Last year I was doing some late night shopping at the supermarket. If you have ever worked second shift you know that this time is the best do get shopping done. The store is empty and quiet. There are no lines at the registers, no kids running from aisle to aisle, and parking is wide open. You get in and get out. Which was my plan that night. As I was making my way around the store I saw this guy down one of the aisles that looked familiar. I couldn’t remember his name but could remember that he used to be in the same engineering degree program that I’m in. My program for the most part is distance learning from Platteville but occasionally the local students will meet with the lab instructor nearby and I remember running into him there. But it had been a year or two since that time and so I assumed he either switched degrees or dropped out. Either way I carried on with my shopping. As I checked out I saw him again in another line and again I wondered what had happened to him. I grabbed my bags and was almost to my car door and suddenly a thought hit me. Why don’t you go over and ask him what he’s been up to? So I put my bags away and caught him on his way out. We started talking and he told me about his struggles with the course work, that he enjoyed it, but that graduation seemed so far away and he lost ambition with it. Which were exactly the same thoughts I have had since I started the program which I conveyed and then I let him know about opportunities that started opening up like paid internships and other things that have helped me along the way. I explained that even though graduation seemed so far away I knew that looking back at all the hard work and the realization of how better my life would be twenty years from now I kept on pushing forward. It was a good conversation and I left thinking I hope some of that resonates with him. Three weeks ago I ran into him at school during one of our lab projects. This time he approached me and explained that after our encounter he decided to get back into the program. He said it was the tipping point for him to get back on the horse and push forward with the dream that once seemed too large to tackle. He thought if someone else is going through the same struggle and is almost there, he could to.
I didn’t know that it would be the tipping point for him. In fact when I decided to check in with him I was just more curious than some ultimate plan to convince him back into the program. But our conversation turned from informational update to sharing experiences and realizing that we were both going through the same struggle. Empathy grew from our conversation and to be honest it was the stem of it. It was through that empathy that he found himself in me and initially was what drove me to say something. But where did it come from? It certainly isn’t something that I create. I am confident that it comes from the Lord. It is through His understanding of our struggles that we can understand how each of us struggle. And I believe that The Holy Spirit was active in nudging me (twice for that matter) last year to go over and engage with this man.
It’s the smaller nudges that I find over time are what keep me striving to live in Christ. By examining our daily lives even with the small sized activities we engage in we can see Christ working in our lives and how our relationship with Him is shaped and can be shaped by these interactions. For me, my daily practice of Morning Prayer nurtures that relationship and allows me to have Christ on my mind more often than not. And to use scripture as inspiration in the daily decisions that I make. My only fear in life these days is missing out on the chances that I can live in Christ. I think to myself about all the missed opportunities I must have had in the past where He was telling me to attend a service, or talk to fellow parishioners, or help with a ministry, etc. I’m sure there are a lot that I have missed. I just don’t want there to be any more calls gone unanswered. My hope is that you don’t either. I’m sure there are plenty of chances for you to join a ministry or attend a service or engage in conversation with someone at church that you felt a small nudge to but thought against it for some reason. Take the challenge, no matter how small it might be, and answer that nudge.
Last month, a question was sent out in email about the possibility of holding a spiritual healing event at Grace. I didn’t know where it would go. And to be honest it stemmed from me looking at the Episco-facts page on the church website where I was reading about our proto-shrine. I thought to myself what an amazing gift we have at Grace and why shouldn’t we share it with others. From that conversation it was realized that there’s a lot of people at Grace who don’t know much about what goes on at the shrine. The activity at the shrine looks intriguing to most people but they’re just not too sure about it. And as that conversation grew it was determined that in May Dcn. Michele will be leading education on spiritual healing during adult formation on Sundays. Perhaps in the past you may have had the same thoughts about the shrine and what the healing is all about. Perhaps in the past you thought about going over to receive the healing but you just weren’t comfortable with it. If so, I suggest you come and learn about this ministry. Follow that nudge so that you can understand that through spiritual healing the Lord shows us how we can rely on Him and each other to help carry our burdens. Other opportunities will come up this summer that involve outreach, education, worship, etc. And each of them will be opportunities for you to engage in answering these nudges. When He whispers in your ear to come and be with Him, you should say “Yes Lord, I will come!” Almost always when you answer it appears daunting at first. It’s in the hindsight where the true reality of the difficulty becomes clear. And most times it’s not as bad as you initially thought. And if you don’t answer God’s call you’ll still be looking back at it eventually. You’ll either be telling yourself, “Oh that’s what you were telling me, crap! I missed it” or “Thank God that I answered because it was amazing!” Let’s pray that we do the latter and when The Holy Spirit nudges us to learn, worship, or help build the church we will answer “Yes!”
Your Brother in Christ, Paul Aparicio