“What we do is very little. But it is like the little boy with a few loaves and fishes. Christ took that little and increased it. He will do the rest. What we do is so little we may seem to be constantly failing. But so did He fail. He met with apparent failure on the Cross. But unless the seed falls into the earth and dies, there is no harvest” Selected Writings, Dorothy Day
At the moment I seem to be learning over and over, through many different things, the fundamental dependence I have on God in all things.
This has been my ‘slowest’ term in Cambridge, the most ‘normal pace of life’ term, yet. And I’m finding it scarier than I’d like to admit! I hadn’t realised just how much I derive a sense of security from knowing that I am doing ‘as much as I can’. I like doing things, and I like knowing that I’m capable of doing things in my own strength, I like having goals and reaching them. But I can only ever do things through God’s strength. Everything I have is of Him. This term feels like a readjustment. I am being reminded over and over that my value is in who I am. In my being and not in my doing.
The slowness makes me feel precarious. So does the thought of next year. I’m trying to take each day and give it back to God. And I’m trying to do the ground work ahead of next year. I have this very clear mental-image of my life as a flower bed. I really don’t know what I should be planting and where. I don’t know what the challenges will bring when I start trying to grow things. For now, I’m making the whole area clear. And doing a lot of work in my heart to keep giving things over. I want it to be the case that wherever God asks me to go and whatever he asks me to do, I’m willing.
I also keep running into my humanness. I feel like a clatterer, making noise and scattering life debris round about the place, leaving a centimetre of tea in every cup I drink. I don’t feel ready for a life that isn’t Cambridge, I’m scared of feeling the sort of stagnant I felt in my job over summer, and for the first time in life I’m feeling reluctant about change I know is coming.
I’m finding it hard to trust that God will produce the sort of growth in who I am in a place apart from here. I never even anticipated that I would reach my final year of Cambridge without an obvious plan and I’m not sure what to do now that I’m in that place.
One of the big things I’m being challenged on currently is my dependence on people in a way that isn’t of God. I can’t sing the line in ‘Be Thou My Vision’ that goes ‘Riches I heed not/nor man’s empty praise’ with honesty. I think this time of slowing and thinking and clearing is tied into that. The world gives an awful amount of praise for doing, not so much for being. And now, here I am, just being.
Luckily, my God is a multiplier.
One of my favourite worship songs has the line ‘you set the cross as the standard/and say we should live/only die first’. We are like the small seeds that Dorothy Day speaks of in that first quote. Growth will come as we are willing to offer up our very all, take up the cross as Christ did. That is the root to life.
And although I am but a small seed, luckily my God is a multiplier.
On Sunday, we were taught from the following verse.
“12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow
and fill it with Ephraim.”
Zechariah 9: 12-13
Here, if Ephraim means “fruitfulness” and Judah is “praise”, then what we are told by God is something like:
I will stretch out your small offering of praise as I bend my bow, and from that I will give you fruit. You will not stretch without purpose, for I am a multiplier.
So here I am, taking delight in a multiplier God. Here I am, a prisoner of hope like in Zechariah. Here I am, a small seed, trusting God to produce growth from the offering of my life.
Many have the same concerns when they step beyond the threshold of the halls of learning. I had those same concerns myself. I took my major in Mathematics and worked in the field of engineering. After two years I discovered it didn’t fulfill the promise that I thought that it would. From there I bounced in and out of a couple of jobs until I coached girls in recreation basketball. I then knew where God wanted me to be. I then became a teacher and coached on a high school level and never had any regrets but rather found love in what I was doing.
Finding one’s niche is like the little game we may find in a cereal box. It has three or more iron balls that roll around until they come to rest in the slot that was made for them. I too was like the ball in the game until I let God take the lead, without knowing. When my heart was at rest I knew He was with me, no matter what it was that I found joy in doing.
Saint John Paul the Great often simply said: “Fear not!” For, when we look to Christ God looks upon us in return. And nothing but good can come from any work that we offer up for the Glory of God.
You, Rachel, also see yourself as a seed. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said to those confused about their present station in life; “Grow where you are planted.” For in the end it matters in what profession we grow, so long as we do anything with honor, but rather that our souls grow in Christ.