Thursday, October 13, 2011

The More Things Change . . .

Today was super, over the top busy day for me.  I am the newly drafted member of the Finance Committee assigned the duties of paying bills and keeping track of the debits to the Parish accounts.  I was a little behind in the Excel report updates, as we had a committee meeting tonight, and as I have been juggling the computer based training and testing required to be certified as high school coach in the IHSA.

Both of these time taking activities were not things that I volunteered for, but I was asked to do them.

My pastor, Father M., called me yesterday.  He was checking on my daughter, whom they prayed for at Divine Liturgy on Sunday, and also checking on me.  

I told him about the basketball coaching and he said to me, "You know how to say 'no', right?"

I said I did, but actually I am not really sure I do.  Part of my confusion comes from praying the Jabez prayer.  I seem to get the inspiration to pray it right before a job change, or one of these drafted versus volunteering situations.  

Are you familiar with the Jabez Prayer?  It was written about by Bruce Wilkinson, and it is taken from 1 Chronicles 4:10.
I pray it as follows:

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
God of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph,
God the Father of my Savior, Jesus Christ
Oh that you would bless me indeed, according to your will
That you would expand my borders
That your hand would be upon me
That you would keep me from evil, 
That I would not cause pain.

My intention when I pray it is that God would use me according to his holy will, and to bring glory to his name, salvation, and divine life to more souls.

Can you see where my confusion comes from then?  If someone is asking me to do something, and this something is unexpected, it is hard for me to not think, "Oh, maybe this is God blessing me according to his will.  Maybe this is his hand upon me.  Maybe this is his will."  I tend then to err on the side of it being his will, versus say, my short-sighted view of its actual impact to my available awake time, and what impact it might have on my family that has to survive a Mom that sees being asked, as God expanding her borders.  

This is a nightmare, or at least it sounds that way, to my husband.  Whereas I am fairly OK with being really busy, letting some things fall behind, while I catch up on others, this isn't the way he likes to live.

I'm pretty sure I would say no now if someone drafted me into something else.

In the middle of my frenetic life, as I was leaving for my job a good 45 minutes late this morning, I passed my Bible.  I asked God if he had something for me there.  I opened to Psalm 143.  I don't feel as fearful or worn as David did when he wrote it, I think he was on the lamb from Absalom.  Still some of the verses so beautifully express the longing I have.

I stretch out my hands to you,
my heart  like a land thirsty for you.     Pause

Let dawn bring news of your faithful love,
for I place my trust in you;
show me the road I must travel
for you to relieve my heart.

Rescue me from my enemies, Yahweh,
since in you I find protection.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your generous spirit lead me
on even ground.  Psalm 143:6, 8, 9-10

If you have found the secret to knowing if a new task, service is from God, or if it is part of the enemy's game to keep us distracted and so busy that it is no longer possible to keep daily prayer and meditation, or so irritable that peace within the family is decreased, perhaps markedly at times . . . well if you know the secret---I have a feeling it is pretty straightforward-- would you pretty please leave it in the combox, or do a post and leave me the link?  I could use it and probably some others that happened over here could too!

The thing is these job changes, the church finance stuff, the basketball coaching, I know I feel the love of God in my heart when I am doing these for him and in love of those I am serving.  Also, I feel God's love through these people that I am interacting with more because of these activities.  Example is Fr. M calling to check up on me.  He was concerned, not just because of my daughter, but because he gave this financial assignment to me and he knew I was getting covered up.  Isn't that a case of God refreshing me, and showing his concern through his priest, servant, pastor of me the little, over-committed sheep?  

Then the coaching.  I have not been able to hold back telling some of the Moms that I love their daughters.  Sooo much goodness and love, active caring, and evidence of frequent, familiar conversation with Jesus is what makes it hard for me to not tear up sometimes when I consider them, and it is even more impossible if this is the case in the midst of a family life impacted by a father either leaving, or being there, but not there due to alcoholism.  That is the case with two of the girls on the team.
I should do a whole post on this next verse, but it just is my new favorite verse, and newest philosophy of life, and who really knows when I will have the time to do another post anyway?

Do everything with love.  1 Corinthians 14:16

This just seems to be the secret to remaining in Jesus, like the vine on the branches.  

I have used the following verse for a long time to help me with finding meaning in my work, and making the heart and mind connections I needed to do my best, especially in my younger days, when I thought I should be working more directly for the Lord:

Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

This verse helped me do whatever I was doing at work, for Christ.  It wasn't though for the promise of being repaid as his heir.  I don't want to say I take that for granted, but reward isn't really my focus.  I am glad there is heavenly glory and all, and I do want those that have suffered, and persevered, and run the race to win to shine with heavenly glory.  It is just that isn't what motivates me.  Love motivates me.  Love that I so inadequately comprehend and ponder in the incarnation, sacrifice, and sanctification that God in his grace and mercy lavishes on us.    

I know it is supposed to be an act of will and intellect, but I have to say it feels right when I feel in love with God and I love when that is behind whatever I am doing.  Not that is the case even half the time if I am being honest, and not trying to come off saint-like--because I am not.  It might be less than 10%, I don't know.  I am tired and had a long day, and don't round up life experience well to percentages, even when I'm not tired.

It is just this is my new philosophy, Do everything with love.  I know I give my best when this is the case.

Whether it is praying, spiritual reading, listening, talking, and caring for husband and children, or visiting with friends, and working alongside of others  on the job, worshiping and chatting with fellow parishioners, blogging and commenting, running, biking, everything--all of it can be done with love, and that is the way I most like to do it.

I think when I do, it is more likely that I can follow the instruction of this verse:

 . . . Whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31b

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