New Year's Resolution: Go at God's Speed

Here are some reflections by oblate Bruce B — very fitting for a time of year when we reflect on how we most want to live our lives, especially regarding how our spirituality might inform the shape of our work lives:

There was a time when I worked 60-90 hrs a week and a couple of things turned my life around. The first was learning to say “no.” Whenever I said no to excessive need for my time I felt stronger or more empowered. No, helped to set healthy boundaries for myself and it caused others to respect my time.

I also began repeating every waking minute for an entire year, “God performs that which I am called to do.” After a year another Bible verse popped into my thoughts, “of my own self [meaning my false self] I can do nothing.”

Also during this year I was continuously invited by the Holy Spirit to slow down. All year long I would slow my life down only to find I was still going fast and to slow down more. In the end I learned that the speed of my human busyness was preventing me from seeing the speed of God. In God’s time everything is already done. When I became more in line with God’s ways I found that when I would arrive at a destination to do a task the work was already done.

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4 thoughts on “New Year's Resolution: Go at God's Speed

  1. Bruce, I wonder if you might say more about the last line. What does it mean to “arrive at a destination to do a task” and find that “the work was already done?”

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  2. Bruce Baumgartner

    Dear Amy
    I will give you an example from my late teacher I learned about this from and from my own life too.
    MY FRIEND’S STORY
    My friend a retired catholic priest told me about being asked to lead the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference out in Anaheim California many years ago. The conference was at the Anaheim stadium and it was more than sold out [about 20k people], the police had to turn away crowds of people. He attributed this to the work of the Holy Spirit and not to the reputation of profound healing happening through his ministry. He told me he peaked out at the mass of humanity assembled that night just before he went on stage and he was amazed and delighted. Many people had already brought their crutches and wheel chairs to the stage and more were approaching. He said that the Holy Spirit had already done the work he was called to do and all he did was go out and ratify the work by giving thanks and praise to God.
    MY STORY
    Early autumn of 2001 my priestly friend had a stroke and I was one of his around the clock caregivers during his recovery. We canceled all of his ministerial engagements for the season or we tried but one would not cancel. They held out hope he would recover quickly and come to Madison Wisconsin where many people had registered for the healing service. All of us in the ministry wanted to serve them but we were occupied with caregiving and running the office. When they realized my friend would not recover in time they asked if someone else could come and help those in need of spiritual healing. As it turned out one our friends returned from working on the road and would be available to help with caregiving. Suddenly I was called to a position I had never encountered before. I was to be the one to lead the healing service at the Benedictine monastery in Madison. Talk about a fish out of water! In the ministry I ran programs for spiritual growth and never healed anyone in my life. I understood what was needed at a healing service because I always set up for them but never was I a leader or healer. In fact I could not heal a fly.
    At first I was okay because I had a week to prepare the talk I was to give about spiritual healing. The demands of the week caused time to fly leaving me unprepared. In desperation I grabbed a stack of books and notes to review during my drive to Madison. I became more nervous the closer I got to the monastery and I felt like a disaster waiting to happen when I arrived. The conference room was packed and some people were wrapped in blankets they were so sick. Yes, I felt like a dead duck! How could I serve so many people and I had no idea what to do about the healing service. Thankfully some friends showed up who had experience with healing work and thought I would rely on them to do the healing.
    About three minutes before I was to speak I put my stack of books and notes inside the podium and wondered how I should start my talk. All of a sudden four words popped into my thoughts and I wrote them down on a note card. When I was introduced I could feel that the people were unsettled as they had just come from the world and were still carrying many concerns. I asked everyone to put their notebooks and water bottles on the floor and led them in a meditation. Once the meditation was over the room was calm and I looked at the first word I had written down. The word inspired me and I spoke until I ran out of things to say. Then I looked at the second, third and fourth words and repeated until I was all finished about forty-five minutes later. I remember people laughing and enjoying what I said but when I was done I could not remember anything about the content of my talk. While many people came up to me afterwards to say they were inspired and to compliment me, on the way home I had to ask my friend exactly what I said.
    I tried to turn the healing part of the service over to those with healing experience as God was obviously working through them. Since we had limited time and there were many people the healers asked if I would help. I thought I could bless those people who were not very sick and when I stood up to help, people quickly formed a line in front of me to heal them. When I laid my hand on the forehead of first person she immediately fell in the spirit and so did many others who followed. No one was more surprised by that than me, as it was a first. Obviously God performed what I was called to do because I was unable to do such work by my own strength and understanding. I know some saints talk about being a fool for God and I believe I was one on that day in Madison.
    My discipline of repeating, “God performs that which I am called to do,” began to move me from trying to get God into my life, to me being in God’s life. My spiritual discipline like all spiritual disciplines led me to listen to and follow God in ways I never imagined. After twelve years of letting myself be drawn deeper into God’s life I know what happened for me, as a simple layperson, is possible for everyone.

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  3. Thanks for the lucid example! I thought of it just now as I read Ps. 127:1-2: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain on it; unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman keeps vigil in vain. In vain do you rise early and stay up late, you who toil for the bread you eat; God provides as much for God’s loved ones while they sleep.”

    Now . . . how does such one show up at a job for pay and find the work already done? 🙂

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  4. I stumbled across this post a few days ago and find myself returning to it now. It really struck a cord with me as I’m tempted to think outcomes and achievement are something I need to control through excessive worry and work. Thank you for the reminder that it is God who does the work, not me.

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