Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Response

Friends of Faith:

“Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and, when they had finished breakfast, said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” Jn 21: 15-19

Symbolically, Jesus asked Simon Peter for a response three times. And three times Simon Peter said, “yes,” “I love you,” and “I will serve you.”
We too are asked by God for that same response daily: a request and a response to love, to serve, and to pray unceasingly.

We spent a refreshing and joyous weekend in church attending the ordination of three new priests for the Archdiocese of Dubuque and attending their “first” masses. These young men have answered the call to “tend my sheep” for the rest of their lives. But just like us, they will be given challenges to continue to respond to that call every day: to pray, to serve, to be obedient and to do God’s will.
What is OUR response to God’s call? Are we ready to say a resounding yes? Do we pray unceasingly for the grace, and the ability to respond according to God’s will?

Many people have asked Stan and I how we responded to the phone call that our building and offices were on fire just a little over a week ago. Gratefully God continues to reveal himself to us and we were graced to respond and start that day in much the same way as we start every day: with the knowledge that that day, just like every other, was in God’s control, so holding hands we said a prayer – a prayer for safety of the firemen and all that would serve and that through the day and whatever would happen in it His will would be done.
We responded by turning to God in the trust of a prayer.

Our focus now, is to be certain that our continued response is for God’s purpose and not our own. As one of the newly ordained reflected on his responses, his choices, in being called to the priesthood, I reflected on the choices that Stan and I will make over the next few weeks.

I thought back to when we started our businesses and built the building. Then, the choices we made were much more about our immediate needs for jobs and how a new building would be able to accommodate both of our businesses. We focused more on what we needed and how much we could afford to give. God’s call and God’s desires for us to serve Him and his people were “accidental” rather than purposeful thoughts.
Thankfully,  looking back, God had a sure and certain hand in gifting us with what we needed and a purpose for our chosen careers. But, I am pretty sure we didn’t give him the credit he was due, or thank him often enough for all that we were given in and by the serviceability of those buildings.

Our response and our focus now are much different. We are focusing on being patient for the answers to our many prayers of how to rebuild. We pray that our every response and our every choice remain directed by God. We are relying on our faith and trust in him, knowing that He will provide if we make the response and choose to love and to serve.
And our focus on rebuilding is on the thankfulness of the response of others to our needs, of being offered temporary locations at Z Line and Doyles and of the many willing hands who are making these spaces feasible and practical.

While we realize that we ourselves no longer have a “need” for a job, the building or to build we also realize that God calls us to more. He is asking us to serve: our employees, our customers and our community. It is where our response must always be a heartfelt “yes.”
Daily each of us are given challenges and therefore an opportunity to answer “yes” in response to God’s call to serve others regardless of the circumstances of those challenges. Some calls, some challenges, some opportunities are bigger than others, but EVERY choice we make, big or small, is a choice to choose God, to respond to God’s call to love and to serve the needs of others; to pray unceasingly for the Godly responses to the human answers of our “how to” questions.

Heavenly Father, You love us unconditionally and offer us the opportunity to accept you by the responses we make to the challenges placed in our lives. Help us to make choices which show you our grateful acceptance of all that you provide for us daily. Help our love of you be a witness which will convert hearts and hands to more fully love and serve you. Thank you for revealing yourself to us so that we are given the opportunity to respond in faith. May each person who responds to you in faith be given the mercy of peace, joy, hope and comfort in their daily lives. Amen.
What will your response be to God today? Will we be able to say: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” 2 Tm 4: 7  

Pray unceasingly that you will answer His call and respond to his message, in love, in service and in acceptance of the gifts of every challenge and every opportunity provided.

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