When being a jackass is beneficial to my faith…
Devotional Thought of the day:
14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate. 15 Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. 16 Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
1 Timothy 4:14-16 (NAB)
998 O blessed perseverance of the donkey that turns the waterwheel! Always the same pace. Always around the same circle. One day after another, every day the same. Without that, there would be no ripeness in the fruit, nor blossom in the orchard, nor scent of flowers in the garden. Carry this thought to your interior life.
St Josemaria often referred to himself as a donkey, and as I finish reading his book, The Way, there is this quote, one that I believe is a key to the ministry he founded, and perhaps why he was able to persevere. The statement resonates with me, in that it is one of the things I need struggle with, what I call the Tyranny of the mundane.
While St Josemaria describes the animal like a donkey, if I were to insert myself into the story, I couldn’t choose the donkey. I would have to use the more coarse term, jackass for myself. And so I shall.
I struggle with the mundane, repetitive tasks, as always have. As an aspiring piano student, I wouldn’t do the drills my instructor wanted, I could sight read them easily enough. So my practice time was spent playing things like Billy Joel, Elton John, Styx, and Journey. I hated doing all the repetitive math problems, or any kind of “busy work.” I still do not! It doesn’t matter if it is work at the house, or at my office, or the things I do to take care of myself.
Its even easy to get lax in spiritual things, to allow them to become duties and not joys. To see them as obligations and monotonous duties rather than blessings. Whether it is the time in prayer, time in devotional or ministerial studies, time in worship and in taking the sacraments, it is far too easy to see these things as repetitive. This is what the Apostle Paul is warning Timothy about – the need to focus in, and persevere.
I am not so foolish as to think I will simply bypass such thoughts, and never feel that way.As I grow older, these times of temptation may be less, but they are still there, seasons where I can’t just be motivated on my own, seasons where I forget the blessing that awaits from doing what I cherish at other times.I call these times, my dry seasons. They come and go, but if I abandon my time with God during them, it is much harder to restart them. Much much harder.If I can keep going, if I can persevere, then eventually, the season will pass.. and I see what God is doing…
And this is where I need to become a jackass. Or perhaps it is better to say… become like a jackass?
The jackass doesn’t care if the work seems repetitive, redundant, monotonous. It simply does its job, aware that as it does, it will be cared for by those responsible for it. The jackass may never see the beauty its work provides, it may never get the connection between its work pumping water, and the feed it is given to nourish it. It just knows its task, and it does its job.
In endures, it perseveres, travels the same road over and over, and is content.
IN those times, where I don’t see the “payoff,” I need to trust in God’s promise. That I am His child, that He will never leave or forsake me, that this is all working for good, because He loves me, and is teaching, enabling and giving me the desire to love in response. For that is what these spiritual “disciplines” do.
Whether I see it, or not.
Whether you see it or not, this is true for you as well.
If you are in one of these dry seasons, keep going, persevere, the blessings are there, and you will, or others will see them as the dry season ends…..And be the jackass! Hmmm, that doesn’t sound quite right – how about, “act like a jackass? Hmmm no better… O well, you know what I mean.
If you abandoned it all during the last dry season, find a brother or sister who can help you get back to it. Return and spend time with God.
And with Him, you will find you dwell in peace! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2316-2319). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.