Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What's Missing?

This morning, I decided to make myself some coffee before I settled in to talk to God about my life, my business, and everything that's going on in my world. I've made coffee at least a hundred times before so this isn't a new process or something I'm unfamiliar with doing. I turned on the brewer and went to sit down with my prayer journal.

Presenting the Problem

I thanked him for confession with Father Patrick, my favorite spiritual director and priest, yesterday. I thanked him for the homework Father had given me of figuring out how much money I would need from an investor to make my Road to Sainthood game a viable product and business. I thanked God for helping me to connect with and share my gifts with Chris Palmore of GratitudeSpace.com.

Then, I wrote these words:
"Lord, I have 2 weeks to come up with next month's rent, ultilities, and cable bill. I have 4 weeks to come up with travel money. I'm concerned about it. Please, Lord, grant me the graces I need to place my trust in  you."

The coffee machine began beeping at me to let me know the coffee was finished brewing. I got up and began pouring myself a cup. I knew right away that something was wrong. The water in my cup was the color of a very weak tea. It was nowhere near the color it should have been if there were coffee brewing.

What Am I Missing?

The fact that the water came out told me something was missing. I thought through the steps I'd taken to prepare the coffee. That's when I realized I might have made the biggest mistake of all. I checked the area where the coffee grounds are supposed to go and I was correct. Oops. I'd forgotten the most important ingredient of all - the coffee grounds!!

That's when I realized what God was telling me. I was doing everything right. The "machine" was working perfectly. I had all the right ingredients except one - and that was the most important one of all. It goes right back to what I spoke about in yesterday's blog post on The Mercy of Excommunication. I entered into sin because I took my eyes off the reason why I was doing the work I was doing.

Now, God was telling me that the reason I had been working so hard and producing nothing out of it wasn't that I was doing anything wrong. It was that I was missing the most important ingredient of all - Love!

I wanted coffee. I was doing everything right to get what I wanted - coffee - except putting in the ingredient that made the work of the engine productive. I wasn't giving the engine coffee grounds and so it wasn't able to produce coffee for me. After all, the engine can only produce for you what you give it. I'd left it empty, and all it could give me was the remnants of what it had left from the last time I'd used it.

I was doing the same thing in my business. I was doing everything right. My "engine" - the methods I was using - were right. They were perfect. They were functioning exactly as intended. However, I was not putting in the ingredient that would make the work productive. I wasn't fueling it with love so I wasn't getting love out in return.

When You're Working Hard & Catching Nothing

It reminds me a lot of the story in Luke 5:1-11

"Once, while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake. the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then, he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."

Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets."

When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So, they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus's knees, saying,

"Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Seeking the Right Direction

If I'm fishing all night and catching nothing in a lake that teems with fish, obviously I'm doing something wrong. I need to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I need to seek out the right direction, someone who can help me figure out where I'm going wrong and what I need to do to fix it.

Scripture doesn't tell us that Peter was praying before Jesus came along. We do know that Peter had given up fishing for the day. He was cleaning his nets. Maybe he was cleaning those nets while he was grumbling in frustration over not being able to catch anything. Maybe what made Jesus choose Peter's boat instead of the other boat was all that grumbling and complaining he was doing.

"I know I'm a better fisher than this. Why aren't I catching anything? Why won't you help me, Lord? I have mouths to feed and bills to pay and if I don't catch these fish that's not going to happen!"

You can almost hear the discouragement and exhaustion in Peter's voice when he replies to Jesus that they have been working all night long and caught nothing. But, he accepted Jesus's direction and allowed himself to be guided by it even though he didn't really understand how it was going to be any different than what he'd done before. That simple direction of putting out into deep water and letting down the net - at the right time, with the right person guiding him - resulted in so large a catch that the nets nearly break.

The Promise

I heard what God was telling me loud and clear. If I wanted to catch an abundant harvest, I was going to have to put out into the deep waters and let Him direct my search. I was going to have to let him guide me in my "fishing" and direct me in my labors. I was also going to have to be sure that Love was in the boat with me, because without Love, my labors would all be in vain. 

When you want to coach people or write their stories, you have to love them first. You have to love them enough that their story and their success is a personal mission of yours. The money you make is just another way of measuring the depth of the service you've rendered.

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