You who have so worried over what to do have both welcomed and feared the idea of some kind of service being required of you. . . . To be of service to God is not to be a slave to God but to attend to God. To give God your attention and your care. C: 29.3
I’ve been working diligently on finishing up the audio of ACOL the last week or so. I’ve been at it for the always appropriate nine months, but now I’m on the home stretch. Just a couple of chapters to go, and seeing the end in sight, looking forward to having it done in the next few days. The “end of summer” that August is has been heightened. Later this week I have a friend visiting from out-of-town and the annual family excursion to the Minnesota State Fair. The pressure, you might say, is on.
I have a love/hate affair going with pressure, as most of us likely do. I don’t know if this pressure is better or worse when it is self-imposed. My publisher is a “better sooner than later,” but basically no pressure kind of guy. My pressure comes from within and there are things that happen that make the timing seem right.
This week was exactly this way. You want a reason why you’re feeling the way you do? Well, when you do, often enough, the universe responds. Here it is.
So let me back up. I’ve had a notion for some time of “telling my story” with ACOL, but I wanted to find some writing I knew was around somewhere, that would give me the “actuals.” What was I “really” feeling then…not the “this is how I remember it” kind of thing. This week I found some of my writing from 1998.
I’m working on Chapter 29 or about to, as I find this writing. The date of it is November 5, 1998. I’d been off of work for nearly nine months, awaiting the “work for God” that I felt had been promised me in a dream and emphasized again and again in feelings the strength of which were driving me a little crazy. My family’s finances were horrible and I felt I had to return to work, something that absolutely couldn’t be avoided a minute longer if I was going to be just sitting around waiting. This is what I wrote in my journal of the time:
Please do not leave me here much longer. Help me feel inspired. Help me to feel as if I’m doing what you want me to do. Let me know what you want me to do. Guide me into the world or give me confidence and joy with which to find fulfillment in this small one I’m so loathe to leave. I feel as if I’ve come to this point—so that I’m ready to follow. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. MY PLANS AREN’T WORKING. MY WAY IS NOT SO FANTASTIC. I need something now and I know it. I don’t want to give up my quiet and my freedom and my days alone, but I know I need something besides this. I’ve read all these stories about people who said, “God, my life is in your hands. Do with me what you will. Show me the way.” And how their lives immediately changed. Have I not been saying this? Or saying it and not meaning it? If so, I mean it now. I’m “down on my knees.” MY LIFE IS YOURS. PLEASE USE IT. THIS IS WHAT I AM ASKING AND BEGGING. TO BE USED. IT’S TIME FOR ME TO QUIT LOOKING FOR THE USE TO WHICH TO PUT ALL THE THINGS I’VE BEEN GIVEN AND IT’S TIME FOR ME TO BE USED. I CAN’T STAND NOT BEING USED ANYMORE. I MAY NOT KNOW HOW TO GIVE IT, BUT I KNOW I HAVE A LOT TO GIVE. JUST SHOW ME THE WAY LORD. JUST SHOW ME YOUR WAY. THIS IS MY ONE GOAL, MY ONE HOPE—THAT YOU WILL USE ME. I KNOW NOW THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I WILL BE FILLED. THE ONLY WAY I CAN FULFILL YOUR PLAN FOR ME, FILL THE SPACE YOU HAVE OPENED FOR ME HERE ON EARTH IN WHICH TO BE WHO I AM AND DO WHAT I’M MEANT TO DO. JUST USE ME, LORD. PLEASE USE ME. CHOOSE ME. THANK YOU. PLEASE ANSWER THIS PRAYER.
Just about three weeks later, on December 1, 1998, A Course of Love began to come to me.
When I first read that paragraph, I thought asking to be “used” sounded like such “old” language. I was surprised by it, and it gave me pause, even while I thanked God for it. For finding it. I never would have “remembered” asking to be “used” and it felt so poignant as I read it. But then I found this in Chapter 29 (another passage of ACOL I’d forgotten):
You who would cry, God make use of me, only need to give to God your devotion and your willingness to serve instead of use. C:29.3
This whole Chapter has that feel of “old” language. Who does speak of service to God these days? Who thinks in terms of giving God our attention and our care? What could God possibly need . . . or need of us? You and me? A little further on in Chapter 29, this question is answered:
Your gifts, your talents, your uniqueness, are your service. Can you not look at them thus? And can you not come to understand the reciprocal nature of giftedness? That what God has given only needs to be received? That what you have received only needs to be given? The indivisibleness of God is simply this: an unbroken chain of giving and receiving. Thus is this a definition of unity as well. C:29.25