Yesterday, Today and the Same Forever

It is now three weeks since I started working in Age Action, and thus far, I am delighted, and I feel as if I’ve returned home.  It reminds me of the way Crosscare used to be.  Once again, I am working alongside a very dedicated staff who live out their principles and values reflected in their approach to their work.

I am also extremely grateful for where I am now and the journey I’ve just completed.

As a little aside, I visited my friend Carol in early September, and she shared with me a sermon a priest friend of hers gave. It was based on Luke’s Gospel. The priest outlines how Jesus, rather than taking the apostles directly to their destination, brought them the long way round, travelling to different towns and villages.  In other words, the drawn-out journey with Jesus gave the apostles time to witness, listen, reflect, and grow to the point that Peter could declare, “You are the Christ” Luke: 9:18.

In the three years since I left Crosscare, I now recognise clearly how much the Lord has brought me on an incredible journey – one that I would have paid millions to avoid.  Yet, as I reflect on its transformational teaching around trust and surrender, most of it was learning acceptance of reality as it is and the truth that “it is never wilful mastery but willing surrender.”[1]

All of which distilled me so much that I too could say in the words of Gerald May, “Now I no longer see my desire for self-surrender as a problem. Instead, it seems to be the wellspring of my deepest hope”[2] because “You are the Christ.”

The radical change I entered started with profound disorientation – living between two worlds – the one I was leaving and the one which hadn’t been born. As James Hollis explains: “one is absent-spirited, adrift, without vision of a renewed sense of self” (Hollis 1996, p. 38). [3]

With time, I listened to the promptings of the Spirit guiding me to take on the developmental tasks hidden in these swamplands. I began to trust the nature of darkness as it provides the right environment which every seed needs to grow in the secret womb of life. Without this dying, there is no new growth.  Richard Rohr puts it like this:

“People’s willingness to find God in their own struggle with life – and let it change them -is their deepest and truest obedience to God’s eternal will.  We must admit this is what all of us do anyway, as God comes to us disguised as our life”! Remember, always remember, that the heartfelt desire to do the will of God is, in fact, the truest will of God”.[4]

Last November, I wrote this in a blog “We are invited to trust deeply the will of God at work in our lives until its revelation is shown to us when the season changes.  The invitation is always to humbly accept reality as it is, and in doing so, we are set free. 1 Peter 4:2-3: “because for the rest of (my) life… (I am) not ruled by human passions but only the will of God”.

We are invited to remember to “take up your cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24-26) until we surrender utterly and find the Lord’s security in the depths of our hearts.

As it says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” You see, our vulnerability is our most valuable nugget.

These are the blessed steps I have taken. They have paved the way for the path I am on today. Suddenly, here I am, in a new season. These same seeds are now blooming.  I recognise that the season of desolation is where all growth occurs in secret and the consolation when all such growth blooms – we need the two. I also learned the powerful reality that it is always in God’s time and not my own. For both of these seasons, I am deeply grateful. One thing is for sure, regardless of which season we are in, whether it be desolation or consolation, “Jesus, is the same, yesterday and the same forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

[1] Gerald May. Will & Spirit. New York: Harper Collins Books, 1982.

[2] Ibid.

[3] James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1996.

[4] Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Cincinnati, Ohio:

  Franciscan Media, 2011.

Theme photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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