On Spiritual Formation Done Right: A Reader’s Story

I get emails —

Jay, I read your son’s post and it prompted me to reflect on my own life ~ and that’s why I’m sharing it with you ~ although you already know most of it.  (He’s so bright! Thank him for me.)  Somehow it seemed appropriate that I put down on paper the story of my own past few years.  Maybe it will simply go into the file for progeny ~ my granddaughter perhaps.  And maybe it will be tossed.  We are our own most personal frame of reference, and I do like to remember what the Lord has done in me, as the song says.  It fills me up.

Thank you always for your part.

Pat

Reflections on a Birthday

Today I am 66 years old.  I’ve led a charmed life in every aspect ~ emotional, physical, educational, material and intellectual, for the most part.  Religiously, I have the best of credentials as a member of the Church of Christ. Fifth generation.  Grandfather a classical scholar who chaired the Bible Department of a leading CoC college.  Godly parents.  Father a much loved and respected elder for many years.   Husband a deacon.  Brother an elder.  Educated in CoC high school and two universities.  Taught Bible classes for over 50 years.  An impressive resume in some circles.  Yet, there was a blank spot in the document.  I covered it pretty well, but I knew.  Actually, I did not know what belonged in the blank spot, but I knew that something was missing; and I defined it as a lack of sincerity on my part.  I handled life fairly well, but I knew I had never been tested.  I wondered if I had the stuff to make it when the time (surely) would come.  As the years went by, I finally, and secretly, admitted to myself that I did not really love Jesus ~ at least, not like I should.  Of course, I loved Him on some level.  But He seemed far from me.  I sang the songs, prayed the prayers, read the Bible through several times, enjoyed momentary connections, but the empty spot shamefully remained.  One thing was constant in my self-analysis ~ I desired to make the connection permanent.

The awakening began with a little book written by Jack Exum, Sr. given away at a meeting he held in my church.  I discovered grace, and that lit the fire.  Then an introduction to the Holy Spirit from a book by Jay Guin took me deeper, and fanned the flames.  Finally, my relationship with Him was becoming very real, and everything began to change.  No longer did I doubt my sincerity of so many long years, and I realized that God had lovingly massaged life into my heart.  He took the desire of this young woman and brought it subtly into reality.

God continued to bless me in the following years.  Things were going well on most fronts.  I led a Wednesday night class of ladies in studies that were uplifting and enriching.  We grew together and lives were changing.  Then  I went into a dry spot wherein I began to suspect that I was too comfortable in my walk.  Little knowing how God would respond, I asked Him to challenge me, my faith, in order to bring me closer, but to please not bring harm to my husband or our sons.  Apparently God’s hearing is perfect as He heard my request and brought me to the floor on my face.

Before the next two years would pass, my husband and I lost four family members and a best friend to death.  The number included my mother and my brother and my husbands only two brothers.  My brothers and I had to take over the care of my Alzheimer’s-afflicted father, I was dismissed for my convictions from the teaching program at my church, and I developed debilitating health problems.  My children were spared except for my son’s bout with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and my daughter-in-law’s heart problem discovered when our granddaughter was born.  But the wonderful, and amazing, thing is that I never felt God’s presence more keenly.  Although I went through essentially two years of mourning, it was a time filled with blessings and joy, strangely to say.  In fact, it has been a time of immeasurable personal growth that would not have been possible without the trials.

God’s ways are so far beyond me that I will never understand them.  But I have learned some things through my time of testing.  I know that my name is written on His palm, that He delights in every detail of my life,  and that He collects my tears in a bottle.  I know that the more I nurture His Spirit, the more He pours into me.  I know that He loves for me to tell others of His work in me ~ as a way to strengthen both my faith and that of the hearer, and to glorify Him.  My relationship with Him has determined my self-esteem.  He has caused me to find joy in honoring others before myself.  The more He fills my heart, the more distasteful my sin become.  And on and on.  Never would I have dreamed that hardship would bring me to such joy and beauty.  It was so hard at the time, but I always knew He was near.  I weep in remembering.

On this day, my birthday, I am moved to write this little story ~ for what purpose, I’m not sure.  I could write a chapter on each sentence.  I conclude by saying that, finally, God truly is the most exciting facet of my life.  And I would never dreamed it would be so.

[posted with the author’s permission]

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3 Responses

  1. That blessed me today.

    I too wondered when life was going to test me as i had had an easy run. I only came to faith in my 40s and the testing started soon after. I pray God is giving me a reprieve now from the testing now. The last two years have NOT been easy, particularly after I was baptised.

  2. I have no words.
    This is holy ground.

    Holy!
    Holy!
    Holy is the Lord God Almighty,
    Who Was, and Is, and Is To Come!
    Worthy is He of all of our praise!

    I bow down in His presence, and I marvel at his powerful grace.

    Bless the Lord, O His saints! For his steadfast love lasts forever!

    In HIS love,
    nick

  3. i love you deeply!!!

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