Monthly Archives: February 2016

Listening for instructions

Often, in my impatience, I have wondered why God does not tell me what He wants me to do.

This is particularly the case with those big life-direction kinds of decisions but it may be true in smaller day-to-day events as well.

I have never thought of God as the micro-managing type to tell us what we are supposed to do in each and every life situation. I confess that I used to think it a rather immature faith when I overheard others speak of praying for God’s will about what job to take or what school to attend. Were they not willing to make their own choices?

Perhaps this was the case for some people, wanting to be told what to do so that they wouldn’t get it wrong. The safe course. While a perspective that could benefit from some stretching, my own immaturity was equally evident in my judgment of them.

They, at least, were ready to be obedient. Was I? Quite probably not.

When I now find myself pondering similar questions, more often than not they come from a nagging sense that there is somewhere I am going but I do not know the destination. I want very much to go there and to make the trip with the One I love.

But it would be so much easier if He gave me the directions and told where to meet Him – instead of making me figure it out for myself. Why doesn’t He tell me these things?

One of the things that has become most clear to me is that God does not tell me what He wants because I seldom ask Him.

If I truly wish to please Him, why is it that I am not asking? Am I afraid that He will not answer? Or perhaps I will not like the answer that He gives?

Just the other day, I found myself mulling over a question in my mind: do I want to do this or do I want to do that? The interesting thing was that, in this particular situation, what I wanted should not have been a subject of interest at all. It wasn’t about me. But, out of habit, I was pondering the options as though it were.

And so I stopped and requested, “Help me to know what to do here, Lord.”

It is the beginning of a new habit. Sometimes in the early evening I become so tired that I feel unable to do anything. When this happens, I say, sometimes aloud, “I am so tired. What would you have me do, Jesus?” (Usually the answer is to get up out of my chair as a beginning.)

Already I have found this new habit yielding some fruitful results.

Perhaps the most important has been that I have been acknowledging that my life is not my own and have been putting it more and more into the hands of God.

Not too long ago, I read how my patron, St. Catherine of Genoa, received instructions in a mystical experience that she was no longer to speak of “I” but only of “we”, in reference to anything she did. No choice or decision was to be made apart from Christ.

How far I am from that! I can imagine that I entrust my life to God, but over and over, I discover the many ways in which I do not.

I am also finding that God does indeed answer. Now I know that these responses would be no proof to my agnostic and atheist friends. But I am beginning to understand that “answers” are not so much the specific instructions (“Do this!”) as they are the loving synergy of God directing and allowing things to occur in my life and my obedient acceptance of them.

It is a dance between the divine Lover and His little creature – He leads and I follow.

Not being an accomplished dancer myself, I know the feeling of being led by a skilled dancer who moves me through a graceful waltz. He does not do this by saying 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, repeatedly in my ear, but rather he simply presses my hand and gently guides with a hand to my waist.

And so it is with the Eternal God, the most accomplished Dancer of them all. He is so humble and gracious a God that He does not make me dance with Him. He waits for me to ask. But no sooner do I utter the words than He takes the lead.

Then it is up to me to follow. And a beautiful, joyous obedience this is.

A priceless thing…


(Reminder: God willing, this Wednesday, 2/10/16, marks the beginning of our online book reflection group at Hope to see you there!)

Back from sabbatical

A note to my dear readers,

God seems to have had me on sabbatical from blog-writing for the last month. I would have forewarned you but I did not know myself that this was going to occur. He does indeed work in mysterious ways.

He continues to be at work in me, for which I am most grateful, and new projects abound (though they do not always get completed!). One of these projects, God willing, will start next week. You are invited.

The plan is to begin an online book reflection group with the book, Orthodox Prayer Life, The Interior Way, by Matthew the Poor. Since this is a book to be prayed rather than simply read, my idea is that we may share it slowly over a longer period of time (how long I do not know).

The starting time is to coincide with the Western Church’s beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday or shortly thereafter. I have noticed that Western and Eastern Church calendars are separated by nearly a month this year. Since the book centers on prayer and not any particular liturgical season, our different calendars should not interfere with how we share the book.

For those not familiar with the author, Matthew the Poor, also known as Father Matta El-Meskeen, began his adult life as a pharmacist who amassed considerable wealth early in life. In 1948, he left the two pharmacies that he owned for the solitary life, spending the next 55 years as a monk in the desert of Egypt. He studied both the Eastern and Western Fathers, revived Egyptian monasticism and wrote 181 books and numerous articles. He died in 2006.

Here is an excerpt from the book’s preface:

“Whenever physical hunger turned cruel against me, I found my gratification in prayer. Whenever the biting cold of winter was unkind to me, I found my warmth in prayer. Whenever people were harsh to me (and their harshness was severe indeed), I found my comfort in prayer. In short, prayer became my food and my drink, my outfit and my armor, whether by night or by day.”

The publisher has graciously given permission for liberal online quoting of the book (but not pages or chapters) so purchase of the book is encouraged. It is available on Amazon (as of this writing) as well as from the publisher. I am setting up a separate site (Here to pray…) for this purpose so that unrelated posts here, should God give me any, do not disrupt the book reflection.

I look forward to sharing this experience, even if there are only a few people. However, please invite anyone that you think might be interested in joining in.

Please pray for me, as I do for you.