"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Being About My Father’s Business

By Micky Wolf

Our deck has been home to two luscious basil plants this summer. Amidst a record hot season, they have outdone themselves in producing a crop of delicious leaves for several batches of fresh pesto. Awesome, incredible flavor. Oh, did I say, mouth-watering?

While it is true the young plants were robust and healthy when we brought them home in the spring, it is also true their abundance was due to regular watering—and pruning. Periodically cutting and removing the seed pods and weak or unhealthy stems helped assure the energy of the plants would go into producing a plentiful crop of leaves.

Pruning plants during the growing season is not harmful, but in fact, strengthens them; similarly, the work of God’s hand in forming and shaping us into more Christ-like human beings. However, this is where we must be careful in our understanding of the way God prunes us—He cuts to remove the seeds and unhealthy stems of our sinful, impure parts and the attitudes and behaviors of our flesh which contradict and impede the growing and maturing of His Divine Will in and through us.
Pruning, at the hand of the Master, is all about the bigger picture. When we choose to allow God’s will for our life to prevail rather than our own, we can let go and surrender to what He does best, while turning our attention and energy to our part of the process—“I [Jesus] must be about my Father’s business”. When we make this our priority, God will snip and cut in His time and plan. So, in the example Jesus, what does it mean to be about my Father’s business?

Obedience, first and foremost

When we sense God the Father calling us to a specific mission or the simplest of tasks, we need to pay attention and focus on that particular obedience in that particular moment. It is not so much about being in a certain place or with certain people, but of having a right heart attitude.

The basil plant produces basil leaves. Nothing else. That is its job, its business. If we call ourselves Christians, being about the Father’s business is to reflect and live the image and likeness of Christ. The more we cooperate with the process of being pruned—shaped into sons and daughters of the Most High God—the more consistently our behaviors and actions reflect obedience to His will rather than our own. Consequently, we cannot help but produce a greater ‘crop’ of Christ-centered Love.

Must eliminates doubt

Most translations of Scripture use the word must or need when Jesus speaks of being about his Father’s business—which leaves no room for doubt about his intentions. None. When we are clear about our commitment to serving God in obedience, we will not wander about in fear and confusion. Our mission and purpose is clear: love God and others as self. Yes, we may wonder at times how we are to use the gifts and tools He has given each of us, but the fundamental and foundational Truth of consciously making the choice to love—the heart of the Father’s business—is never in doubt.

When must is the word you [must] use as did Jesus, you know you must—love, engage, and serve. The depth and breadth of this must springs into life and action with authentic intensity, passion, and fire in your spirit in accordance with the One who has called you. You cannot do anything else. Passivity, double-mindedness, and indifference simply do not exist for you. 

Fanatical is good

Jesus—and a long list of those who preceded him, as well as some of his contemporaries—were routinely considered to be fanatics. John the Baptist, the Twelve, Elijah, Abraham, Moses, Ruth and Esther, to name a few. However, say the word fanatic these days and all kinds of images pop into our heads, most having to do with terrorist activities. That’s unfortunate. The loss of the true meaning of being fanatical for God has been swept to the curb with the rest of the day’s trash.

A fanatic is a person described as having excessive enthusiasm and uncritical devotion. [Merriam Webster Dictionary] It doesn’t take much to realize any of us can be fanatical about pretty much anything—from a certain food to our faith and well beyond.

On the other hand, when we are fanatical for the building up of the Kingdom of God, we go about the Father’s business in single-mindedness [obedience], an absence of doubt [must], and with hearts of great enthusiasm and uncritical devotion for Him and His desires, all of which He can use to empower, encourage and lift up others, rather than tear down or destroy whatever is in our path.

It has been several weeks of wonderful harvest from the basil plants. However, in recent days of diminishing daylight and cooler temperatures, the light breezes and patches of gray clouds are signaling the change from summer to fall. There are fewer leaves now, and those are smaller. They have served us well.

And so go the seasons of the handiwork of God in pruning and shaping each of us. 

How do I feel about being pruned by God?

Is obedience to His will rather than mine a priority?

What does I must mean to me?

How do I feel about being fanatical in being about my Father’s business?


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