By BRENDA HOPF
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
Now that the trees have shed their leaves, I find myself occasionally standing at our kitchen window watching the squirrels effortlessly scurrying across branches and jumping from tree to tree in the woods behind our house. They are undaunted by how far they are from the ground and what might happen should they fall. How can this be? Why is it they can do this so effortlessly and without hesitation?
As I continued to watch the squirrels, I surmised that the only logical explanation for why these squirrels can glide across branches and jump from tree to tree without hesitation is the fact that God created them in such a way as to be able to do this. Obviously, no one told them that it is dangerous to be that high in the air, jumping from tree to tree. The mother in me just wants to go out there each time I see them and tell them to get down right now before something happens.
As I continued to watch the squirrels, the light bulb came on. How many times do we have to hear it? God created each one of us with unique gifts so that we might experience the joy of fulfilling our mission as a part of the Body of Christ. Just as God gave those squirrels the ability to be able to glide across branches and jump from tree to tree, the same is true for us. No, not literally “jumping from tree to tree;” but wisely using our individual, unique gifts to accomplish what God has created us to accomplish as a vital part of the Body of Christ.
I challenge us all during this Advent to make and take advantage of some quiet time to listen to the Holy Spirit; to ask for clarity in a noisy world. Let us pray that each one of us can discern what gifts we have been given and in what way the Lord wants us to use them. Now, more than ever, we are needed to confidently use our God-given gifts without hesitation, just as the squirrels confidently jump from tree to tree. Our world, and in particular our nation and our Church, need us to step up and be the person God created us to be. Like the squirrels, we must not be afraid to fall.
During Advent, we look forward to celebrating the anniversary of Christ’s first coming; and we also eagerly anticipate his second coming at the end of time, or the moment of our death. As we prepare for these two comings, let us not forget that there is a third; the coming of Christ in our lives each day through grace and the reception of the sacraments, in the people we meet and the circumstances we encounter. It is this coming that will help us to discern in this most critical time for our nation and our Church just what it is that God is calling us to do through the gifts he has bestowed on us. We may not believe we can make a difference, but the change needs to start somewhere. Let it be with each one of us. Let’s work together. Let us be undaunted just as the squirrels are as they jump from tree to tree. Let us together use what God has given us to change the world. Remember, there is a second coming and then it will be too late.
Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.