After finishing up one of the marriage classes we offer to couples preparing for marriage, we facilitators will often talk about what went right and necessary improvements. It seems no matter how much we prepare technology to work properly, it invariably has us jumping through hoops and frustrating us crazy. We joke about gremlins and demons messing with the works and adding unnecessary anxiety to the mix.
As is my personal custom after teaching a class, doing a talk at church, or any other endeavor to help others come to a deeper understanding of faith or God; I critique myself mercilessly. Was it thorough enough, delivered well, engaging, passionate, honest? Did they connect, nod off, or seem disinterested? Were they tracking with the information presented? I actually readjust my script every time I do this one class in an attempt to better clarify the information and increase the possibility of conversion. (Not leaving much room for the Holy Spirit is it?)
Herein lies the problem, I am not responsible for conversion.
I was particularly angry recently with what I felt was a botched, disjointed, Kerygma and was feeling pretty bad about “disappointing God.” After all, I was certainly disappointed with me, and God should be too. I want so much to give my best and do all I could to help others love Jesus. I hunger, for their appreciation and active participation in Catholicism. I crave their “ah ha” moments, hoping to see them literally smack their heads and shout, “Wow! I get it now! Praise you Jesus!”
The deal is, and I know this, we are just scattering seeds. I get the beautiful opportunity now and then, to see the fruit of someone else’s labor. By the grace of God, someone else just might see some fruit from my efforts.
“One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”(John 4:37-38)
In the midst of berating myself, I was reminded that God allows us to be co-workers in His great work of redemption. I remembered a time when I was in the height of my home catering days and had five children under nine. Yes, I know, crazy! Our oldest daughter was three or so and had been watching mommy create delicious things in the kitchen. She would pull a dining room chair over to the counter and watch the mixer blur into action whipping up wonderful concoctions.
“I want to hep mommy, can I hep,” she would say. I would often let her throw this or that into a bowl, cut cookies or taste what I was working on. This made her very happy. In her mind she was helping mommy make magic happen. There were days when I really didn’t need her help as I was pressed for time, and it really was faster if I just did things myself. Yet, I saw the value in letting her small efforts and willingness to help, produce such joy.
One really busy afternoon when I was already behind schedule, she was standing on the chair watching the cream thicken. She wanted to help and I was too busy to keep a close watch. As I turned around to shut off the mixer, I observed in horror as she threw a stick of butter into the cream. This ruined the cream I desperately needed and set me back another twenty minutes.
I guess when it comes down to it, we all are that little girl or little boy. We love God so much and simply want to help. We offer ourselves as instruments for work He can easily and more efficiently do without us. Lovingly, God gently rights our best efforts when they are veering off course, and makes up where we are lacking. The beautiful thing is, He is allowing us to “hep.”
Realizing this lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. The burden is not mine to bear. I just have to bring my little “yes” and He can do the rest. Look at the amazing things He has done through the ages with the saints and more spectacularly with Mary’s humble, trusting, fiat.
I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given by God to lend a hand in the Kingdom. No matter how small, or bumbling my efforts, God lets me help.
Go ahead and say yes to God, to put the talents He gave you, to work. It requires a little effort on our part but the rewards are infinite and always more beneficial than imaginable.