Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Instrument of His Peace

Sometimes I think I take the prayer I say each morning too literally.  “Make me an instrument of Thy Peace,” I say, and then I move on, sincerely trusting God will somehow grab me, like a screwdriver, and use me to fix some part of His creation.  I am an instrument, I acknowledge to Him.  Use me, Lord; it’s okay.
And I forget that I am a human being with free will.
Even if I should pray for Him to, God won’t just use me.  In each and every action of my life, I must cooperate with Him.  When I pray that “not my will, but Thy will be done in me,” it’s a copout to expect that to happen literally, absolving me of any responsibility.  It’s a lie I sometimes make to myself.  He won’t force me to do anything.  What I do is my will; I cannot will God to use me as a robot.  And so despite my prayer, I have to honestly admit that often it is not easy for me to bend my will, as I must, to do what I perceive as His will.  Wishing or praying that God might MAKE it happen in me is a copout.  I must work for it with Him.
In so many ways, it is true that man IS an instrument.  Like hardened steel, so many of his ways are set and predictable.  It’s hard to change our patterns of behavior.  But we are human beings, not just some steel screwdriver.  And those who we come into contact with are not like some rigid steel screws for us to work on.  With our free will, we can turn this way and that, and find the best fit with others, like the screwdriver head to the notch in the screw.  And they being human also, can cooperate with our efforts, turning to help align our efforts.  We can work together to create something of value.  We can and should work with our neighbors, them seeing the value of our efforts and we seeing the value of theirs.
And we together can make something strong, something beautiful, especially if we try to do as we perceive is His will.
An instrument of His peace; we cooperate in making it so.  But we should never forget, He is the one who provides the strength to move us.  He is the one who lights our way, and He is the one who gently yet strongly puts His hand on us, even as the hand is applied to the screwdriver which is turned to move the screw.  And perhaps most importantly, He is the designer of all beauty we might create, together.  Sometimes we must just, willingly, be the screwdriver or be the hammer, seeing only the screws and nails and rough outlines of what is being created, doing our part with him --- the Designer, the Creator.
And this is why I pray over the matter each day, because this is hard, this getting past MY will, and getting past my overwhelming desire to know what the final picture looks like.  Am I doing this right?  Am I working hard enough?  This doesn’t seem to make sense; are You SURE this is right, Lord?  I don’t really ask those questions of God each day, but He is the one who reads hearts, even mine.  He knows I am trying, but He surely must also know that some days my prayer is VERY literal.  “MAKE me an instrument of Thy Peace.”  Make me, Lord, because I am afraid I can’t make myself.
And so, to calm my anxieties, this morning I added a thought to my normal prayers for His help.  This morning I also said a prayer of thanks.  Too often we only say prayers of thanks for what we have received and not for what we have given, as His instruments.  We give to others, like the screwdriver to the screw, with God’s strength to turn us both.  To the degree which we can willingly cooperate in this effort, choosing to make our will His will, we join with Him and others to make His kingdom come ---- as we also pray.  And so for when it happens, even if we are not aware of it, even if we don’t see the master plan in what He has us do, we should give thanks.
I wrote back in 2009 a series of meditations I use when saying the rosary.  (You can find them elsewhere on this blog.)  They all seem to mean something to me, at one time or the other, as I meditate on them with the rosary each night.  But there is one meditation line in the Glorious Mysteries, which touches my heart every time I say it and meditate on it, because I need to pray it sincerely:  ‘When I call, but especially when I do not, Lord be with me.”
Make me an instrument of Thy Peace.
Stay with me Lord, to show me your will.
Stay with me Lord, so I hear Your voice and follow You.
-- from Padre Pio’s Prayer after Holy Communion.

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