Here’s today’s question, posted by my brilliant sister Lisa: What’s the right balance between my action and God’s action? Where do my dreams and God’s dreams intersect?
There are those who believe God is a drill sergeant who enjoys giving really horrible assignments to us. The harder they are, the more they make us suffer, the better, because that’s how God is glorified: we become less, and God becomes more. So we put our boots back on, heave our packs on our already sagging shoulders, and press on.
It is possible that this view of God is true, at least to some extent. But I’ve mostly seen it make tired people even more tired. Then they give up on their dreams and on God. And then they assume God moves on to fresher recruits.
There is another view, one centered around the greek word eucharisteo.
Eu means good; charisteo comes from the root word charis, which means thanksgiving, grace, or gift. The Great Thanksgiving. The Good Gift. When Jesus broke bread the night he was betrayed, first he gave thanks. Before he was handed over, he eucharisteo’d. What does it mean to give thanks before enduring a broken body, before watching your blood pour out?
The body of Jesus breaks, and his blood is poured out, for the healing of the world. Some of us come together on Sundays to “celebrate” that broken body, that blood poured out. This is traditionally called the Eucharist. Why do we celebrate? Isn’t that a bizarre word to describe something so horrific?
We celebrate because many of us partner with God in the healing of the world. We suffer and we create. We give and we offer and we march and we go beyond. We love so that others might be healed. Single mothers do this every day, all day. Supervisors who really love their employees do this. Parents, coaches, teachers, CEOs, pastors, professors, garbage collectors… anyone who is giving anything of themselves for the healing of the world is partnering with God.
And when you partner with God in healing the world, your body gets broken and your blood gets poured out.
You become empty.
It hurts when your body is broken and your blood is poured out. It takes something out of you to serve and give so that others might be healed.
And that is why we need to come back to the Eucharist table – the communion table – to mend our broken bodies, to pour the blood back in. We cannot heal the world by trying hard. We give and pour and create, then we stop to remember that we cannot heal the world. We partner with the work of Jesus. We are not Jesus.
So where do my dreams intersect with God’s dreams? Is what you’re doing contributing to the healing of the world? Then do it and be at peace. Augustine of Hippo wrote,
“Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.”
And when you’ve done that for a while, and you become empty, go back to the Great Giver to be filled back up. Because the Great Giver was emptied all the way out and didn’t run out, we can go back to that table any time and any place and we can be filled.
Read other posts in this series here.