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What does it really mean to give your life to Christ and trust God? (I of II)

January 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Faith, Fr. Bartunek, God's Will

Dear Father John, I have been grappling a lot lately with spiritual progress, and I think what it boils down to is trust. The whole idea of believing God is with me throughout my day, and even more so, the idea (or need) to turn everything over to Him… But what does that actually look like? How do you get there? I still have to go through the steps/tasks of life as a wife, mother, and other things… What exactly does the giving up of your troubles and the turning over your life to Him look like PRACTICALLY?  I want more than anything for His will to be done in my life… this pure wanting is such an answered prayer, but my greatest prayer right now is to be able to hear His voice and know what His will is. So, my struggle is a bit two fold… On the one hand, I think it comes back to my weak faith (getting stronger all the time, but…) and also, the ability to discern and to hear Him. Do you have any advice for me?

Part I: The Role of Trust

Yes, absolutely – “what it boils down to is trust.” That’s the very core of the spiritual life, of redemption, of friendship with Christ and the ever-growing happiness brought by that friendship. First, I want to try and explain a little bit about why trust is so central. Then in a second post I will try to address some of your practical concerns.

The History of the Universe

We have to start with the history of the universe (sorry). The first period was right after Creation. The human family was living in harmony with God, and therefore with nature and each other. Then the second period began: original sin destroyed that harmony and threw the human family into a fallen world, with a fallen human nature. Suffering, evil, betrayal, frustration, angst… It all started to spread after original sin. The original harmony was shattered, barely a memory. In this midst of this second period of the history of the universe, God decided to save us, to redeem us, to lead us back into his friendship, give us hope for everlasting fulfillment, and forge a new path to Heaven. How did he do it? That’s the story of the Bible, culminating in Christ’s incarnation, passion, resurrection, and establishment of the Church. When this second period is over, we will enter into the third period, the New Heavens and the New Earth, in which suffering and evil are banished forever.

So, if you reflect on this a bit, you will see that the key to the drama is original sin. It separated us from God, and that separation is what Jesus came to reverse. In what did original sin consist? If we can understand that, then we will understand ourselves and our fallen nature, and also the path that Jesus set for our spiritual rehabilitation.

The Black Box in Original Sin

Here is what original sin consisted in, as explained by the Catechism, #397:

Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness…

Did you get that? All sin, all rebellion against and alienation from God, originates in a lack of trust in God’s goodness. The meaning, interior peace, and fulfillment we long for can only come from living in friendship with God, which requires rehabilitating our trust in him. I could write an encyclopedia about this, but for now, let’s move on to Jesus and his role in our lives. God knew that he needed to regain our trust, and he chose to do so through the Incarnation. Jesus is the revelation, the definitive revelation, of God’s totally trustworthy goodness. Jesus is the manifestation of God’s limitless mercy, love, and passionate dedication to you.

Jesus Reveals God’s Trustworthiness

Did you ever wonder, for example, why Jesus had to suffer so much in order to save us?  (Did you see The Passion of the Christ? His suffering was gargantuan!) It’s because he wanted to show us that there is absolutely no limit to his love for us, his mercy towards us. No matter what we do to him – scourge him, betray him, insult him, abandon him, crucify him, through our sins and selfishness – he still loves us; he will never give up on us. And no matter what other people may have done to us, Jesus understands, because he has been there, and so he can walk with us. That’s just one example of the revelation of God’s trustworthiness in Jesus.

And so, the Christian life consists in walking with Jesus through each day and each season, and letting him win over our hearts, letting him teach us about his wisdom, goodness, and power, so that we gradually exercise more and more trust in him, thus rebuilding our friendship with God and the deep meaning and fulfillment that that friendship brings.

Okay, so that’s why you are absolutely right when you say “what it boils down to is trust.” And I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for having given you, through your prayer and reflection, that most important insight!!!

In our next post we will talk about growing in trust.

Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC, ThD

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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  • FrancesAnne

    Ahh, Yes….the journey of learning to Trust…Thank You for centering me today…and this is why Divine Mercy was revealed to us, through St. Faustina…for our times..our world is being drawn to trust in every else other than it’s creator…Blessings..FC

  • suzi

    Thank you Father and Thank you to the Lady for posting this question.
    I wish you all Heaven.

  • Becky Ward

    Fr. John,

    What an amazing job of synthysizing the complex history of our relationship with God!!

    I cannot help but include a link for the soul who asked this question:

    I completed this formation program (Course of study) in September; it’s the only program that I know of that has been designed for lay-people……although there may be many others out there……….this is tailored to each individual and their life’s experiences. By working through this program I have learned what God made me for……….. I know how to discern what His will is for me………and LOTS more. 🙂

    The writer seems to be echoing some of my former struggles/desires so I offer this for whatever assistance it may provide.

    Keep up the GOOD, GOOD work!!

    With much gratitude!!

    God Bless!

  • Stiofan Deburca

    Can we learn anything about Divine Trust from the essentials of human trust in relationships? We differentiate between personal, social and organisational /institutional trust but all fundamentally reflect our experience of others` honesty, integrity, transparency, reliability and confidence that they can/will do what they promise to do. We trust in Jesus when we learn to know and accept Him through Scripture, Reflection, Frequent Conversations of the Heart together with the Sacraments and Service to Others and thereby establish a truly trusting relationship with Him

  • Iowafarmwife

    I agree that we all need to trust God more. What I really struggle with is that I don’t want to cross the line into presumption. I’m not really sure that when I say “Jesus, I trust in you,” that I’m not going to go too far and start presuming on his mercy and goodness.

  • Bot

    I have been pondering this question since reading Abandonment To Divine Providence, and being frustratingly mystified by it! I look forward to part 2 of this essay.

  • This is an amazing post and comes at the perfect time! I too have been praying and writing in my journal about trust for almost two years now. Everything seems to come down to that simple little issue of trust. I started to seek out as much information as I could about the topic of trust and have settled on making acts of trust over and over again in the effort to grow closer to the Lord. I am looking forward to your next post with practical tips!

  • LizEst

    Thank you for this post Father John. I once–but only once–heard a homily preached on this. It needs to be stated more often.

    Regarding “Iowafarmwife’s” comment below, would you please do a post on not slipping into presumption, the dangers of, etc? Heard a priest once say that this is one of the greatest sins in the world today.

  • Abaalman

    I know that is my problem. Am looking forward to your next instruction. I know this will never end until I meet Him in eternity but I appreciate your guidance and encouragement

  • doanli

    I’m so glad this lady asked this question too– I also think I have lack of trust because I fear of what trials He may ask me to endure–and therein goes the trust issue again. A vicious circle I need to pray and work on.

    God have mercy on us.

  • smidge

    I can say I trust God with all my heart & soul. I don’t pray for God to take away anything from my life(I will pray for others @their request). However everyone tells me I am wrong!! They say because Jesus prayed for the cup to be removed that indicates I too must pray for things to go away/pass. Why must I do this prayer for my life circumstances if I know GOD knows what is happening & I trust HIS wisdom for my life? What happened to “offer it up” ? We all our catholics ,PLEASE give me advice!

  • Trevor

    Hi Father John
    You were in Calgary in the fall of 2010 at a Clearwater Academy sponsored Men’s Leadership Breakfast. You spoke of a CEO who started his day with prayer and writing 3 or 4 specific items to focus his prayers and his day. I started but felt overwhelmed. Could you share those 3 or 4 items to help me keep it simple? I thank you.

  • Maren

    Thank you for this post…I am learning to understand the trust and peace I feel within my heart through your explinations. – Maren

  • Guest

    Father John, you can take this question as coming from me, too. That has been my daily struggle. But gladly since I joined the Eucharistic Apostolate of the Divine Mercy and the weekly Cenacle Meeting we hold, I am beginning to learn, but oh so slowly, what Jesus wants from us. The Signature of His Divine Mercy Image is such a wonderful Prayer. But I am also thankful to Totus2us. He has mentioned what I always fear which makes me unable to trust myself and leaves me wondering if I shall be able to hear the small voice of Providence guiding me. And that is slipping into presumption or self-delution. So am eagerly looking forward to your next Post. Please expound on how one can avoid this very dangerous pitfall which is very real as I struggle to walk along this Spiritual Journey to Eternity. Thank you so much and God bless you all on this Website

  • Cynthia

    Dear Fr. John,
    Just his week I have been meditating on a passage in Abandonment to Divine Providence (p76) that addresses the issue of a 3rd type of duty, that of “obeying these promptings with which God moves all of us who are submissive to him.” Caussade goes on to say the “we must also respond at once to the breath of grace. We must let ourselves go, ready and eager to obey our impulses, for God never fails to give us guidance to tell us what ew may accept or reject among these influences.” As I understand this way of living out our life in Christ, we must very simply trust that what we are experiencing as God’s leading in our lives is indeed from Him. It’s a kind of quiet knowing in our souls and it comes with a peace that leads us foward or a check that causes us to stop and reconsider where He is leading us. It’s a day in and day out kind of comfortable listening to the leading of the Lord. Without trust it would be impossible to live this kind of life. We can’t doubt every whisper, fearful of whether or not each little tug is from God or our flesh or of the devil. If we are surrendered in our hearts and surrounding ourselves with spritual reading and good direction, constantly in prayer and in God’s Word, I believe that we can trust that the Holy Spirit is guarding and guiding us according to His most perfect and beautiful will! It’s a wonderful way to live…even if we don’t always know what God is about or if His way is not to our liking. It’s His constant companionship in this moment by moment listening for His leading that becomes so very precious in the whirlwind of activity that this life offers. I look forward to your next post!

    • Flgrannie70

      “moment by moment” SO IMPORTANT!
      Thanks for the reminder.
      and LISTEN!

  • Ramonabelcher

    Fr. Bartunek,
    Another amazing lesson!
    Thank you,
    St. Patrick Stoneham,MA

  • PianoLaura

    I have been reading this site for 2-3 months now and I feel so moved to write finally. What a gift this post is! Why, just this morning the celebrant at mass spoke of trusting in the Lord and even yesterday I wondered if maybe I needed to explore this issue of trust more. Yeah, so it all comes together and I am walking around in this constant state of faith renewal – a state of hope and love and trust. A realization that I am free and on fire to rehabilitate my relationship with God. To spend real, quality time with him in prayer and cultivate the greatest gift of all – his friendship. That He is waiting and thirsting for me to respond to his call and that it all goes back to the “beginning of time”. It is like falling in love all over again:) Wow. Thank you! Praise God and thank you Fr. John for your discipleship.

    • Jesusbpraised

      Isn’t God’s work beautiful!!! It is such a joy to see! God bless you, Laura. Remain in His love.

  • $1650412


    Where can I place my advanced order for a copy? ;o)

  • Nv

    I found this posting very appropriate to what is being discussed here…

    • Becky Ward

      Great article…………thanks for sharing!

  • defiant12314

    Dear Father

    How am so supposed to trust a God who placed me in the care of an abusive family and cursed me with Autism, yet gives someone like St. Therese a really good family and excellent health?

    • Dear Jack – as one who has experienced great physical and emotional suffering I can assure you that God is trustworthy. The issue is what we are trusting him to do or not to do. If we are trusting him to do something he has not promised, then our trust is presumption and will only yield more suffering and disappointment. If we are trusting him to do what he has promised, then our trust is warranted and will be rewarded with his faithfulness. With respect to St. Therese, she was very ill and suffered profoundly both physically and emotionally during her life. The right question is, “Will I seek to understand what he has promised and then will I yield myself to his everlasting and ever-faithful care?

    • $1650412

      Here is a link for a really great video by another Legionary priest talking about God’s trustworthiness:

    •  The Good Lord knew how strong your soul was made, he made it and that is why he allowed those things in your life. He knew you we destined to see his face, who he is! You see, this war in heaven where satan calls our Father a liar and judges his right to rule humans, is kind of like a student that challenges his teacher. There were already 1/3 of the angels that turned also because of satan the father of lies. The Wise Teacher allowed him(satan) to make his point to all of creation(class), to allow them to choose which way they would allow their souls to go. Then after they make their choice the Good Teacher will kick satan and all of the other trouble makers out, as to not disturb the students that were choosing to learn. Hope I am making this clear! Satan pushed those things in your life, but you and the rest of creation were being tested. Scripture says that God is not able to lie, it says nothing bad can come from him! Those circumstances just testifies to you and him, how trusting and loving of him you are. Forgiveness is the key hon! Forgiveness of all, including yourself. Love bears all things! Our father calls us to Love, he is love. He forgave with no boundaries, except lying about who he was and denying his gift (blaspheming the Holy Spirit), and we should also be so forgiving. Hope this helps yous some how, but I would advise to try to get to know him, before you turn him away. Don’t judge a book by its cover. We do this through his word the Bible. Greatest love story ever told and you get to be in it! I will be praying for you 🙂 God bless

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