I feel the tears well up inside my eyes when I walk into my room after dinner. It’s Sunday night. The evening meal is over. The introductions have concluded. And it’s about to get real. I know my duplicitous life and my sins and I’m going to have to say out loud to our God why I’m here.
I had the same feeling during the evening prayers with the larger group. I can’t read the first couple of prayers through the tears. The candle. The liturgy. The knowledge that I must face our Lord. Will he receive me? Does he still want me? Will he accept me and work on me?
I’ve been made to acknowledge the burdens I carry. I’ve also been made to recognize my fears heading into this retreat and this two-year commitment. Out loud. I’ve named them. Here we go.
So I pour myself into the process. I give it my all. I’m journaling in my room, but realizing ten minutes into the exercise that I’m writing only about the things my three companions and I have experienced together on the trip. Lunch at the Lucky Monk. Something funny Mike said. Something weird on the plane. I’m probably stalling, avoiding the hard work God would rather be doing in me. I’m praying Psalm 32 and Psalm 100. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But I can’t get still.
Until Monday afternoon in the chapel. Thank you, Lord.
A little over an hour by myself in that beautiful chapel and God revealed to me why I’m here. He gave me a peace, he washed me in a comfort, he blessed me by reminding me that I belong to him and he loves me deeply and he wants to change me. He wants me to live in him and rely on him alone.
Heal me. Fix me, Father. Give me peace in my ministry. Give me peace with myself as a minister of the Gospel. Reconcile all the spiritual and existential issues between my head and my heart. Heal me, Lord. Fix me.
Unsurprisingly, since my first Transforming Community retreat in Chicago, my life with Christ has been up-and-down. I’ve engaged / revived a couple of new practices and begun a couple of new rhythms to help me maintain some semblance of what I experienced in Chicago. Those exercises are keeping me aware of the presence of God throughout the day. And it’s good. But I feel I have a long way to go. I always have.
I know that I need continual transformation in my life. I know I need to pay constant attention to it. I also know that I cannot transform myself. Only God by his grace and the power of his Spirit can make me into the man of the Lord he wants me to be. And I welcome it. I’m committed to making space for it.
I’m reading all the books, I’m making the retreats, I’m writing the papers, and doing all the assignments with the view that God is hard at work on me. Some of this is going to stretch me, some of this will make me uncomfortable, but I’m convinced that God has been preparing me for years for this experience.
He’ll talk to me if I’ll just listen. He’ll heal me if I’ll just sit still. He’ll transform me if I’ll just trust.
See you Wednesday.