Personal Time of Discerning
Posted in Spiritual Growth
Scripture: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
Several years ago, I began a Monday morning Bible study with a group of women. I have known most of them for decades and our relationships have grown and deepened during our studies. However, when asked several months ago to share my faith story, I was reluctant.
My reluctance stemmed from the fact that much of my spiritual growth has resulted from the most difficult and painful challenges of my life. I was not certain that I wanted to share intensely private and painful trials. I responded that I would consider the request.
The pandemic quarantine offered the perfect opportunity to “Be Still.” I began a journal of reflections. I worked to “go back in time” and reconstruct memories, smells, sensations, trials, and experiences. This proved to be an illuminating and insightful process. Probing many deeply unearthed,forgotten memories.
This personal “time of discerning” underscored the significance of the actions, words, and deeds of others in the formation of my spiritual life. I reflected upon the goodness of Sunday School teachers, the steady, selfless faith of my grandmother, the loving kindness and deep wisdom of a chaplain while I attended boarding school. I reflected on sermons I heard as a teenager and young adult. I reflected on sermons providing life lessons from the pulpit of Eastminster.
I also remembered and reflected upon the very real sense as a small child that there was another and greater level of reality — and that somehow that was the existence from which I came and to which I belonged. I reflected upon a confirmation gift of The Prayer of St. Francis. Hanging in my room, this prayer became my guidepost— and it continues to challenge me to walk more faithfully and lovingly.
I reflected on being a senior in college after my father died. An older friend invited me to an intimate Bible study. She and her husband encouraged me to center my entire existence around God – true surrender.
I recalled waking up in a hospital room after a sudden illness. I was given the gift and reassurance that I was in God’s arms and all would be well.
And so buoyed by remembering how God has been with me every step of the way and has provided encouragers, teachers, and role models, I told my story — knowing that all our stories are unfolding and revealing God’s presence each and every day.
In fact, just days ago, in the throes of caring for an ill relative, a copy of The Prayer of St. Francis was found among his daily devotionals at home. My sister encouraged me to take this to his nurse. A great peace was evident as this prayer was included in prayers at his hospital bedside later that day. Furthermore, his strength and appetite soon increased noticeably. Praise be to God.
Prayer: (The Prayer of St. Francis) “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.”
Submitted by Kappy Hubbard