Alan had a deep love for Jesus, and he wanted others to know Him, too. Soon after joining the Catholic student ministry at the university, he sought out other students to help him start a retreat program. Alan invited these leaders to go with him on retreat at another college so they, too, could have the experience. While growing as a team, the group’s inexperience made it difficult to launch a program that school year. But God works in mysterious ways, and at the moment the team was ready to call it quits for the year, he sent them a new chaplain, and under his leadership, they organized their first retreat for college students.
God was working with them in other ways, too. The students made exciting plans to expand the campus ministry during the following year. Alan would take on a major role in the process, but the demands of that position would cut him out of future participation in retreat planning, and that bothered him.
After all, they wouldn’t even have a retreat if it wasn’t for him, right? The retreats were moving, and it felt good to be part of helping others know God and grow spiritually. His position during the next year, while critical to the overall success of the campus ministry, would also be mundane, lots of work, and largely unappreciated. Alan felt like he was cut out of the best part and he wasn’t too happy about it.
Having It Out with God
One evening, when feeling particularly sorry for himself, he decided to go for a long walk and tell God just what he thought about His way of doing things. He started out with the “It isn’t fair” and “I don’t deserve this” complaints. But after a while, he realized his arguments were more about his pride and satisfying his ego than doing God’s will. As he began to resign himself to saying “yes” to whatever God had for him, he was filled with peace and struck by how much Jesus loved him. What started out in anger and complaint ended with a heart bursting with love for God.
Another Door Opens
That was about the time he got back to his dorm. Arriving back on the floor where he stayed, he passed a floor-mate named Bill. Alan didn’t know Bill very well, who threw out the perfunctory, “How ya doing?” as he passed Alan in the hall. But to Bill’s surprise, Alan stopped, looked Bill in the eye, and said: “Really well. I just realized how much God loves me.”
You could only imagine what was running through Bill’s mind at that moment. He managed to come back with, “Um, that’s good.” What Alan didn’t know was that the Spirit of God used this brief encounter to open a crack in Bill’s heart, arousing curiosity and yearning. A few months later, Bill would go on his first retreat, fall in love with Jesus, and eventually become one of the retreat leaders— something made possible because Alan let go and surrendered to God. Alan learned that God could not work through him while he focused on himself and his selfish misery. Letting go and making himself available to God opened the door to joy, peace, and purpose.
Letting Go is part of a series on spiritual heroism, where one overcomes obstacles to allow God to work in his or her life.