“God I look to you, I won’t be overwhelmed, give me vision to see things like you do. God I look to you, you’re where my help comes from, give me wisdom, you know just what to do” (Jenn Johnson).
With six papers due before Thanksgiving, and three exams in 24 hours soon after, I have to admit I’m a bit overwhelmed and burned out from this semester. It makes me wonder how in the world am I ever going to persevere in ministry and service with client after client in pastoral counseling? What do I do on the days I’m losing steam and everything in me wants to stay on the couch, take a nap and just watch a movie? That’s where the above song lyrics come into play. Do I remember to rely on the Lord and not on my own strength? Do I truly look to Him? Self-reliance is something so natural and important in our culture, yet in a sense it’s anti-Christian. Christ Himself came under the guise of poverty and relied on Mary and Joseph to care for Him. He Himself communed with God the Father, and only did what He heard the Father tell him to do (John 8:28). Do we remember to look to God amidst the stresses of day-to-day life? To seek His wisdom and vision for us, our families, and our life circumstances?
I truly believe as we cultivate a heart and life that shows we are dependent on God, we will be truly free. We will be free to accept our own weakness and poverty; for Christ Himself was born into poverty. We will be free to take one day at a time, moment by moment relying on the Lord’s grace and strength, not on our own. I mean really, as I head into these six papers, I have to be honest, what comes to mind is work harder, not necessarily “For without me you can do nothing “(John 15:5). But that’s exactly where I need to be, on my knees before the Lord living the reality that without Him I can do nothing. Why do we compromise our daily time with Him when we’re busy? The Saints say, the busier you are, the more you need to pray.
I’ve heard it said that what made Fr. Michael Scanlon, TOR such a great president of Franciscan University is that every morning he would go before the Lord in prayer and not leave prayer until the Lord told him what to do that day. How different our world and lives would be if we followed in Fr. Michael’s example. A man who understood the depths of his poverty, so much so that he started each day waiting for the Lord to instruct him. When we ask the Lord to show us, He will! But we cannot give up on seeking Him, His wisdom, and His vision! How much better our lives would be if we sought His vision!
As a pastoral counselor this looks like depending on Him for vision that we might see our clients as He sees them; depending on the Lord for wisdom, to show us what to do, and not to draw conclusions too quickly. Christ in me, seeing Christ in them. What a profound encounter of love! May you have a blessed Advent season and have grace to embrace the poverty of your own hearts and welcome Christ into that poverty. Jesus may our hearts be a cradle for you!