I’d like to share with a faith-building lesson that I learned yesterday, because if you’ve been asking the Lord a question and you haven’t received the answer yet, this post is intended to build your faith.
Early Sunday morning, I was sitting on the balcony of a hotel where Ralph and I were spending the weekend to belatedly celebrate our wedding anniversary (42 years!) and to make a personal Advent retreat.
Overlooking a calm and peaceful sea, I began reflecting on and preparing for Mass. The first reading took me back to the very beginning of my ministry as a Catholic speaker.
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the Lord
and a day of vindication by our God.
In October of 1989, my first book had been published and I had been asked to speak about its topic at a youth group meeting. The youth director said to me, “We always begin our meetings with a scripture. Here is the scripture that I felt lead to choose for tonight’s meeting. I would like you to read it to the kids.” It was Isaiah 61:1-3. When I looked it over, I felt flooded by the idea that the Lord was telling me that this scripture described my calling. It’s the same scripture that Jesus read in the synagogue at the start of his public ministry.
Every time this scripture comes up at Mass, it feels like the renewal of my public ministry. The timing yesterday was uncanny. I had just finished asking the Lord for some guidance on his plans for Good News Ministries. This time of year is a good time to ask the question. It’s always a good time to ask this question, but in December as we fund-raise for the new year, I asked because this fundraiser is off to its slowest start ever. I’ve have had very little time to do the work that a successful fundraiser requires.
In October, my mother’s knee was so painful that she could barely get around and she needed a wheelchair and lots of assistance. In November, she had knee replacement surgery, after which I spent more time helping her than doing the work of Good News Ministries. Instead of stressing about the work that wasn’t getting done, I remembered that in serving Mom I was serving the Lord. My left hand was injured in the process. Also in November, my husband Ralph needed a hospital procedure for his heart. It went well but my calling then was to be with him, serving him. Then, just as he came home from the hospital, my aunt and uncle arrived for a week-long visit. Before they left, Ralph’s sister arrived to stay with us for a month while she waited to move into her new home. And throughout all of this, my father, who lives in a nearby assisted living facility (because his needs are far more than Ralph and I can handle) still needed my attention.
Since I had a disabled hand and very little time for Good News Ministries, I left the fundraiser in the Lord’s hands. I hoped that it would not be necessary for me to put as much time into it as in previous years. But as you can see by looking on our website, we are nowhere near the goal. And by the why, the goal of $50,000 is only enough to carry us through half the year.
This is why I asked the Lord on Sunday morning whether he wanted Good News Ministries to continue in 2018. His answer came through that day’s scriptures. He confirmed my public calling with this uncanny “coincidence” of events. Clearly, he was not saying it’s time for me to retire. (My heart’s desire is to do this ministry until my dying breath 20 or 30 years from now.)
Of course, it’s not just about my calling. It takes a staff of five to accomplish all that Good News Ministries accomplishes for the kingdom of God. It takes a volunteer team of a couple dozen enthusiastic members. And it takes a few hundred people supporting this ministry in small and sometimes large amounts. We all have the calling to build the faith of others, and together we can accomplish much more then I could ever do without you.
Meanwhile, I’m here to help build your faith. The story I have shared with you here reveals how much the Lord cares about YOU. He answers every question we place before him. To hear his voice, we need to be sensitive to “coincidences”. And then we need to trust him. That’s the hardest part. We need to trust that whatever he wants to accomplish, he will make possible.
St. Paul experienced joy in his great calling to be an evangelist. “In all circumstances give thanks,” he wrote in Sunday’s second reading. Paul’s trust in God enabled him to experience joy and peace far beyond his own limited understanding. This is important for me and for you to know. Giving thanks is a step forward to build confidence in God’s plans for us. Therefore, I am grateful for the handicaps that have contributed to the slow, low, scary level of funding that currently exists. It’s been making me keenly aware of my limitations and my dependence on God. It’ll be interesting to see what God is going to teach me next!
As we draw closer to the celebration of Christmas, let us recommit ourselves to being trusting children of the God who cares so much about us.
“Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that your gifts will be credited to your spiritual growth…. They are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:17,18b,19)
Blessings of Peace and Grace
as we serve Christ together,
Good News Ministries
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accordance with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you.