The other night I caved in to the nagging of my Lord, Jesus. He dragged me to a night of recollection, reflection and meditation especially tailored to volunteer ministers of the parish. It's not that I didn't want to go. It's just that I have negative feelings about going in front of Jesus on someone else's terms rather than my own. Yes, even if the someone else happens to be Jesus, Himself. OK, I went. I thought that I had crossed the highest and hardest hurdle just going over the outgoing threshhold of my comfortable abode. Boy, was I ever in for an attitude adjustment!
I got there a little bit late. After the opening prayer. I was surprised. The place was chock-a-block with faithful church people. I mean, the creme-de-la-creme of the church people in this parish, anyway. I immediately prayed to the Divine Nagger, "not with this crowd! I told You I didn't want to come." He took pity on me and showed me to a seat in the dark corner of the back row.
See, He does have some Mercy left in Him.
The preacher is a person known to be creative, voluble, facile and articulate in his delivery. This evening he was creative and cautiously articulate in his second language. I was happy for that. I figured that he would have a greater problem with his task than I with my situation. He started by telling a cute little story about commitment and when he finished asked us all: "On a scale of
10% to 110%, how much percent do you dedicate to your ministry?" Hey, wait a minute. Is this meditation or confession?
Now the Divine Nagger gets in on the act and says in a solid, non-wavering tone into my left heart, "Stop complaining and answer the question."
So I do. It's not easy because I am a tough grader and besides, I know He's watching. (No, I'm not going to tell you what grade I gave myself.)
I hear a little whisper, "Hmmm, looks like we've got some work to do, eh?"
I hate it when He gives me that Canadian accent! So I say, "Let's move on, shall we?"
Indeed, the preacher did proceed to say a few inane things until the Holy Spirit took the upper hand again and I hear something like, "When you go to Jesus, why do you go?" I can't believe my ears. This is really tough, lightning and thunder stuff here. Why do I go to Jesus? Moi? Well, of cour...
"Careful, now, I'm right here, you know."
Well, let me see...WOW, mostly when I want something, I guess. But that's your fault because you said that You and Your Father would give us anything we asked for.
"Very well, I see that you need a moment to think about this. Please come up with something better than "...but you said..." so I'll back away a bit, but I'll be back in about a minute."
Boy, He can be tough. Now I know how Peter felt when He cornered him on the shore in Galilee. I better make nice and find a diplomatic way to say some hard truth.
"So, you want to be diplomatic, eh? Now that's a new side to you. You haven't gone over to Be____ub, now have you?"
No, Lord, of course not. I won't try to be diplomatic. I'll just cough it out. I ask for more than I give, that's true. I also think that it is true that I use a lot of it to give to the Mission that You expect me to do. I also know that I go to You a lot to thank You for the graces You give me. I go to Your altar a lot to partake in the Eternal Food that is Your Body and Blood. I bet You're going to say that I should share your love of me with my 'neighbor', right? You're going to say that I should stop and think before talking. You're going to say that I should give more to the collection, be nicer to Your priests and think better thoughts about non-Catholics.
"Ah, Paul, Paul. Get off your high horse and tell Me you love Me more. Open your eyes and look to Me for the answers to the ministerial problems that you have. When you ask Me for something, let it be for something that I want to get done. You remind Me so much of Jonah."
I told you that He is tough.
He is also smooth and merciful. He still keeps me healthy. He gives me more than I want and fills all my needs. He is there to talk to me when I need company. I am glad that I have known Him all my life and never have been tempted to leave Him. With Grace like that, I don't need anyone crying at my funeral.