Donald O'Dell holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree in history from North Texas.
As an ordained United Presbyterian minister, he served as a street gang minister in Trenton, NJ. In addition he had two separate pastorates in Oklahoma, where he also served as Chaplain in a county hospital. He continued to serve smaller congregations after he joined the private sector in business.
Today he enjoys a semi-retired living in North Carolina. He also remains an active in networking with groups and organizations in new thought and critical thinking strategies.
We have all been in situations where some tragedy has befallen someone we love. Perhaps a child has been hit by a car and is clinging to life after emergency surgery. Perhaps we have witnessed global military atrocities and pray for them to stop. We see refugees fleeing from organized governmental terror only to sit inside baking tents watching their children slowly die of starvation. We want that to be stopped. So we pray for these reasonable and compassionate outcomes. However, we will always end our prayers with some form of the phrase “… if it be Thy will.”
For so many of us we pray to the God of our understanding that His will be done – but in the back of our minds we know what it is we think Her will should be. If we look at scripture and review our favorite passages, then we think we KNOW what God’s actions should be. In fact we believe we have been spiritual enough or religious enough that our wills have been conformed to God’s will.
My friend, Michael Z (MichaelZ@thewisdomoftherooms.com) in one of his weekly posts states, “… The harder I tried to control people, places and things presuming God’s will was in alignment with mine, the more uncontrollable my life became.“ He went on to describe how much more resentful, aggravated, disappointed, frustrated and angry he found himself. Nothing, not even God, was working in his favor. Where was his serenity as a result of working this closely with this God of his understanding?
Last week I wrote about my doing AA’s Twelve Steps and that now I am doing A Course In Miracles (ACIM’s) daily Lessons from the Workbook for Students. The emphasis I placed in last week’s message was in the doing! I have done ACIM’s lessons before, but this year I have done them with more earnestness – maybe because of the Trump phenomenon or maybe because I am really ready. “When the student is ready, the teaching (or teacher) appears.” I don’t know which reason it is and I don’t really care, because it doesn’t really matter to me.
What does matter is that I am doing the Lessons – not just reading them or reading the commentaries on them and concluding. “Well, that makes sense. I think I am getting the gist of this.” I am doing them. Just like doing the Twelve Steps transformed my life, doing these Lessons is having a profound effect on me.
The other day, I was at my pharmacy to pick up a prescription and they hadn’t received it yet from my doctor. I went to the doctor’s office, mentioned this to them and they took care of it then – apologizing for the delay. I went back to the pharmacy about 2 hours later and it still wasn’t ready. However, as I was standing in front of the clerk I was thinking, “He is doing his job. I can see in his face he is getting aggravated with the customer in front of him (and ahead of of me).” As I walked up, I thought of the short version of the day’s Lesson and from somewhere in the recesses of my mind, came the words, “Sometimes, dealing with unruly customers, I have found my patience stretched to the limit. You handled that very well.” He smiled and I told him about the prescription I was expecting. It wasn’t there. “Oh,” I said. “It should be.” “I tell you what,” he said. “I see we have received it. It is somewhere in the queue. If you have something else to shop for, please go do that and I’ll find your prescription and get it bumped up and filled. Can you come back in 10 minutes?” “Okay. I do have something else to get. I’ll be back shortly.”
As I walked away to go get what I needed, I noticed people were smiling back at me. All over the store. Every aisle I was in. I came back. The prescription was ready. I thanked him for his effort, and he said, “It’s been a real pleasure. It’s really a good job I have. I’m very thankful for it. Have a great day, sir.”
I left and went on to a lawn/garden/hardware store to get some pelletized lime for my yard. I asked where they had moved it because it wasn’t in its usual spot. The clerk said “Oh, I’m sorry. We are out and haven’t received the new batch yet.” A passing clerk stopped and related, “It just came in. They are putting the pallets in place right now. Come on. I’ll show you.” The second clerk went behind the temporary barriers they had set up, and got my five bags. On my way to the checkout counter, I saw a guy I had just met several days earlier who was in line ahead of me. We chatted for a moment and he motioned for me to go ahead of him, since he had much more stuff than I.
I came home a told my wife it had been a perfect day. There was no conflict. All problems that arose had been successfully resolved. No sullen faces – all smiles. No anger. No frustration. Just serenity. I was a very happy camper.
All this seemingly mundane stuff was the work of the Holy Spirit in ways I had never imagined. Working the Steps of AA changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. Rather than trying to force my will to be in concert with what I believe should be God’s will, I can just silently ask God to help me see what I am looking at in terms of acts of love or calls for love. When my perception changes, the day changes. When my perception changes, people change. When my perception changes, the results change. I normally would have looked at the pharmacy clerk and resented that I was going to get him while he was still angry with the previous customer. Instead, I saw a young man trying to be courteous and helpful – and it made all the difference in the world.
Small things. Unexpected things – in me and in all those I was meeting.
I try hard not to convince myself what it is that God would have me do. When I don’t do that, I confuse what I think I want God to tell me with what I think God’s will is. And, even though it may be high-sounding, it is all still of my ego. Felix. In the meantime, God is doing what He is doing and if I remain looking through Felix’s eyes, I will never see my Higher Power at work in my life – even if I think it’s mundane.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.