Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Power of One

“Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.” James 3: 5b

Several years ago I drove a small group of teens from my parish to visit Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio (I couldn’t do this now obviously because of all the new youth protection policies). The teens were hosted by former youth ministry members who were current students at the university and they had the opportunity to experience some classes, take a tour, eat cafeteria food, be immersed in the amazing spiritual atmosphere on campus and live real dorm life for the weekend. For the most part I left them alone and did my own thing. But on the Saturday night we were there, we all drove to Pittsburgh to PNC Park to watch the Pirates play the Cubs in baseball.

Well, as you can imagine, a game between these two teams got boring pretty quickly (although I do believe Sammy Sosa hit a home run into one of the rivers). In addition, we were in the third upper level way back above left field down the third base line and could barely see the field. Finally, we were with a group of 15-20 crazy Catholic college students who just wanted to have a good time.

At some point in the middle of the game, one of the students said, “Let’s get the Wave going”. For those not familiar with the “Wave”, it is where each section of the stadium stands up, raises their arms and cheers and the sits back down while in the same motion, the next section stands up and cheers just as the section before them sits down. If the whole stadium does it together, it looks like a giant “wave” rolling around the stadium. Now the stadium was packed with over 30,000 fans, so we had a daunting task.

We started by yelling to the people in our section and the section next to us that we were going to do this. Then we would count to three and all stand up, raise our arms and cheer as loud as we could. The first time or two most of the people in our section did it with us and maybe half of the next section, but then it fizzled out. Undaunted, we kept trying to no avail. Finally, we sent two-man teams to spread out at the bottoms of the next 7 or 8 sections after ours in order to act as cheerleaders to help each of those sections join us for the Wave. Once everyone was in place, we counted to three and started. The first time we got about 3 or 4 sections to do it with us, then 5 or 6, then 7 or 8 and then the fourth or fifth time of trying to get this thing going with our cheerleaders in place it took off and we watched in awe as the Wave rolled around the stadium from section to section on all three levels beginning from our very top left field spot all the way down the third base line, rounded behind home plate, sprinted up the first base line and charged around the outfield before sweeping back to us where we stood up and cheered and kept the ball rolling. By the time it fizzled out this time it had gone around the stadium three or four times! 30,000 people all doing the same thing because one person had an idea and a few friends helped to make it happen. 

God wants to use YOU! Never underestimate the power you have to influence, effect, or change others or our culture. Too often we limit the power of God and the good He desires to work through us because we feel inadequate, or fearful, or shy. God’s ability to use us has very little to do with our abilities and lots to do with our willingness to be used by Him. If we can wake-up each day and give God permission to use us we will be amazed at the opportunities we have to love someone, make a difference or to affect change in our world. The power is not FROM us, but the power is IN us if we live in Christ. So no matter your personality, your temperament, your gifts or your weaknesses—God can still use you, and God wants to use you. And a little YOU can go a long way in showing Christ to the world. We may not always see the results of our availability to God, but one day in heaven we will. And what an immense joy it will be to know how we touched others in so many big and small ways throughout our lives just by letting God’s power flow through us.

Dear Jesus, I give You permission to penetrate the deepest part of my heart today and to let Your grace fill me to overflowing so that I can be Your instrument to all I encounter. Amen.

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