I had an epiphany of sorts this week. While reflecting on the readings for the memorial of Sts. Peter and Paul, I began to think of how two men who share the same feast day also share a common cause: building the Kingdom. But, while each man was journeying to the same destination, they each took different paths. Peter ministered to the Jews and Paul ministered to the Gentiles. Two men with a common goal but very distinct audiences and challenges.
I began to think about how I pray. For the first time in 28 years I am without a full time job. My prayer had been to ask Jesus “what” he wanted me to do with my life. That made me think about the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets that had been so popular. Then I thought: is my question really about “what” Jesus would do, or is it more about “how” Jesus would do it. Or, better yet, “how” Jesus would want ME to do it.
Like Peter and Paul, I have zeroed in on my target destination. I want to grow in holiness and use my skills as a deacon, as leader, and as an instructor to help others in their work. Having been exposed to working in a Catholic hospital for the past two months on a temporary assignment, I see how my skills and desires work well in such an environment. To paraphrase the Mission Statement for St. John’s Mercy Medical Center where I am working as a Credentialed Trainer, the best environment for me to work in is where I can “make a difference by touching the lives of those I serve with compassion and exceptional service.”
Maybe this is just semantics, but I think there is something to the idea of looking at the “how” and not the “what” in modeling the way of life Jesus taught us. I think it is worth praying about.
Yogi Berra is attributed as saying, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it!” There is more wisdom in that saying than you might think. On our Christian journey we may come to many forks in the road. Like Peter and Paul, we may have to choose which path to take to serve the Lord. We are committed to growing in our faith (i.e., we have bought into the “what”), now we need to work on the “how.” We need to take time in prayer, acknowledging that God talks to us every day. The message is not “follow me” (we’ve already committed to that). The message God sends, if we are willing to listen, can help us advance further on our journey toward our heavenly destination. The question is not “what” would Jesus have us do, but “how” he would have us do it.
For me, that means constantly plodding forward, keeping myself open to serving God in ways I never envisioned, and trusting that whenever I reach a fork in the road toward Jesus, I only have to listen with my heart to understand “how” Jesus wants me to proceed.