A man went to his minister and told her he was all tired out. She asked the man if something weighed on his mind.
“I just feel so beaten down. It’s like the world, or maybe, God, has it in for me,” he suggested sheepishly, worried the minister would take offense.
“What is your purpose?”
The man did not know how to answer this and the minister told him she would pray for him and ask God to guide him. The man nodded and turned to leave, but the minister called him back.
“While I’m thinking on this and praying for you, would you mind taking the donations to the shelter on Brian Street?”
The man told her he could do that, as the shelter was on his way home. She showed him to a huge pile of clothes, books, and toys in the church storeroom. He stuffed it all into his car and waved goodbye to the minister. She told him to return in one week.
The following week the minister asked the man how he felt.
“I still feel tired out and I don’t know of any purpose I could call mine.”
“Well … do you see the world as fundamentally good or bad?”
The man thought on this and was embarrassed to say, “Honestly I don’t know, I’m sorry. I still feel lost.”
The minister looked grave and told him that she would have to spend another week praying much harder for him. The man was a little disappointed but she assured him she was working on his problem.
As he turned to go she said, “Oh, there are not enough drivers this week for our Meals For The Elderly program, and I need to spend time talking with God about your problem. Would you mind terribly if I asked you to deliver meals to a few of our community members? It should only take about an hour each day.”
He was happy to free up her time so she could work on his problems. She gave him the addresses and told him he could pick up the meals at the parish kitchen every evening at 6:00pm.
After a week of delivering meals every day after work, the man returned to the church. He started to tell the minister that he occasionally felt a little better, but before he could finish she interrupted him with a distressed look.
“I’m sorry, but I’m in a bind. We are very behind schedule on this house we are building for the homeless and I could use your help. Would you mind volunteering on site for a couple hours in the mornings this week?”
The minister looked terribly worried and overwhelmed, so the man said he was happy to help.
The minister told him she was hoping he felt better and he said he was feeling less worn down. She reminded him that she still needed his help delivering the meals after work. He was unsure.
“I am working hard on your problem. Your help is allowing me the overtime I need to pray for you.”
The next week was very busy for the man, before and after work. After a couple days he got the feeling that the prayers were doing something. He had more energy and felt less lost. He realized that he liked the work he was doing for the minister and even decided that the world was what he made of it.
The next week he enthusiastically told the minister that her prayers were working. When she asked if he wanted to continue helping out so she would permanently have the free time to pray for him, he was in favor of the plan.
Over the next several months the man continued to help two to three hours a day wherever the minister needed him. He even took the minister’s place on a two week mission to a small village in Mexico to help earthquake victims rebuild.
At the end of a year the man visited with the minister.
“I’m full of energy and I know that part of my purpose is to shelter the homeless and feed the hungry. I am determined to be a force for good in this world. Thank you. Your prayers are magical.”
The minister smiled and said, “I’m happy I was able to help. But really, you did all the hard work.”