves and as many other people as possible to heaven. And if God can best do that by shortening their lifespans, they accept that.
The Shadow of His Wings is filled with jaw-dropping stories of Fr. Goldmann’s miraculous escapes from death during World War II, which begs the question, “What about all the people who didn’t escape death?” Fr. Goldmann would probably respond by saying that God saving him from death was not the blessing in and of itself — after all, every single one of us will die eventually. The blessing was saving him from death so that he could continue his ministry bringing the Gospel to the Nazis. He eventually died while building a ministry in Japan, and presumably accepted that God would bring good from his passing, even though there was undoubtedly more work he wanted to do.
3. THEY HAVE DAILY APPOINTMENTS WITH GOD
I have never heard of a person who had a deep, calm trust in the Lord who did not set aside time for focused prayer every day. Both in the books I’ve read and in real life, I’ve noticed that people like this always spend at least a few moments — and up to an hour or two if circumstances permit — focused on nothing but prayer, every day. Also, they tend to do it first thing in the morning, centering themselves in Christ before tackling anything else the day may bring.
4. IN PRAYER, THEY LISTEN MORE THAN THEY TALK
I’ve written before about my amazement that really holy people seem to get their prayers answered more often than the rest of us. I’d heard enough stories of people praying for something very specific, then receiving it, that I started to wonder if they were psychic or God just liked them more than the rest of us or something. What I eventually realized is that their ideas about what to pray for came from the Holy Spirit in the first place, because they spent so much time seeking God’s will for them, day in and day out.
So, to use the example of a famous story from Mother Angelica’s biography, she had a satellite dish delivery man at the door who needed $600,000 or he was going to return the dish, thus killing all the plans for the new station. She ran to the chapel and prayed, and a guy she’d never met randomly called and wanted to donate $600,000. Her prayer wasn’t answered because she had a personal interest in television and just really, really wanted it, but because she had correctly discerned God’s plan that she was to start a television station on this particular day.
5. THEY LIMIT DISTRACTIONS
Of all the amazing stories in God’s Smuggler, one of the lines that jumped out to me the most in the book was in the epilogue, when the authors talk about how Brother Andrew’s work has continued in 21st century:
“I won’t even consider installing one of those call waiting monstrosities,” he exclaimed, “that interrupt one phone conversation to announce another.” Technology, Andrew says, makes us far too accessible to the demands and pressures of the moment. “Our first priority should be listening in patience and silence for the voice of God.”
Far too accessible to the demands and pressures of the moment. That line has haunted me ever since I read it. I love technology, but it does come with a huge temptation to feel a general increase in urgency in our lives: I have to reply to that email! Respond to that comment on my wall on Facebook! Ret-tweet that tweet! Read that direct message! Listen to that voicemail! Here in the connected age, we are constantly bombarded with demands on our attention. Periods of silence, where we can cultivate inner stillness and wait for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, are increasingly rare.
One thing that all the people in these books have in common is that they had very little of this pressure of false urgency. It’s hard to imagine Fr. Ciszek coming up with the breathtaking insights about God’s will that he shared in He Leadeth Me with his iPhone buzzing alerts every few minutes, or Brother Yun seeing the subtle beauty of God’s plan in the midst of persecution while keeping his Twitter status updated on a minute-by-minute basis.
6. THEY SUBMIT THEIR DISCERNMENT TO OTHERS
People who have a long history of watching the way the Lord works in their lives notice that he often speaks through holy friends, family members and clergy. If they discern that God is calling them to something, especially if it’s something big, they ask trusted Christian confidantes to pray about the matter and see if they discern the same thing. And when others warn them not to follow a certain path — especially if it’s a spouse, confessor or spiritual director — they take those indicators very seriously.
7. THEY OFFER THE LORD THEIR COMPLETE, UNHESITATING OBEDIENCE
One of my favorite parts of God’s Smuggler is when Brother Andrew got a visit from a man named Karl de Graaf who was part of a prayer group in which people often spent hours of time in prayer, most of it listening in silence:
I went out to the front stoop, and there was Karl de Graaf. “Hello!” I said, surprised.
“Hello, Andy. Do you know how to drive?”
“No,” I said, bewildered. “No, I don’t.”
“Because last night in our prayers we had a word from the Lord about you. It’s important for you to be able to drive.”
“Whatever on earth for?” I said. “I’ll never own a car, that’s for sure.”
“Andrew,” Mr. de Graaf spoke patiently, as to a slow-witted student, “I’m not arguing for the logic of the case. I’m just passing on the message.” And with that, he was striding across the bridge.
Despite his initial hesitation, Brother Andrew discerned that this was something that God was calling him to do, so he learned to drive. It seemed like a complete waste of time, an utterly illogical use of his resources, but he was obedient to the Lord’s call. I won’t spoil what happened next for those of you who plan to read the book, but let’s just say that shortly after he received his license, it turned out to be critical to the future of his ministry (which eventually brought the Gospel to thousands of people behind the Iron Curtain) that he know how to drive.
I often think of how Mr. de Graaf responded when Brother Andrew was scratching his head about this odd message: “That’s the excitement in obedience,” he said. “Finding out later what God had in mind.”
Obviously we can’t grow closer to God by aping the actions of others, but I find lists like this helpful as a starting point for reflection on my own spiritual progress. I hope you found it helpful as well!
Some days our minds have a difficult time understanding God’s plan. At least that’s true for me. I’m guessing it’s true for you too. We want so desperately to “get it all.” To see God’s plan for the future. To understand how it is all going to work out right here on this earth. In this decade. Or this year. Or this week. Or this second.
I can’t see the future. Although my kids might argue with that statement a bit. After all, they think I have eyes in the back of my head.
When I can’t understand God’s plan, there is a question I find myself asking:
Where is God in all this?
The more I’ve been reflecting on this question recently, the more I’ve realized that the problem is not where God is.
Because God is everywhere.
The problem is that I’m asking the wrong question. You see, the question I should be asking is:
Why can’t I see God in this?
Because His fingerprints are all over His handiwork. Even when bad things happen to good people, He molds and reshapes until you can’t even recognize the bad anymore. It’s a plan called “redemption.”
So I’ve stopped asking God where He is. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that He’s been here since before the beginning of time and He’s not going anywhere. The Alpha and Omega.
I’ve started asking Him to reveal Himself to me.
Lord, help me see Your work in this situation.
I pray prayers like this one for when you can’t understand God’s plan.
And I am reminded to trust the Creator of the universe through these 14 Bible verses for when I can’t understand God’s plan.
So I thought I would share them with you.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Ps. 8:3&4
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? (this is God questioning Job) Job 38:35&36
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. Isa. 45:18
But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:28
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, Deut. 7:9
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. Ps. 48:14
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Isa. 40:28
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Ps. 111:10
Do you have a Bible verse you could share that helps you understand God’s plan when you can’t? Would love it if you’d leave it in the comments.
Author: Rachel Wojnarowski
What exactly is the “Law of Attraction”? What’s all the buzz about?
From watching movies like The Secret, people may falsely assume the Law of Attraction is just a series of techniques you can use when you want to manifest something. You use the technique, you manifest what you want.
Though it is true that there are techniques you can use to manifest the life of your dreams, it’s important to remember that everything you do is manifesting. It’s not just about the things you do on purpose, it’s about the way you think, talk, and live your entire life.
When you realize this, it becomes much more apparent that using the Law of Attraction isn’t just about “techniques” or “tricks.” It’s a lifestyle – an empowered way of living your life.
It is my hope that these 7 simple hacks will help you easily and effectively manifest the dreams and goals that you have for yourself.
1. Start Your Day with Positivity
The morning, right when you are waking up, is a magical time for your mind. As you are waking up and putting yourself together for the day, your mind is making a big transition from the unconscious, abstract world of sleeping and dreaming to the more rational, concrete reality of day-to-day life. What you are thinking, feeling, and believing during this time has a profound rippling effect on your entire day.
Starting the day with a positive affirmation is one of the absolute best things you can do for yourself!
As soon as you wake up, declare positivity into the day! Bless it. Find something to be grateful for and focus on it. Instill your intention (for peace, positivity, abundance – whatever it may be) into your subconscious mind to instantly start finding reasons for the day to be fantastic!
The morning is also a great time to do spiritual practices like yoga or meditation, or to at least give yourself a little dose of something you love, whether it’s music, creative writing, that cup of coffee or tea, or some extra snuggle time with your cat.
2. Balancing the Scale
No matter who you are or what you do, you are always going to encounter a certain degree of negativity throughout your day as you interact with the world and feel it interacting with you.
Understand that you do not become a master of the Law of Attraction by avoiding negativity to the point that you are in denial. Yes, we always do what we can do to stay in a positive environment and think positive thoughts, but sometimes we must also jump into the mud and get some work done. No mud, no lotus.
Fortunately for us, positive thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are much, much stronger than negative ones. What this means is that you can help balance the scale of what you are manifesting throughout your day-to-day life by taking just a few minutes (ideally around 10) each day to intentionally think only positive thoughts.
By taking the time to do this every day, whether by writing it down on paper, or visualizing happy thoughts, events, and memories in your mind, you will rapidly begin to notice a turning of the scale in how many positive things and events find their way into your life. You attract what you emit, so be consciously aware of the type of thoughts you are emitting.
3. Give Yourself the Present Moment
Take a break from the constant stream of thoughts running through the mind (in yoga this is called “chitta vritti” – mind chatter, or the “monkey mind”) by bringing yourself back to the present moment. Being fully present drastically accelerates the progression of the manifestation process. In the present moment one can truly find peace, and deeply authentic joy. And it is this that will truly manifest the happiness, fulfillment and abundance that we crave at the depth of our being – and not the objects, money, events, or other external things that we tend to latch onto. True happiness is a STATE, not an external object, event, or circumstance.
To begin practicing presence, simply take 1-2 minute breaks several times throughout your day to just stop, breathe, let go of the mind for a second, and enjoy the richness of what is going on now. The more often you do this, the more you will grow accustomed to the acquired taste of “nowness,” and the more you will begin to realize how pleasurable your life really is.
4. The Magical Question
Before you lay down to go to sleep, there is one very simple and magical question that you can ask yourself that has the potential to refocus your mind, both at the conscious and subconscious level, on gratitude, blessings, and goodness.
By asking ourselves the right questions, we elicit responses in the deeper parts of our mind that make a HUGE difference in what we manifest in our day-to-day lives.
The question is this: What was the best thing that happened to me today?
The fact that it is a question is powerful in and of itself, because a question encourages the subconscious mind to answer it. By asking ourselves the right questions, we elicit responses in the deeper parts of our mind that make a HUGE difference in what we manifest in our day-to-day lives.
That’s it. I often times find that when I ask myself this question, my mind goes to situations and events that I may have completely forgotten about throughout the day. Little things that have meaning pop up out of the mental noise, and what was right and happy and good becomes the primary focus again.
5. Learn to Access the Slower Brainwave States
The secret of accessing slower brainwave states has been known and utilized by sages, mystics, and shamans across all time periods, disciplines, and parts of the world. I personally believe that this is the key ingredient in manifesting what you want into the world. This secret is “the secret behind the secret.”
The modern theory is that these slower brainwave states (alpha, theta, delta) enable the conscious mind to more clearly communicate with the subconscious mind. This means that when you are in these states, what you consciously think, visualize, and feel will more quickly and powerfully program the subconscious to manifest these things into being. The slower the brainwave state, the faster the mind has the ability to act upon the subconscious to create in the physical realm.
The most effective way to give yourself unlimited, effortless access to these states is through the use of brainwave entrainment technology. Brainwave Entrainment is the process of synchronizing the brain to specific frequencies and patterns embedded in audio tracks. These frequencies correlate to specific emotions, feelings, and even energy levels. If you are looking to master this skill, I’d recommend trying a full-fledged brainwave entrainment meditation program. You can check out my bio below, or visit my website at brainwavelove.com to learn more.
6. Ask Yourself Positive “What If?” Questions to Improve Your Mood
Positive questions greatly help you leverage your emotional state, and often times work much better than positive affirmations in the form of a statement. Questions open the door to possibility. When you are feeling terrible, just try asking yourself “what if?” questions that end on a positive note.
Here are some examples:
What if this all works out exactly how I want it to, or better?
What if the reason things are the way they are is because this is what needs to happen for me to achieve my goals?
What if this is all a misunderstanding and everything is actually completely ok?
What if I go home and forget all about this, and it solves itself?
What if that attractive person over there is fantasizing about me right now?
What if I come by that money I need in the most unexpected way?
7. Learn How to Breathe
“What?! But I’ve been breathing my whole life! I think I know how to do that…”
The breath is one of the strangest bodily functions because it can be completely operated by the conscious mind, or handed over to the unconscious mind and forgotten about. Learning to play with your breath consciously is a HUGE key to becoming more conscious of everything else in both your body and mind. The breathing patterns we unconsciously use from moment to moment, day to day, directly affect our physical health, our thoughts, and our emotions. These patterns also affect our subtle energy flow that can further affect every aspect of our physical, mental, and spiritual reality.
All of this can be “upgraded” and used to your advantage by learning yogic breathing techniques (Pranayama) and practicing throughout the day. Even taking a moment each day to bring your attention to the breath and take full, deep belly breaths will create a powerful change in your life. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to try it for yourself.
If you don’t know where to start with this, begin just by committing to taking 3 breaks each day to simply breathe deeply for a few minutes. You may be amazed at the results!
You know what the best thing about all of these tips is? They all take minimal effort, yet they yield a high return in results. Remember that you can pick any of these hacks to help get the Law of Attraction results you want in your life. But whichever practice you choose, it is important that you practice it consistently!
One last tip about all of this is that it takes approximately 20-30 days of daily practice for the brain to build a new neural pathway. Why not take these tips and turn them into habits, rather than things you do occasionally? Using the Law of Attraction is much more akin to the way water carves its way into rock. It’s the consistency or frequency of the practice, and the accumulation of this consistency that will get you what you want.
I encourage you again to be consistent! And in so doing, watch your full potential manifest the life of your dreams.