Look to the Lord, Not the Navel!

2 Timothy 2:19
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Note that today’s verse does not say “The Lord’s own know that they are His.”  One of the curious realities of the Christian life is that God knows us, but we do not know ourselves.  As Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).  The fact is we don’t and can’t know ourselves.  And a corollary of this fact is that one of the devil’s favorite strategies is to therefore inveigle us into attempting this utterly futile project of asking, “Do I really trust God?”  That’s a question the devil loves, because it leads us straight into an infinitely regressing hall of mirrors wherein every answer to that question can in turn be questioned (“Did I really mean it when I said I really trusted God?”).  It’s a marvelously time-wasting bit of navel-gazing that gets us not an inch closer to communion with God, but yields a rich harvest of anxiety.  No wonder the devil loves it.  What he hates, however, is for us to turn our eyes outward to God and ask a related, but very different question: “Is God trustworthy?”  To that question there is a definite end and object: the answer is “Yes.  Period”.  Worse still (for the devil) there is the immediate danger that, in such an atmosphere of plain-speaking confidence, we might actually do something.  And that could lead to our taking practical action such as “departing from iniquity” rather than endlessly fretting in abstract self-analysis.  So today, drive the devil crazy.  Don’t worry about whether you trust God.  Focus on the fact that God is trustworthy and then do the next practical thing.  It will produce good fruits.  And when it does, you will find to your delight the truth of God’s word to Jeremiah: “I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer 17:10).

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • Talk about cutting to the chase – yet another example of why Mark Shea is one of my favorite writers.