Aloha Friday Message – May 17, 2013 – Calling Every Living Soul

1320AFC051713 – Calling Every Living Soul

Read it online here, please.

Romans 8:29 – For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

There are in this world maybe a couple dozen people I watch for some sign that they are hearing and responding to God’s call to faith. Maybe there are more than that; sometimes I pray an offering-prayer giving God the best of the day of “every living soul” so that God may be loved and honored in some way by all humanity.

Just over three years ago I wrote about those who were left behind when Jesus called – not like the series of book and movies, not that Left Behind. Mine was about the people who stayed where they were while the person Jesus called got up and followed him. Even in the Old Testament, there were people God spoke to and they just got up and did what he said. My favorite among those is Abraham. Abraham was always ready to obey. It was his nature. God spoke, Abraham acted. Unfortunately sometimes when God did not speak, Abraham acted on his own. When it really counted though, some seven times when God spoke directly to Abraham, he did as he was told, and “it was attributed to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6) Abraham’s obedience, righteousness, faith – whatever you call it – was built-in.

There is no evidence in the accounts of Abraham’s journey of faith that he ever doubted that it was God speaking to him. He never said, “Wait. Who are you again?” or “You talkin’ to me?!” And you know, I think there’s something of that built-in faith for everyone. There is something inside us that knows God is there, that he calls us, and wants to delight in our company. Have you ever looked at an animal – a dog, a kitten, a deer, a meadow lark – across a distance and hoped it would turn and look back directly at you? It’s kind of a thrill to have something like that happen; we feel closer to nature, closer to creation, and closer to God. Now I know you have looked across a distance at another earthling – man, woman, child – and hoped your gaze would be met, eyes would lock, hearts and minds would open, and all of that without provocation arising. God is waiting for us to return his look.

He wants us to look back to him so much that he made us in his image so it would be easier for us to recognize him. It all works the same way. Just as you want the puppy across the street to look at you, you can also remember times when you whistled at a bird in a tree, meowed at a cat under the car, squawked like a peacock, quacked like a duck, or snorted like a pig just to see if they would respond, if they would “talk” to you. God calls us in many voices, including our own, and he wants to establish a dialog with us. Now, when we oink at a pig, the pig wonders why we are making those sounds and might even oink back. But when the pig oinks back, we don’t know what it is saying! It could be saying, “Speak up you dolt! Your accent is atrocious!” It might be oinking, “Yeah? In your ear, long-legs!” We didn’t create the pig, God did. God understands what the pig says, I don’t. The pig probably doesn’t understand what I said either, and yet, if I persist in making certain sounds and associating them with certain acts, the pig learns to come running why I shout “SOOOOOO-EEEEEEEE!

Our response to God is not a conditioned response like that pig’s. It is like an intuitive affinity for God’s voice. We are all built to hear him and so he calls everyone because everyone can hear. Not all respond, though. He shows us his power and good will toward us in every direction we can see, and is constantly beckoning for us to trust him enough to approach him. He surrounds us with endless proofs of his might, his love, his justice, his mercy, and sometimes even chastises or threatens us like a father scolding a child. He works on our inclination to know him and never stops beckoning. It is for us to realize that he draws us to him without compulsion, always allowing us to choose him when we realize there can be no better choice than his Perfection. What we might have perceived as obstacles become helps and pathways. We are as predisposed to go as he is predisposed to beckon us. As Augustine said, “a man is attracted by that in which he delights.” God delights in us, and we can choose to return that delight.

So why are there people who don’t, wont, or can’t? The first answer which comes to mind is a popular saying in our household: God knows, but he’s not telling. Well, that can’t be fully right, because God’s communiques are everywhere. A better answer is “God told me, but I wasn’t listening; then he showed me but I wasn’t watching. Then he drew me closer, but I fell down and refused to budge.” This puts us in mind of another passage perhaps nearly as perplexing as Paul’s letter to the Romans cited above. Let’s turn to John 6:44. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

So, Paul says God knew who could be conformed to the likeness of his Son and he called those “conformable” people. Jesus says no one will come to him unless God “draws him.” We need to look at that a moment and perhaps it will help us see more in the verse from Romans. This kind of “draw” is different from the kind of “draw” in most of the New Testament. The word in John 6:44 is the verb ἑλκύω [helkó] (hel-koo’-o) – to induce, draw in, attract, pull, persuade, lead, impel. The other word used for “draw” is σύρω [suró] (soo’-ro) as in dragged, like dragged to jail, or forced away, pushed away, pulled away. So, it’s pretty clear then that God does not cause us to be dragged, pushed, pulled, and prodded his direction. He calls us, and he also put a homing device – a spiritual GPS if you will – in our lives. That GPS is his Spirit. “He breathed in him the breath of life and man became a living soul.” He knows us because he is inside us. We know him because … he is inside us! And he wants us to be together! We are made for each other. Here’s another way to express that (and this was also the seed of this reflection) …

 

A Gaelic Prayer

A Gaelic Prayer

As the hand is meant for holding and the eye for seeing, you have created me for JOY, O God. Share with me in finding that joy everywhere: in the violet’s beauty, in the lark’s melody, in the child’s face, in a mother’s love, in the purity of Jesus. Amen.

– Traditional Gaelic Prayer

He is calling us, drawing us, waving to us, urging us, whistling to us, meowing, barking, and quacking to us – in other words he wants our attention because he wants us. And our neighbors are part of that “us.” Who are our neighbors? “EVERY LIVING SOUL.” God has done, is doing, and will complete his part in that. OUR part is to help. Pray, Beloved! Pray for the conversion of sinners, for the conversion of the WORLD, pray for the conversion of our neighbors (all 7.3 billion), pray for the conversion of our own hearts that we will all – you and me and our neighbors too – all will be drawn to him because the Father calls us.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Age Quod Agis
chick

 

PS: For more information,  read this.

PPS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY  SATURDAY TO MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE, CRUCITA!

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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