“. . . we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14,7-9)
Having never grown up around horses, all of my knowledge of things equine have been gleaned through reading, movies and other media. So, please forgive me if I get this next part wrong.
“Breaking” a horse seems to be a critical stage in the relationship between rider/owner and horse, where the horse’s wild will is “broken” to the will of its master. Storytellers lead us to believe this process creates permanent, persistent bonds between man and beast leading to acts heroic.
What do I know? But the image is an apt one in my visualizing my experiences of this last year.
At some point in the recent past, I believe that when I told the Lord he could “do with me as He will”, He took me seriously. Admittedly, these words as prayer did not pass my lips as a stranger – there have been multiple times over the years when I have prayed and proclaimed this exact prayer in earnest zeal and honest sentiment. The entire truth also includes some times when I remember praying exactly the same prayer while in some type of misguided spiritual negotiation. But that’s unimportant now.
My experience of this last year leads me to believe that, once my attention finally fully focused on His hand in my life, He responded to my invitation and proceeded to break me to His will. Deliberately, sometimes painfully, breaking me down to where I could begin to understand that I neither lived, nor died, for myself, but for Him. And, bless His Name, I am really afraid that this is only the beginning.
I choose that word “afraid” with deliberation, since it provides an accurate description of my disposition.
Afraid of what is to come, but confident that “. . . (His) grace is sufficient for me, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12, 9). Afraid that I might still miss His visitation, since the poisons of self-absorption still so readily seep to the surface of my character prompted by the most mild of provocations. Afraid that the path He invites me to take will lead me to a place I do not want, yet one which, in His Mercy, is designed specifically for my salvation.
My appreciation for God’s mysterious gifts seem to prosper from waters of adversity since I am forced to so heavily lean on Him, and others, during that time. I don’t think I want to pray for Him to “bring it on”, but, there it is.
I have tasted intense pain and experienced demeaning, humiliating, uncomfortable and invasive procedures. Yet in all of this I have floated on a sea of love from my family and the prayers of my community and friends. His grace is sufficient, His power is perfected.
I have also feasted on a renewed appreciation of how we are all connected in the Body of Christ, and how God draws us all to inclusive, rather than exclusive relationships. Fr. Greg Boyle says often that the love of God shows us the “no one is disposable”. Being broken to His Will has allowed me to glimpse the truth of this, and, God help me, I want to see more!
I often used to (brag? Boast?) claim that “I have all the friends I need.” I went there because I found the challenges of true personal evangelism to be distasteful to me. I found attending evangelical meetings and hosting charismatic events much more desirable than making myself personally available to another by sharing with them the Good News. What would happen if they accepted Jesus and turned their lives over to Him? How much time and effort of mine would that take?
What a waste of years! I am forever grateful His oceans of Divine Mercy can easily fill the crevices and fissures of my deeply flawed character.
Being broken provides me with an intimate understanding of how the Body of Christ allows me to “be with” those in need, and how incredibly valuable this is. My wife and children were “with” me my illness and a recent hospitalization. I, in turn, am striving increasingly to “be with” others through prayer and supplication. I pray God continue to grant me time and opportunity to do more so in person.
Paul tells us in Romans 14: 7-9 “Brothers: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord, so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
I love how, once He has our attention, the Lord can turn any circumstance to our benefit!