When we first found out we were expecting baby #4, I was less than enthused. Now, don’t read into this too much. Clearly we love and cherish all life. However, I’ve had some wild health issues surrounding pregnancy and birth the last 6 years. I’m the healthiest sick person I know because of it all.
After our third, my doctor advised me to wait before conceiving until we ironed out some health issues. I was determined to work on things even more and see if we could find a bit more healing before conceiving again since pregnancy takes so much out of any body, much less an already depleted one.
Well, as the cliche goes, God had other plans. And I wasn’t ready for those plans.
The first trimester was also the hardest physcially out of all of my pregnancies – it was an uphill battle of the mind, will, heart, and struggling body the first 13ish weeks of this pregnancy.
One Sunday at Mass during those tough weeks, I bared my heart to the Lord. I can’t remember if it was the Gospel for that Sunday or it was just on my heart, but I was begging for healing and suddenly was struck by the passage from Mark 2:1-5:
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’
I realized at that moment that I was the paralytic in a sense. I was in a place where I couldn’t bring myself to Jesus or healing on my own – I had to rely on others.
The passage hit me so hard – the man was healed by the others’ faith. It wasn’t any of his own doing. He couldn’t even get himself to Jesus. We don’t know anything about these four men that help bring him through the roof other than their faith and willingness to be on the sidelines were the crux of this man’s life changing encounter with Jesus.
A few weeks after that experience, we had a seminarian over for dinner and I asked him to share his conversion story with us. It was powerful to say the least, involving a car crash, jail time, intense conversion of heart, and a complete 180 in life.
But the part that caught my attention more than the crazy details was the moment of turning – the moment when his heart was raw and ready for the Lord. Right at the same time, a friend just happened to invite him to a bible study. That text was on his phone and the first thing he thought of after the crash, knowing that God was somehow his answer to it all.
I realized more often than not, some of the biggest glory stories we hear of come to fruition because of a sideline saint, someone who quietly responds to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to be in the right place at the right time so God can use them for something bigger and outside of themselves.
Simon of Cyrene. Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin. St. Joseph. The four men in Mark’s gospel. And so many more unknown to us.
Only in heaven will the magnitude of those who faithfully responded to the will of God in the smallest things be made clear; the people that on earth seemed to be on the sidelines but were really key players in some of the greatest conversions, Saints, and miracles we know.
I’m glad I admitted I needed others because healing certainly came. And it was a wake up call for me in the school of humility. Whatever God is asking of me, no matter how insignificantly small, if I do it well and for Him, He can use it to bring about glory beyond my imagining.
Stay faithful, my friends. Don’t let discouragement or mediocrity tell you God isn’t using you just because you might be a sideliner. And don’t doubt God’s ability to work through others for your good.
In heaven, we’ll see the full picture and I’m confident we’ll be admiring the hidden saints with no names that were walking among us this whole time helping others get their mats to Jesus.