“I’m coming, Lord.”
I love the images these words evoke and all of their implications.
St. Alphonsus’s words sum up what I want a want my life to be about. Hearing our Lord’s call and saying, enthusiastically, ‘Yes! Here I come, Lord!”
St. Alphonsus Rodriguez (1532-1617) served for 46 years as a doorkeeper at a Jesuit abbey in Spain. He was devoted to finding God in the present moment. “Lord, let me know you. And let me know myself,” he would pray. Each time the bell rang he looked to the door and envisioned that it was God himself who was standing outside seeking entrance. On his way, he would say, “I’m coming, Lord!”
In hindsight (where so much of our understanding of Our Lord is found) He has been insisting my whole life that I write — everything, all the time. Thoughts, prayers, confusions and revelations and joys and sorrows. Everything. For a while I thought of it as merely an excellent exercise for my own interior understanding and development — a way to organize my thoughts. And, if that had been the conclusion, the sum total and reward of my effort, well good enough, I thought.
But, it never seemed enough for Him. He kept insisting, it seemed, that I go further, do more, ultimately that I organize all the writing I’ve done all these years. So much so that He began removing one after another after another each distraction or excuse or self-constructed barrier I could conjure up to avoid the exposure of things intimate and personal, not to mention avoiding the work involved.
The work is something I love. Writing, editing even, introspection, thoughtful assessment of how God has acted in my life, memorializing the God-driven events of my life. These tasks, though, have always felt self-centered, self-indulgent, like time I’m stealing from other, more important work — cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry, perhaps, exercising, or cooking dinner or volunteering somewhere.
My words can sometimes be so much drivel, but frequently enough my Lord takes hold and makes them so consoling, allowing me to look back at them later, to read and reread descriptions of those special times when I felt His presence or longed to feel His presence; to remember and savor the feelings of love and awe and inspiration — and unworthiness — I have experienced; to recall the feeling of being loved more deeply than I could ever have imagined possible with a love so undeserved; and finally, they fill me over and over again with gratitude for His presence throughout my life and a growing willingness to be a slave to His will.
The words I’ve written — the evidence of His presence throughout in my life — are everywhere — old notebooks, often ones earlier dedicated to a different purpose; word documents on my computer, poorly categorized, some by date, some by subject; scraps of paper found nearby when I wanted to jot something down; in more recent years in notes keyed onto my phone while at the gym or at night in bed or whenever paper and pen or keyboard were inconvenient. Organizing the clutter of words I had stored up for years in the various rooms of my life and attempting to turn them into anything coherent seems a daunting task.
And my reticence extended further: I questioned for several years (not without justification in retrospect) my motives for the desire to produce something that others might someday read. There seemed a strong possibility of narcissism; a self-centeredness; a potential vanity of spirit to which I didn’t want to submit. In my deepest most spirit, I know and knew all along that God was the source of my writing; that He was speaking through my writing to me. When I would go back to re-read pieces months and years after the initial drafting, I would remember the sense of His presence in my thoughts, captured as they were in the words on paper.
But I would also see how my initial wording showed important misstatements and, worse, misunderstandings of His Truth as I’d come to understand it better over the ensuing years. I knew how vulnerable I continued to be to my own pride and ego; to the sense that this was MY message; MY words; MY story; things I’d done, thoughts that I’d considered were all MY doing rather than His grace working it’s will in my life. Pride and ego are insidious demons. Maybe the worst of the lot and often the last to be slayed as we empty ourselves of ourselves.
And, as I questioned my ability and desire to write about experiences so personal, I wondered how I could possibly find the right words to convey these experiences? What possible good could be served?
Well, those are the questions necessarily left to God. He’s made it clear in so many different ways that my job is to live life, write it down, capture the story, then leave to Him the tasks of figuring out what to do next — who reads it, who benefits, when and how. I may never know. So be it.
That perspective is liberating actually, as I begin to write to and for God only, and not for some disembodied publisher or my sister or my friend, Nellie, or even for my husband. Rather, just for Him who loves me first and best and always.
So, what follows is the story about how God found me and called me to be His own and then how He has worked to shape the woman He intended me to be from from the start. He’s not finished with me yet. Like everyone else, I’m still a work-in-progress. But I’m His…warts and all. He’s calling me now…
Yes. I’m coming, Lord.