I f we are called to holiness, and thankfully being sanctified is a gift which means God does the work, what then must we do?
It is always helpful to keep straight the different realms. God's activity and our own are not complementary the way two people carrying a table work together. He acts on an entirely different level (one which we do not comprehend). So saying, "God was present" is not like team teaching or co-counselors working with a person in need. The past two days have been hellacious. Deeply wounded folks have called me in need, some had been touched by radical evil, others were in great distress of more mundane though seriously painful types and one was dying and his family was 'dying' with him. My normal schedule can get pretty full and it was very full on these days, as I tried to shoe horn folks into small windows of opportunity between classes, worship liturgies and established meetings and counseling sessions. Seven phone calls to respond to and figure out how to be what I am supposed to be. Feelings of inadequacy and limitations needed no help from my critical friend, I was well aware that this was beyond me. To top it off my sleep had been disrupted for several nights, a combination of middle age and babies... While signing checks I discovered that instead of writing my name to authorize them, I was writing the name of the recpients again! Our financial adminstrator took it all in stride with good humor. I was thinking that this was a bad sign (though good I figured it out by check three!)
Here is the thing. Classes, in spite of me were coherent and some found helpful. Our meetings accomplished their goals and at the end of the fourteen hour day we were still functioning. Folks in crisis were satisfied with ten minute phone calls and, as I apologized for not being able to do anything to help, one kindly person said, "O but you have!" Twenty minutes became long enough to lay out the difficult story and shed some of the burden. At the end of it all I realized, "God has been here..."
Somehow, God had made it all work.[Even when I missed the message that my dear friend had died and found out the next day.] And not in some obvious, burning bush, thunder and lightening, sort of way. Not in a "pick up your mat and walk" kind of miracle--yet, in a "pick up yourself and your burden and know that I am with you always" kind of miracle. A miracle, a word which means God has touched us.
At the time I was just swimming up stream, one eye on what lay in front of me and another on the to-do looming when the note "he really needs to talk to you ASAP" was placed before me. I prayed with and for them, but without knowing He had already come to do His work of saving mercy. Already on the job, in their minds and hearts, in and through an unworthy, limited minister. However, at the end of it all, summing up what had taken place, I knew.... SO I said "Thank you Lord." And then I got onto the next looming need and responsibility.
Why, then, do we pray and meditate on Scripture and give our time, talent and treasure in service of God and those in need? Why do we do spiritual disciplines and make personal sacrifices and worship God (even when our heart seems not to be in it)? Why do we do this stuff when some say "it is works righteousness" and "you can't earn heaven."? We do it because we are instructed by the Lord to do it. We do it because His grace is sufficient, but He works best with those who are working hard. We do it because our mind, heart, soul, body are given to Him by us. Somehow, on the human level, a physical--spiritual hybrid level, that is how things work. I hope you find solace in knowing your limits do not prevent God from doing mighty works (even in a subtle way). I hope you find motivation to "get on it" and increase your time of prayer and study, increase your connections with others in ministry. I hope you are clearer that it is "all God" but only in the Divine dimension. On the human level, in and through our preparation and efforts, we make ourselves what God is making us. A mystery, yes, an unfathomable mystery, but also the truth. Renew your Lenten commitment. We are already approaching the one third point.