Recently we had some work done at our house. Well, actually, a lot of hard, sweaty kind of work. The men that did it were relentless – I was so impressed with their focus and determination. I was speaking with the lead guy – a young, family man who we met years ago when he was working for a friend of ours, and who is now building a business of his own. I told him that I had confidence that he would be successful, because he works hard, has excellent skills, and is a kind, thoughtful person to deal with. His response? “These things are only possible when you have God.”
The next day I ran into a friend, an older gentleman who I see pretty frequently, but something about him was different. He looked more vibrant somehow, almost younger. I commented to him on how good he looked. He looked at me with pure gentleness in his eyes and said, “It’s all God . . . when we are willing to abandon ourselves to Him.”
I am filled with gratitude that my life has become one where I am surrounded by people like these men. People who recognize and appreciate God’s role in their lives. People humble enough to give Him all the credit, with no need to reserve any for themselves. People willing to say out loud, without fear of whatever kind of reaction they may receive, that they proudly walk with God. That they have abandoned themselves to Him.
That notion of total surrender, abandonment of self and the turning over my life to God, is not something that I have come to overnight, nor is it something that I do successfully every day. And this is true, even in light of the fact that I have personal, undeniable experience of what happens when I do. After all, It was nothing short of complete surrender that allowed God to step in and save my life, draw me back from certain death at the hands of drugs and alcohol, and bring me into a world where people like you — the members of the Cursillo community, my fellow parishioners at church, the people I do service with in the community — live and prosper in the grace of God. I didn’t know this world existed. I could not have asked for a place in it, because I would not have had the words to describe something so outside my experience. Yet God brought me here anyway, because I let go, gave myself to Him completely, and trusted Him with the outcome.
It is crazy, then, isn’t it, that I ever fail to live in that perfect state of surrender. But therein lies my humanity. I return to the battle with self, ego pushes in, and moments arise and take hold where I forget that “these things are only possible when you have God.” But then my contractor speaks the truth. My friend glows with the grace of God. In those moments, I think of St. Paul – so much of his writing resonates with me, but I think now of the part of his letter to the Philippians when he compares his past life to his new life in Christ, talks about a deep, heartfelt faith and love and, while acknowledging his own imperfections in his pursuit of perfect surrender, concludes that he has, indeed, “been taken possession of by Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8-14). He is in me. We are one. I abandon myself to Him, because it is inconceivable that I could ever be separated from Him. My life is in His hands.
We are entering Ordinary Time in the liturgical cycle. It is not Advent nor Christmas time; it is not Lent nor Easter time – so it is Ordinary Time. In Ordinary Time we walk with Christ, listen to Him teach, learn what He wants from us – all so that we are equipped to conclude that we can, should and must abandon ourselves to Him and the way of life He sets out for us. Ordinary? I don’t think so. Here is wishing you all the most extraordinary of Ordinary Times this summer. De Colores.