“Great opportunities to please God are infrequent,”
But turning little actions into great acts can happen all the time...
Margaret wanted a sign from God. She wanted this sign to reassure her that what she was doing was the right thing. She wanted evidence that her choices were the right choices. She wanted certainty that she was okay, but in addition she wanted...
Nothing can be more aggravating than to be waiting patiently in a long line when someone “butts in” elbowing and pushing to make room. It can be most annoying and cause quite a commotion. No one likes to be pushed or jostled in a line or...
What is it that Jesus really sees when He meets people? How about His first meetings with the Apostles, Peter or Thomas–what did He actually see in them? Obviously, it was more than Peter’s high-spiritedness or Thomas’...
Margaret wanted a sign from God. She wanted this sign to reassure her that what she was doing was the right thing. She wanted evidence that her choices were the right choices. She wanted certainty that she was okay, but in addition she wanted a sign that God was okay. And so she pleaded in prayer: “God give me a sign. Give me a sign that you are okay with me and my decisions.”
When Margaret told me of this prayer, my response was “Margaret, God is always with us giving signs which help us make good choices.” She then asked, “How do I know?” I said, “Margaret, remember why we are here? Didn’t God put us here to love and have us love Him in return? So why wouldn’t God give us the support to make that happen?” But Margaret had more questions. “Okay, I get that, but where do I find them? Where do I look?” I replied, “well we can’t look up at the sky or we‘ll miss them. Instead we have to look down and all around our daily lives. The signs are right before our eyes!”
Looking back to this conversation, I thought how often we look for God’s signs in all the wrong places. Where then are God’s signs to be found?
We find God’s signs wherever we are, because if God is with us, then so are His signs. They are His footprints left behind. When we receive a phone call or note from a friend we haven’t heard from in a very long time. This conversation refreshes us, the memories shared cause us to chuckle, the reminiscences make what we’re doing lighter and easier to handle. This is a sign from a caring God reminding us that He hasn’t forgotten us.
How about when family and friends pop in to our hospital room unexpectedly when we are feeling lonely and “down in the dumps?” Their abundant hugs and delightful stories offer love and concern leaving us cheered up and less concerned about our illness. These convivial visitors are God reassuring us and He does this all the time.
Remember the time we received that long desired forgiveness from someone we love, yet in a weak moment hurt badly. God is in that mercy too. And those tiny surprises from friends and family remembering birthdays and our special life moments with a personal note, email or tweet. These simple greetings of love are all special signs from God that He remembered too. And the compliments we received and didn’t know were coming or even deserved. These are all signs coming right from God’s goodness, and they are just for us.
Yes, indeed God is always sending these little signs in our lives. We just have to be open to finding them scattered throughout our daily lives. They are truly signs of His love. So Margaret and anyone else looking for signs from God, don’t look only to heaven with eyes closed. Instead, open your eyes and see them pointing the way and encouraging us to follow. God’s signs are certainly for seeing, but most definitely they are also for following!
Nothing can be more aggravating than to be waiting patiently in a long line when someone “butts in” elbowing and pushing to make room. It can be most annoying and cause quite a commotion. No one likes to be pushed or jostled in a line or anywhere else.
Why? Well, we just don’t like others to force us to do what we are not inclined to want to do. When we find ourselves in these kinds of situations, we resist.
Our God knows this and so when he calls us or wants our attention, He never pushes. He simply suggests a certain direction with a gentle “nudge!” Since the Lenten season provides many opportunities to reflect more seriously on life’s direction and how we are heading there. God uses this particular time to point out another way, and so he gently “nudges” us in that direction. God’s “nudge” is simply saying: “Stop resisting and start listening. There’s another way.”
When we do, Lent can help us grow wiser and stronger in our desire to follow the Lord’s personal dream for each of us, and in the process grow holy. God’s “nudge” is wrapped in God’s love and concern that we live our lives to the fullest. Listen to these words from St. Francis de Sales:
“God takes pleasure in seeing us make little steps and, like a good father holding his child’s hand, He will conform His steps to ours, quite happy not to go any faster than we can walk.”
Now that’s the “nudge” of a caring and compassionate Father.
And St Paul describes “a nudge” this way
Welcome one another, therefore just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs. Romans 15:7-10
What is it that Jesus really sees when He meets people? How about His first meetings with the Apostles, Peter or Thomas–what did He actually see in them? Obviously, it was more than Peter’s high-spiritedness or Thomas’ stubbornness.
Jesus saw deeply within them, peering through all their levels of facades, and found those hidden places where they tucked away their hurts, dissatisfactions and shame, or where they covered over their inadequacies, weaknesses, embarrassments and pretensions. The places that hold the secrets of what they are really like.
Jesus observed them in their nakedness, vulnerability, and fragility and instead of running for cover; He stared in amazement at what they yet can accomplish with a little help.
This same thing happened when Jesus spotted Matthew. Known then as Levi, the tax collector, the Roman turncoat–Jesus connected immediately with him and that very day they went to dinner and began a deep friendship.
Levi, soon renamed Matthew, sat down with Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah and they both simply chatted like old friends. And Levi’s life was never the same again! It was this encounter with Jesus Christ, after locking eyes and hearts that Levi, the Tax Collector disappeared and Matthew, the Apostle, appeared in his place.
Jesus offered Levi, the tax collector, kindness, not judgment and Matthew, the future Evangelist, followed Jesus from that day forward. Jesus breathed love over Levi and brought him new life as Matthew.
In this encounter with the new Matthew, Jesus, the Savior, showed how a savior saves. He accepted Matthew and didn’t reject him. He welcomed him and didn’t condemn him. He healed him and didn’t hurt him. Jesus did it using His Father’s gentleness, acceptance and graciousness.
And Matthew seeing Jesus immediately liked him, and it was then he decided to leave his tax earnings and be like Jesus. Matthew saw humility in Jesus’ glory, and Jesus saw greatness in Matthew’s alienation. It was a perfect fit for both.
The Jesus, who encountered Matthew, Peter and Thomas, and many others long ago, sees those very same gifts in each of us. He is staring in amazement at what we yet can accomplish with his help. Jesus, our Savior, waits to breathe love and bring forth new life from you and me. It changed Matthew then, and Jesus knows it can change us now.
Jesus’ vision is definitely better than 20-20 vision, and He’s staring at us right now. Are we next in line for transformation? Better now than never!Read More