He must become greater, I must become less. John 3:30
Crosses, daisies and faithful Disciples of Jesus! That pretty much sums up the past couple of weeks for me! In the last two and a half weeks I have spoken to nearly a thousand folks who were on the same mission…to grow in holiness. As usual, I show up with my computer to do what God has asked me to do, using the words the Holy Spirit gives me and think I’m giving something. In all truthfulness; I always walk away taking more than I gave!
The Lenten message I’ve shared a few times involves the image of crosses and daisies. I saw a meme on Ash Wednesday that said “pick up your cross and not a handful of daisies!” It made me laugh and it made me think. After I pondered it a bit I realized Lent is about recognizing the power of both the crosses and the daisies. The daisies are the beautiful, simple, Christlike things I can do dozens of times each day that help me think of others more and myself less. The daisies are tiny acts of service and compassion that truly do help us grow in holiness. If these things are offered to Jesus with love, they console his heart and they draw our attention to the service of others and not ourselves. If I smile instead of argue; if I offer my spot in line or hold open the door; if I walk away instead of gossiping; if I offer a helping hand to a struggling soul and I do all those things out of love for Jesus…those little daisies allow holiness to blossom. Anything done out of love for, and offered to Jesus, has results that are as pleasing to him as a beautiful daisy is to us.
The crosses are the tough stuff! It’s true that the daisies help us grow in holiness but life can’t be all daisies. The crosses are personal, they may be private and they may be heavy but Jesus is just waiting there beside us ready to help us with the heavy lifting. We have to reach down and pick them up before he will grab on and help with the struggle. Our free will doesn’t allow him to join in until we get started and ask for help. Sometimes I hover over my crosses. I would imagine I must look to Jesus like one of those professional weight lifters on TV. I rub my hands, make some noise, bend down, practice the motions but as I step up to grab the cross I put my hands on it but don’t always stand up with the weight in my hand; I just go through the warm-up again and never get to the heavy lifting. Lent is the perfect time to quit the warm up and get to the lifting. No more studying the crosses; no more dragging the crosses; it’s time for ready set LIFT and CARRY!
Friday night I had the opportunity to listen to a true Catholic Giant, Fr. Michael Gaitley. It was powerful to be in a space with more than 800 Catholic women gathered to be inspired and enlightened by such a faithful and holy man. The even was wonderful but it was followed the next day by the stories of five women who live their discipleship in a way that touched the hearts and souls of a couple hundred more women. Fr. Gaitley was trained and educated and spends his life studying and writing and evangelizing. These five women who spoke on Saturday don’t have his theological training and experience but they live their lives with such beauty, strength, faith and powerful discipleship they left us strengthened and inspired. Fr. Gaitley teaches us the concepts and ideas, but these ladies showed us what they look like when they are put in motion. We heard stories of grief and loss, battles with spiritual warfare, fighting against depression, darkness and sadness and fighting against anxiety and doubt and defending the lives of the unborn even when it fills your own life with hate and hostility from those who can’t see truth. We heard the stories of five women who have picked up their crosses and witnessed the powerful strength and love of the Father who helped them carry them. We heard the stories that ended with the love, faithfulness, blessings and grace of the Father and we all left changed!
As you focus on your crosses and daisies this lent, stop to tell your story and stop to ask others about their story. God doesn’t mean for us to bear our crosses in silence. We are called to support and love each other along the way. I guarantee lives will be changed because five courageous women told their story and none of them particularly wanted to. None of them thought they had the training or education to make them Catholic rock stars but they rocked our souls with their honest, real, beautiful stories. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses and daisies you will focus on this week.
Blessings on your day!
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