November 7, 2008

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Like a proud parent, God rejoices in our good deeds

Patti Lamb“She said ‘moo,’ ” I said excitedly. “Clear as a bell. M-O-O-O,” I told my husband on the phone.

“I asked her what a cow says, and she said ‘moo.’ ”

I called him at work just to let him know. Not your typical news flash for a Wednesday afternoon. I was so delighted that you would have thought I was holding a winning lottery ticket. Then I dialed my sister to fill her in.

When kids do something for the first time, even when they are not the first born, it is a celebration.

“She slept through the night.”

“He put his shoes on all by himself.”

“He didn’t swallow the toothpaste.”

“She blew a kiss.”

They are simple things, yet we feel like we could charter a parade down the street if it were up to us.

Maybe it is part of being a parent. We take such care raising our children, concerned at every milestone, praying that their struggles will be minimal and no one will break their spirits or their hearts. When they hurt, we hurt. But when they learn, we are delighted.

I began to take notice: As we get older, those around us don’t celebrate our every little accomplishment anymore. Now, when my daughter says “mama” or participates in even a portion of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” I find cause for rejoicing. But advance in years, and that all fades.

I’m not sure when it falls off, exactly. Maybe it is by the time we are done receiving report cards that we don’t have so much cause for public exaltation. Without the marks, we can’t prove to those around us that we are worthy of praise.

Occasionally, we may get recognition for a job well done in the work world. It may come in the form of a bonus or kudos at an assembly with our co-workers. Everyone claps. We feel proud.

In the daily grind of life, however, we are not often acknowledged for doing well. There just aren’t blue ribbons awarded for living like a good Christian.

I am thinking of a woman who drives her friend to and from the hospital for each round of chemotherapy. Afterward, my friend stays with her to help for days at a time when the patient is sick and too weak to get out of bed. She receives no applause.

I am thinking of a man who patiently tutors his nephew in college algebra over the phone from many miles away. He gets no credit or stewardship hours.

We might consider these unrewarded acts, but I am convinced that God takes notice. He is like a proud father looking on when his son or daughter is shooting hoops on the driveway and makes a remarkable “nothing but net” basket, but the child isn’t aware that anyone is watching. God sees and secretly rejoices. I think he celebrates our little victorious acts of Christianity.

Opportunities for doing good abound, especially in today’s troubled world. We don’t have to do anything exceptional to help another soul. Sometimes the smaller acts are the ones we find ourselves remembering with the most fondness.

As we grow older, our progress and kind deeds are not celebrated and congratulated as they once were. But they don’t go unnoticed. God looks upon them with a smile.

We shouldn’t grow weary of doing good. Take heart—God sees. He’s the proudest parent of all.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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