“And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:5)
By the grace of God, I am involved in music ministry in our parish. I have no voice training, so I am always amazed at people who can harmonize, seemingly without effort. It occurred to me recently that these people, by singing “wrong” are vastly enhancing the beauty of the piece. There is a lesson here for all of us, who even on our best days have only weakness to offer God.
Scripture may be said to be, from beginning to end, a volume of examples of God writing straight with crooked lines, taking what we do “wrong” and making something beautiful out of it. At the Easter Vigil we sing of the “happy fault” the “necessary sin of Adam that won for us so great a Redeemer”. Moses tried to talk God out of using him for mission because he felt inadequate for the task. Isaiah, in the verse above, bemoans his weakness, his unworthiness to serve God. St. Peter asked Jesus to “Go away from me, for I am a sinful man!”
All of these chosen souls eventually let go of their own self-assessment and abandoned themselves to the plan of God. Was that the end of their weakness? One only has to look at the Gospel accounts of St. Peter before Pentecost to see that weakness was never more than one misstep away. I think that is what makes him so appealing to the rest of us. He feels like a true brother to us in the big, messy family of God. In the end, God worked miracles of glory in spite of the weaknesses of these faithful, humble, trusting souls.
Throughout Scripture, God works wonders despite our faults and failings, and brings his holy people to places unimagined. This is something we would do well to keep in mind during these days of trial by fire. God has only ever used imperfect souls to accomplish his will. Indeed, since the Assumption of Our Lady, imperfect souls are all he has had to work with! But this must not lead us to despair, even when everything appears to be careening out of control at breakneck speed down a winding mountain path. Like spectators at an epic movie—where we already know the glorious ending—we can only anticipate with wonder the ways our Hero will use to get us out of one desperate scrape after another.
For our part, we must remain humble enough to say “Yes!” when our Hero asks us to perform some task that we know very well we are not capable of, and to trust Him when we see him using other imperfect souls to accomplish his will. We are not called to tell God how to do his job, nor who He should use to accomplish His will. We are not called to criticize those He is using. We are called to make our own fiat in faith, hope and trust in the glorious plan of God, to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and try always to be a sign of hope for others, so that the glorious harmonies of God can be heard and enjoyed by all.
May our Lenten observance of fasting and abstinence serve to make us ever more humble and faithful, that we may grow in trust in the glorious plan of God.