I have several lessons from this time, which I will flesh out more in future weeks, but here I will briefly share some of the things I took from the experience. Here are the things I learned about myself and what I do.
- I need to move from blaming to being. In our first exercise, we were commanded to go off by ourselves and repeat the prayer "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (from Christ while he was on the cross.) And as I was committing my spirit to Christ, I came to realize how much of my internal dialogue is truly blaming myself, and taking upon myself the accusations of others. Which can leave me defensive, and susceptible to blaming others for my unhappiness or not feeling like I am measuring up to the standards of others. In this process I remembered that Satan is called the "accuser" in Scripture. That he often saddles us with blame, and when I fill up with blame I am too full of hurt and frustration to be open to blessing.
- When I stay in the blame game, I tend to look at God as a user and a taker instead of a lover and a blesser. My spiritual life becomes very dry when I see God as a user and a taker, but I often go there. And I need to grow past that. And move past obligation to choice for things in my heart and mind.
In the second exercise, we were given some prompts to listen to God through the Scripture, and then take some very pointed questions and move into a silent place and listen for the answers. Then, we were invited to journal our responses to the questions or the answers we heard. One of the questions was, "In what ways is God inviting you to trust?" Here was what I wrote:
I need to believe that God is not finished with me. I need to trust that
God's best is not behind me, and that he has not abandoned me. I need to trust
that where I am is also a part of the quest and part of the journey. It is also
part of the call. That I am not where I am at this point in my ministry because
of some fatal flaw or irreversible failure, but I am where I am because that is
where God has placed me. Sometimes God places us in gardens and sometimes God places us in deserts. Right now I am in a desert. And it takes courage to go
into the desert, and to be faithful to the call when the harvest is sparse and
it is hard to see what is going. But having that courage at this time is part of
the call, part of the journey, and I can trust God to not only see me through to
the other side, but see me to the other side stronger and better equipped for
the next challenge.