Friday, August 5, 2011

The small pebble

Often, in our walk of faith, it is not the large boulders that cause us the most problems but the small pebbles that get into our shoes and cause us so much grief. Large boulders, after all, are easy to see and thus easy to avoid.  Small pebbles are everywhere, though, and hardly noticed until they have worked their way into an already sensitive area where they then begin to cause much difficulty.

Tonight, my small pebble was a night out singing karaoke. I really wanted to go. It isn't often that I work a shift that will allow me to enjoy the whole night out, and I had been thinking about it all week. I don't have a lot of money, but I had set aside some of the tip money I received this week in order to pay for the drinks (karaoke takes place in a bar). I had a dress and shoes ready. My heart was set on it. Then, my husband reminded me that we don't have the money for it. That money I had saved would be better spent elsewhere.  It was like being doused very suddenly with icy cold water.

This small pebble, a very tiny sliver of an infinitely tinier cross to bear, should have been easy. I should have been able to shrug it off, to give up that night to Jesus and be done with it. Yet it lodged in the tender, sore spots of my soul and caused me so much grief I couldn't even talk about it with my husband. It was a reminder of everything that's not going the way I planned it to be right now, and shook my confidence in a way the bigger problems hadn't really been able to do.

So, to help me get a handle on my problem, I turned to the Lord. I read today's Mass readings, searching for His words to me. The first reading was Moses reminding the Israelites of all that the Lord had already done for them and warning them, just before they were to enter into the promised land, to obey God or all that God had secured for them would be taken from them.  The psalms were a celebration of all the things that God has done for His people throughout the ages, of the victories He has secured for those who were faithful to Him.  The last passage, though, hit home. It was Jesus telling his disciples that anyone wishing to come after Him must be willing to take up the cross. God's answer to me and my whining was this: I am about to secure the victory for you. If you keep my commandments, and do not forget me, this victory will remain yours. In the meanwhile, pick up your cross and follow me. If you are not willing to deny yourself in the small things, how can I expect you to deny yourself in the larger things?

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