This past week we have been blessed once again with yet another visitor from the States. Prior to his arrival, I had asked if he would be willing to give my team and I a talk or a teaching for our spiritual growth and was extremely excited when he agreed to do so. Although I was aware that he was extremely spiritual and introspective, I was blown away by the retreat that he gave us and am so thankful for the ways in which I was challenged.
One interesting idea that he proposed during his talk last weekend, was emptying yourself out for the Lord and allowing yourself to be filled. This on its own accord is not necessarily a new idea, but he continued by saying that in order to continue in growth in holiness, we must allow and expect our hearts to be stretched through sufferings, pains, and trials. Whatever sized vessel we offer Christ to fill, we should trust Him to do just that. Not only is the time for trust and growth limited, we also must realize that we may only enlarge our vessel for the reception of His love while we are here on earth. This last idea scared me.
When I sat contemplating the size of the vessel that I was offering up to the Lord and begging Him to fill each day, I had hoped that I was at least the size of an above-ground pool. Something big, not Pacific Ocean big like the saints, but on its way. Then as my own thoughts stopped clogging my mind I noticed the image that Christ was showing me. I had been offering the Most High God a thimble and placing it at His feet. How pathetic! No wonder I have encountered trials. No wonder my heart has been pained. Christ has begun to stretch and pull my offering in order to make a larger container for Him to fill. This time that I have felt under a microscope, I should have praised Him and begged for more. How else can I see my flaws and where I am lacking in virtue?
I hope my friend’s words continue to ring in my ears, challenge me to accept changes that are humbling, and to acknowledge the myriad of Marian qualities I still need to be praying for. I beg with St. Paul that I may no longer live, but Christ in me. Lord Jesus, make my heart, my vessel, a crater! Stretch and pull and tear if You must! My identity should be lost and found in You, You alone. How else may I love others with Your heart, Your mind, and Your words? Our job as a Christian, as a Catholic is not 9-5, it is a never-ceasing witness that shows others the joy that comes from having a real personal relationship with Jesus. And if on our own mental list of best friends, or people that we run to in times of trouble or joy, does not list Jesus at the very top, then we still have room to grow.
We must all let go of what still plagues us: the words from family, friends, and loved ones that still have their sting, the apology we never got, and the things of this world that only keep us from following His perfect will. Stop and think, or just the ask the Lord, “How large is the vessel that I am offering You?” Then, allow Him to stretch and pull your vessel so that you may grow in your relationship with Him. If your trust is great then His generosity will be without limit! However, let not His good gifts be our motivation, but our ardent love for the Creator and Father of us all.