Lord, let me be your instrument
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS – STEP ELEVEN
The chapter, STEP ELEVEN in “Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions” published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., uses as its theme prayer the popular Prayer of St. Francis. The last stanza teaches:
“For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying to self that we are born
to eternal life.”
That last line of the prayer of St. Francis – it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life – creates a sense of timeless, never-ending spaces filled with nothingness. Eternity is, after all, a long, long time. I spent an eternity waiting for you at the grocery store. That boring movie lasted an eternity. The pastor’s homily seemed like an eternity. I suppose my point is this: who wants a life of endless moments of boring eternity? Eternity presents itself as action-less, a void filled with forever. What happens should we substitute everlasting for eternal? Everlasting life.
“Larry,” you are asking, “what’s the difference?”
I like to think that everlasting applies to values, to a faith that sustains, to a relationship with that Higher Power referenced in Step 11 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program. Everlasting has survived religious philosophies, social fads, and worldly obsessions. Everlasting will continue to the ‘other side’ of this life via the memories of us in those we leave behind and perhaps as a basis for our after-life continuance. Yes, it is eternal, but it is vibrant and exhilarating to behold.
Along with other faith-based Scriptures we often turn to the wisdom writers of Christianity’s Bible for inspiration. Galatians 5:22-23 names these everlasting gifts:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Against such things there is no ending. They endure. They are everlasting. Hallelujah, we can choose our eternity filling it with good fruit. Why would anyone want to fill life with hatred, unforgiveness, doubt, despair, darkness and misery when the everlasting gifts are freely available?
Make me an instrument of peace
where there is hatred, let me sow love
where injury, pardon
where doubt, faith
where despair, hope
where darkness, light
where sadness, joy
from the PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS
Again turning to Christianity’s wisdom literature, Matthew 19:16-24 relates the story of a wealthy, young man who encounters Jesus and asks,
“What good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus responds by telling him to keep the commandments, sell his possessions and give to the poor.
“Then come and follow me.”
The man went away saddened because he had great wealth. We are not told what the man chased – eternal joy or worldly comfort. Where is my wealth stored? Is it comprised of internal values that sustain or is it a temporal storehouse filled with stuff that will rust and rot? Lord, let me be an instrument – a tuba, loud and thundering with your peace and kindness. What would you be?