When I first had my conversion I often times would seek out poor people to share with in the streets of Dallas. I had a deep desire to show Christian charity so of course I would leave my house or school and go to this particular stop light to talk to a man who was homeless and had only one arm. I thought to myself, “This is what the Christian life is all about.” It took a long time before I realized that while I was setting up these moments of grace for myself I was missing the opportunities for grace that God had set up for me in my daily life. I did well loving the rough, un-kept, homeless or the stranger who I needed to share with but I would overlook the person close to me who needed to hear about Jesus. I was patient with those people I gave retreats to but so impatient with those at school or in my family that really needed me. Finally I would do these extreme penances and prayer sessions but I would complain about or avoid the slightest inconvenience or uncomfortable situation. I have always been interested and intrigued by the extreme acts of penance performed by the Saints but I have never been that interested in accepting the crosses placed before me in each moment of life.
At the root of this problem is Pride. In essence what I was doing was saying to God, “I will choose where to receive grace and where to battle.” Sure I loved those homeless people but I wasn’t loving my neighbor who God was clearly sending to me to minister to. I would sleep on the floor for penance but I wouldn’t inconvenience myself in the slightest by changing my schedule to accommodate a friend.
God is constantly sending us opportunities for grace. Take every opportunity to grow in grace and virtue. Fight every temptation that comes along. Love every person put in your path.
Here are some thoughts to help you seize the moments of grace that God sends you:
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.