God is Our Security Guard- Always on the Job

God is Our Security Guard- Always on the Job

A woman named Dorothy had just taken over the management of a self-service gas station in South Carolina, with help from her disabled husband Fred, and she was trying to think of an appropriate slogan for the advertising sign on top of the building. Aware that a number of sites in this southern chain of gas stations had been robbed, she wanted something emphasizing security. It took Dorothy a while to come up with just the right words: God Is Our Security Guard—Always on the Job. Fred agreed it was a good slogan, so that’s what went up on the sign. However, none of the customers commented on it, and Dorothy was disappointed no one seemed to appreciate her clever idea. After a few months, she and Fred decided running a service station wasn’t for them, so they resigned, packed up their motor home, and instead went about exploring the country.

Thirteen years later Dorothy and Fred settled in Florida, where they joined a local parish and became friends with a nice young couple there, Larry and Janet. When Fred experienced some temporary health problems, their new friends helped out by running errands, cooking an occasional meal, and offering encouragement and support. In gratitude, Dorothy and Fred invited Larry and Janet to dinner a few weeks later, and as they were talking afterwards, it came out that Larry had grown up in South Carolina—near the service station Fred and Dorothy had managed. Something compelled Larry to talk about his past, openly and honestly, and he said, “Janet knows this story, but I’ve never told it to anyone else. When I was 16, I fell in with the wrong crowd, got into trouble, and spent a year in reform school. After that I wanted to go straight, but I couldn’t find a job because of my record—so in desperation I decided to rob a gas station, just to get enough money to move somewhere else and start over. I stole my father’s car and gun, but when I got to the station, I saw a sign that stopped me in my tracks—and I knew I couldn’t rob that place, or any other. I went home, prayed, and asked God to help me get my life back on track—and He did.” Dorothy asked, “Larry, what did the sign say?,” and he answered, “It said, ‘God Is Our Security Guard—Always on the Job.’” Then Larry added, “It’s true, Dorothy; God guarded me from danger that night, and He has ever since.” Dorothy’s heart leapt for joy; her efforts to find the perfect words for a gas station sign all those years earlier had made a difference (Joan Wester Anderson, Where Miracles Happen, pp. 44-46). The Lord gives all of us a chance to work in His harvest—and even though we may not know the results for many years, our humble and trusting efforts in His Name can change the course of someone else’s life.

It stands to reason that if God is indeed all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, we would see signs of these divine traits in His interactions with us—and this is indeed the case.  As the Lord told Moses, He had demonstrated His power by freeing the people from their slavery in Egypt, and had shown His love by offering them a special covenant or relationship not given to any other people or nation. St. Paul takes this a step further, asserting that God further proved His love for us by sending Jesus to die on our behalf. However, we are not meant to keep this amazing news to ourselves; as the Gospel shows, Jesus appoints His followers to go out into the world on His behalf, proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven by their words and deeds. He says, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give”—in other words, we have not earned or deserved our salvation—it is a free gift from God. In our gratitude, we must actively desire this same gift for everyone around us.

A pastor was making a wooden trellis to support a climbing vine growing alongside the rectory. After a while, as he was hammering two pieces of wood together, he noticed a young boy watching him intently. The pastor said, “So, are you watching me to pick up some pointers on gardening?” “No, sir,” answered the boy; “I’m just waiting to hear what a pastor says when he hits his thumb with a hammer” (Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, p. 399). People are watching, and we are influencing them, even if we don’t know it—so we need to be sure we’re sending the right message.

This is especially true for fathers, who teach their children how to relate to the larger world, and whose practice of religion—or their failure to do so—is the single most important factor in whether their children, particularly their sons, will continue to practice the faith as adults. However, all of us are affecting others by our example—not only the  people around us, but sometimes also—as Dorothy discovered—complete strangers, including those with an immediate need for strength, encouragement, and divine guidance. Sometimes our opportunity to witness to God’s love might involve a dramatic and public event, such as intervening to save someone from an accident or acting in some other heroic manner. Most of the time, however, the Lord will give us the opportunity to make a difference in a more routine way: making the Sign of the Cross in public, smiling at a stranger, speaking up when we see someone being treated unfairly, welcoming and befriending someone new to the parish or neighborhood, acting honestly in a situation in which most people would choose to profit from someone else’s mistake, remaining courteous when dealing with an annoying person, or making it a point always to be available to lend a helping hand—even when it’s difficult or inconvenient.

Our Lord also commands us to pray for more laborers for the harvest—in other words, for more priestly and religious vocations. In that regard, saying to a prayerful and devout young person, “I think you might make a good priest or nun—have you ever considered that?” might just plant a seed that one day bears unexpected but wonderful and valuable fruit. We don’t have to analyze every situation, calculate every possible outcome, or know the future; we just have to be humble and obedient, and receptive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance—for this allows the Lord to use us in simple ways that can make a true and lasting difference. When such seeds are planted, we may not be around to see the harvest—but one day we will meet everyone who was touched by our efforts, and together we will rejoice for eternity while praising the Lord for His goodness.

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Written by
Fr Joseph Esper