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Zapped by God?

Is faith a bolt of lightning or a quiet whisper?

I received the sacrament of confirmation during my sophomore year in high school. I don’t know if that would have happened if not for some sage advice offered to me by my mother just a few weeks before confirmation.

Like most confirmation candidates, I had attended classes, done my homework, gone on retreat and had undertaken a couple of service projects – all as part of my preparation for confirmation. I was reluctant to schedule my final interview in advance of confirmation. Somehow, I had gotten it in my mind that, by that point, I should have had some sort of big “lightning bolt” experience of God’s presence in my life. In all honesty, up to that time in my life, nothing could have been further from the truth. Reflecting on my vast life history at the age of 14, my experience of God seemed pretty mundane – no lightning bolts that I could recall. Instead, it seemed to me that God was being rather quiet in this whole ordeal of preparing for confirmation. My sophomore logic told me that since there had been no bolts of lightning, there was little point in requesting the sacrament until such time that God zapped me, letting me know the time was right.

This whole state of affairs was brought to my mom’s attention when my small group leader for confirmation preparation called to make sure I scheduled my final interview. When asked why I had not yet taken the initiative to do so, I explained my reasoning to my mother. Instead of reading me the riot act, Mom reminded me about what has since become one of my favorite passages in Scripture: (“The angel of the Lord) said (to Elijah), ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

I had allowed doubt to creep into my mind with regard to my readiness to be confirmed. My mom’s well-timed advice helped to dispel that doubt. There have been many times since when I have learned to listen for God’s still voice rather than allowing myself to be distracted by the wind, the earthquake or the fire.

All of us have moments of doubt – is this what I’m truly meant to do with my life? Is this the choice that will be best for everyone involved? What if I don’t do or say anything? All of us have had moments when someone’s well-timed words of advice – often inspired by God – have helped us to overcome that doubt so that we are able to continue growing more deeply in relationship with God and with one another. And so our journey in FAITH continues.