Surrender and Take Responsibility
Despite the differences that so many of us seem to have right now during this contentious and uncertain season of our shared history, we all can agree on at least one thing...
Every single one of us... without a doubt... has entertained a solitary desire at least once in our lives, and that desire, when formed into a thought, might sound something like this:
"I wonder what it would be like if I won the lottery."
See how easy that was? Unity achieved. We are all one in the spirit of a universally shared (albeit fleeting) thought about what it would be like to suddenly be filthy rich.
I have to confess that I've had that thought on more than one occasion in my life. I've daydreamed and wondered about all the things I would do if I won one of those really big Powerball lottos. But there's an inherent problem with my reverie...
I never play the lottery. In fact, I've often reviled lotteries as a tax on people who can't "do math."
No matter how much I might daydream, the fact that I don't play the lottery all but eliminates any chance I might ever have to rake in millions of dollars. I will never hold the winning ticket because I never bought it in the first place.
The reason I've been thinking about this today is all because of this amazing quote I read from the photographer and artist, Ansel Adams. He wrote:
Chance favors the prepared mind.
I think that far too many of us spend so much of our time wishing and hoping that we'll have spiritual breakthroughs, that we'll finally have a sign from God, that we'll miraculously just finally "get it" when it comes to life, faith, Jesus and everything.
But we've done very little to be ready for the moments when they strike like lightning or as Jesus put it, "like a thief in the night."
In fact, because most of us spend so little time honing our Divine listening skills when God speaks, we either don't hear or hear something completely different.
It also takes time to develop the kind of vision that can see God at work in the world. We don't have hearts ready for transformation overnight either. Sometimes that takes longest of all to prepare.
Fr. Richard Rohr puts it like this:
So the waiting, the preparing of the mind for "chance," the softening of the heart, the deepening of expectation and the desire, the "readiness" to really let go, the recognition that I really do not want to let go, the actual willingness to change is the work of weeks, months and years of "fear and trembling."
Fr. Richard is quoting the Apostle Paul here who exhorted the Early Church to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling," which sounds kind of odd translated into English from the ancient Greek.
What Paul meant was simply this: Surrender and take responsibility.
It's true that it takes openness to the movement of the Spirit, a willingness to be led by Jesus as we stumble after him on the way toward our future.
But that openness can only come after we have taken responsibility, acted, moved, learned, prayed, experienced, struggled and suffered, triumphed, and risen...
That is when our hearts and minds are fully prepared for the unexplainable coincidences, the Spirit-filled moments of clarity, the signs and wonders we longed to see, or the miracle in our midst.
May you find ways to both surrender and take responsibility today and every day. May you be ready when Jesus appears unexpectedly in your life when the "chance" moments of new life and growth appear.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.