Believing God over everything — even insecurities

Readings for February 10, 2019

Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 138
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

This week’s readings feature three pillars of the faith who had dramatic conversion stories — a burning ember purifying sinful lips, a flash of light and temporary blindness for a persecutor of early Christians, and a net-tearing catch of fish for a sinful fisherman. But as a lifelong Catholic, having been baptized as an infant, I do not have a dramatic, or even tangible “conversion story.” I grew up in a family that prayed together, went to church together, and participated in church activities. I’ve always believed in God. That said, I do have a “conversion story” of sorts, moving from non-belief to belief in my ability to answer God’s call.

On my 50th birthday I was at my wit’s end with my own anger and I asked God to “fill me.” I didn’t really know what I was asking for but my thought was in line with the elementary school experiment whereby a glass filled with red colored water is slowly filled with clear water and eventually all of the colored water is forced out. I needed God to force out my anger by filling me up with His goodness. He answered my prayer that day and I have seen the grace of faith more clearly since that time.

This blessing is not unlike the ones that Isaiah, Paul, and Peter receive in this week’s readings. As each accepted the gift of faith in their lives, they were richly blessed by God. Isaiah became the chief prophet of the coming of the Son of God, Paul the predominant evangelist to the gentiles, and Peter, the rock on which the Church was built. And their conversion became much more than a personal faith experience. With the gifts they received, they changed the world.

I, however, did not go about seeking ways to change the world after my reawakening. Instead, I spent time studying, reading, reflecting, and praying. Doing so, I was given a gift of understanding that I had never had before. I was reading the daily readings of the Catholic Church and seeing and piecing together God’s story with greater clarity than ever before. But I had no idea what to do with this gift. Or, perhaps I was afraid to try. After all, even with my newfound understanding, surely I was not fit to speak out on God’s Word.

The stories of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter indicate that each of them felt the same way. Isaiah believed he was doomed by his sins, and Paul wrote he is “not fit to be called an apostle.” And when a wandering and obviously popular teacher climbed into Peter’s boat to use as his pulpit, later telling Peter to pull out into deep water and lower the nets, the catch led Peter to fall to his knees and say, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Yet, for all of their feelings of unworthiness, these three are each taught that the gift of grace transcends human understanding, and comes with a call to do something more.

That truth took more than a year to get through my thick skull. I understood that I had been given a gift on my 50th birthday, and I even spent a lot of time pondering whether I should do something with that gift, yet I remained convinced that I was unworthy. It was about a year after my birthday that I spoke with a priest during the sacrament of reconciliation. I was not in my home church and the priest didn’t know me or anything about me. He asked some pointed questions that led me to share my story with him and after I had finished, he paused, thought for a minute, and said, “Welcome back. I think it’s time to stop pondering and start doing.”

It was then that I knew that I needed to find a way to “preach the gospel to the whole world.” (Mark 16:15) After some steadfast encouragement from my wife to lower my net into deep waters, and a push from my editor, I started to put into words some of that which I believe I have been gifted to understand.

I am still not certain that my reflections, prayers and poems are all that God wants from me, and I still don’t understand why I was given this gift of grace. But I believe in my heart that I am finally offering God thankfulness for His gift of understanding, and I am willing to accept that I don’t need to understand why I was given this gift, I only need to answer God’s call. “Here I am Lord, send me.”

O God, my loving Father, thank you for the gifts you have chosen to give to me. May I use those gifts forever for Your glory, sharing Your gospel with the world. I ask this of You in the name of Jesus Your Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever. Amen.

14 thoughts on “Believing God over everything — even insecurities

  1. Reply to:
    Believing God over everything — even insecurities
    by Tim McGee

    Isaiah 6:“[8] And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

    1st Cor.15: 9-10 “ [9] For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me”

    Luke 5: 4-5, 8 “[4] And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” [5] And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets. …[8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
    1st Cor. 15: 10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am”

    Tim, I was deeply touched by your moving account of God expectations for each of us and our often bewilderment on what exactly ought to be OUR response? It is my prayerful hope that I’m taking up where you left off here.

    I’m a 74 year old life- long Catholic, and for about the past 20+ years also a trained, tested and certified Marian Catechist {more on that in a bit.} I faced this same question; what does God expect from me, roughly around the same age you are now.
    I won’t go into how I got to where I am now, to keep this as brief as possible; but I would like to share for possibly your consideration, and the sake of all who may read this some options to carefully and prayerfully consider on how we might serve God.

    Our Church Fathers; taking the lead from Jesus Himself {Mt. 28:19-20} have for a very long time taught what Paul Expresses so beautifully in {1st. Cor, Chapter 12} which is a brief summary of the various roles of the One Bod and how we might apply our God given talents to honor Him.

    [1] Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed.

    [4] Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; [5] and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; [6] and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.

    [7] To each {& everyone} is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. [8] To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, [9] to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, [10] to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. [11] All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. [12] For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. .
    [14] For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

    [20] As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. [28] And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. [29] Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? [30] Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

    [31] But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
    But friend, by intent, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.

    Everyone reading this is familiar with the Lord’s Prayer {Lk.11: 1-4} “Thy Will be done {here on} on earth {exactly} as it is heaven; which is Fully and Perfectly. So each and every-one of Us then has factually asked God how He desires us to serve Him in building up His earthly kingdom; His Catholic Church.

    Paul prudently points out; while everyone is expected to have an active role in the building up of the Church; we are all not suitably equipped to do so in the same capacities’, or with the same charisms.

    So I wish to share some roles you might prayerfully consider; not in any order of importance, rather as they occur to me from my personal experiences.

    1. My praying daily for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; humbly and with persistence.
    https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-seven-gifts-of-the-holy-spirit

    2. By knowing our faith well enough to be able to explain it {**}; share it, live it fully and defend it if and when called upon to do so factually, with charity.

    3. Mass: arrive early enough to be able to set your focus on the fact that you ARE in the very Real Presence of Jesus Christ in Person. {Dress and act accordingly}… It has been said that “the only bible most people will read is HOW we live our lives.” Our example can touch countless people without us even knowing it. And PLEASE do bring your kids to Mass with you.

    4. At Mass consider being an altar server {especially as an adult}; an usher, or even a greeter if you’re church does this. One can also join the choir.

    5. Perhaps helping to keep the church clean, or helping in the office, or working with the Saint Vincent de Paul organization is something you can assist in. Maybe even in decorating the church? Maybe by joining the Grieving committee.

    6. If you’re able to do so {being a parent} is often the only needed experience; volunteer either as a Teacher or as a Teachers Aid at sharing our Faith with young people in CCD {Catholic Christine Doctrine / PSR Public school of religion} classes.

    7. If you’re qualified, and know well what we believe and why and How we can believe it, one could check to see if there is an opportunity to teach or co-teach RCIA {Rites of Christian Initiation Christian Adult converts}

    8. If none of these seem to match your talents; consider joining the Women’s Guild, or the K of C. Or maybe just as a dedicated prayer warrior.

    9. If none of the above address your talents; talk to your Pastor for advice. I’ve never known a Pastor not in the need of more free-help.

    10. Another set of options for someone who knows our Faith well enough to explain it, and defend it are the on-line- opportunities. Consider joining religious Forum’s: Here are two you might consider:

    Catholic Answers Forum: https://forums.catholic.com/
    Catholic Debate Forum: http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?3-Debate-Forums

    I hope and pray someone will find this useful.

    11. {**} We can never know too much about our Faith. What we believe and why and HOW we can believe it. For anyone who might be interested I have been offering for 9 years now, a TOTALLY FREE OF ALL COST, home study E-Mailed course, with one Lesson sent every week. It is a User friendly; comprehensive study of our Catholics Faith beliefs and practices. I also answer all faith related questions.

    As for my qualifications; I am a trained, tested and certified Catholic Marian Catechist; with many years of faith sharing experience, I am also the author of two Catholic Apologetics books: “BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD”, and “CATHOLIC AND CHRISTIAN… A book of essential Catholic Catechesis by Patrick Miron” {as a FYI; everything in the second book is included FREE in my BUILDING BLOCKS OF OUR CATHOLIC FAITH; E-Mailed course; and a GREAT DEAL MORE not in the book. I’ve also been teaching our Catechism for the past 3 years by E-mailed weekly lessons.

    Here is the contact information for the Marian Catechist; a Lay Apostolate founded by the late Father John A. Hardon S.J.; one of the most respected theologians of the 20th. Century. Father’s MOTTO was “You can’t share what you yourself don’t have.”

    Oh, in closing, I’ve done about 80% of the “jobs” I’ve listed at some point in the past 40 years or so. And like Peter and eight other Apostles; I was completely UNQUALIFIED to do nearly all of them until I permitted Jesus to Run MY Life. Amen; I AM a BELIEVER!!!!

    https://mariancatechist.com/memberships_requirements_forms.html

    To Jesus THROUGH Mary,
    Patrick Miron
    Patrickmiron66@hotmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post and I love the graciousness of God! He answered your prayer in a spectacular way. None of us are worthy of the call on our lives, believe me. It is not about worthiness, it is about obedience. He will lead us where He wants us to go and use us where He wants to. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Every testimony is special, and I relate more to yours than to others because I also grew up in church. Love the point about grace outweighing our insecurities! I don’t recall a time in scripture that I’ve yet read where someone called by God is actually jazzed about it, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Amen. Gentle friend. We do not choose God He chooses us. Likewise we do not choose what we do. He chooses us. I am not a Catholic but God chooses whom He will or as scripture says, He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Wonderful Saviour. Wonderful Lord.

    Liked by 2 people

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