By Mark Azzara
I am feeling a little guilty lately because of something very simple. I can’t read enough. I manage to glance most days at The New York Times’ daily email summary, and maybe once in a while select a tempting article to read there or somewhere else.
But there is no time to go through the vast array of news I face every day. Nor is there time to wade through all the great books being published these days, or even all the unread books that now gather dust in my bookcase or on a side table where they have been strategically placed so I will devour them one by one. And thus I remain, to some extent, uninformed.
I am not psychoanalyzing myself. I simply don’t have whatever I would need – the time, energy, passion, mental capacity, etc. – to become fully informed and then to take up the sword of righteousness by doing my utmost to make things right in the world.
Some will say that my words are just a cheap excuse for avoiding any sacrifice, any call to greater involvement. But my faith dictates that I am not meant to know everything, let alone make everything right. That’s God’s job.
I must heed Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
I’m not big on obligatory service that is supposed to do good because well-meaning obligation can unwittingly lead me to do evil.
I remember a friend who had been a “candy-striper” (a/k/a hospital volunteer). She quit after about a decade and asked God to forgive her, telling him, “I just can’t do this anymore.” And then she was shocked by God’s answer, “I never asked you to do it in the first place.”
I am trying to connect more deeply to the God who is love. The God whose voice I can hear. Only when you really know someone do you know who they are and what they want. And only then can you provide it. I want to know this God who loves me so that I serve him out of love.
I need God to teach me who I am, strange as that may sound, which means showing me I am not yet the person he envisions me to be. I need to know who I am so I can understand my relationship with God. But part of learning who I am meant to be means allowing God to tell me who I am not meant to be.
Those who think they don’t need God to inform and empower them become their own “god.” But none of us is God. And thank God for that. How thoughtful of God to offer to teach us who really is God. How kind. How forgiving.
All God’s blessings – Mark
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Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, “And So Are You.” He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut.