A hesitation, and a jump. This was my response to my principal on the way home from school one warm Wednesday evening when he asked if I could cover an extra class for CCD—8th grade girls. I wanted to make a good impression on my principal, and since it was a slower week, I figured an extra hour wouldn’t kill me. After I hesitated, I said yes.
After a much-needed 45-minute nap on our couch, I ventured back to the school for CCD that evening, dreading the fact that I had to go and envious of my housemates who were done for the day. I pulled into the parking lot and made my way onto the outdoor campus of the elementary school and up to the classroom.
The class went fine—slightly awkward, which was to be expected, but I’d completed what my principal had asked me to do. As the students were heading down the concrete stairs, they said to me, “Bye sir, we’ll see you next week!” Confused, I simply thought, “Where?” Then, the miscommunication dawned on me:
My principal had been asking me to cover the class not just for the evening, but for the whole year.
I was in for more of an adventure than I realized—one that would transform what I thought was more work into a fount of grace.
From that point on, I knew each Wednesday would be a marathon: up early to school to prep materials, teaching all day, then two classes of CCD in the evenings. I would go home to rest for what little time I had, and as the time to leave rapidly approached, my mind would start thinking of ways to get out of teaching that evening.
Reluctantly, I would show up to the classroom, put the Bibles around the room, and await the students’ arrival. But, without fail, before we would begin class each week, I would invoke the Spirit’s intercession—Come, Holy Spirit. In hesitation, I’d jump.
There was more to those three words than a first glance lends. Come, Holy Spirit, please. I don’t have the energy to teach. I’m not sure what I’m doing. I don’t have a background in theology. I’m not adequately prepped for this lesson. I’m not a good enough model for these kids…etc., etc., etc.
From these concerns, the prayer welled up from within me: Come, Holy Spirit.
That’s a dangerous prayer to pray. In praying those words, we humbly submit ourselves to the movement of the Spirit; that means we choose to relinquish control of a situation, and we’re okay with it turning out different than we expect. We do this joyously because we know and trust that our God has nothing but gifts to offer. He will make something beautiful of whatever we invite Him into, perhaps better than we could have thought possible. But it’s not a one-and-done yes. It’s a relationship of trust that, similar to any other relationship, requires surrender to the other.
I still doubted each week. I still dreaded going to CCD, frustrated that I had unintentionally agreed to teach this class. Yet each week, the Spirit invited me to surrender, and each week I left feeling on top of the world. I was overwhelmed with the joy of seeing someone else grow closer to Jesus. It was humbling to be part of these glimpses of grace, given all the fears, doubts, and inadequacies that I carried into that classroom. In seeking the Holy Spirit’s intercession, I gave God permission to use me as a conduit of His grace.
I’m convinced that the peak of the human experience is allowing the Lord’s unconditional love to flow through us to those around us. Apart from receiving Christ’s Real Presence, I believe it is as close to heaven as we can get on this side of the dirt.
When I said yes, I didn’t know what I was saying yes to. But, by the power of the Spirit, I showed up, trusting that He would bring something good out of each surrender. Over time, what started as exhaustion and obligation was transformed into eager anticipation. I looked forward to going to that class and enjoyed it so much, I chose to teach the same group of students the next year as they became freshmen. And all this grace came from a little miscommunication. The joy I experienced in teaching CCD was a large part of my vocational discernment. I hope to continue following the Spirit on this adventure, continuing to offer a little “yes” each day.
Adventure itself reminds us of Advent. In fact, the two words are related, both having their root in “that which is to come.” This is what the Lord desires for us, to take us on an adventure as He draws us into sharing His radical love with others, transforming us into conduits of grace.
We can see this perfectly exemplified in a young girl from Nazareth, Mary, our Mother. With her “yes,” her “Come, Holy Spirit” prayer, she became a conduit for the greatest grace in human history, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
In this season of Advent, we allow the Spirit who comes to expand our hope through a joyous, patient waiting—that we might most fully receive the Lord’s arrival, not only the arrival in the manger, nor the one to come at the end of time, but the one that is happening right now. He, too, is waiting—waiting for your “yes.”
Where are you hesitating right now? Where is the Lord inviting you to jump? Where is the Lord inviting your “yes?” Will you let Him in?
A hesitation, and a jump. Come, Holy Spirit!
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