“Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you”Isaiah 43:4
Can you name the invitations you have received lately? Perhaps you were invited for a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding or a graduation?
What about in your spiritual journey? Have you heard Jesus inviting you to follow Him, to sit with Him, to celebrate with Him?
The other day I was having lunch with a very dear sister of mine just before embarking on a silent retreat. In our conversation we began to discuss what we generally view a retreat as…. in a sense, we may think of it as a time away to rest from the world, or may be it’s just a time to get away from the things that are creating stress and to just seek peace? In both our spiritual journeys, I think I can speak for her as well as myself, a retreat is more like an invitation to spend time we don’t have in our everyday life with God.
I found this retreat to be exactly that from start to finish. On day one of this retreat, the theme was seeking. It was seeking the things that would bring peace, excitement, a feeling of being lifted up and gaining traction. Father asked us to just be quiet and let Jesus find us. He had us focus on resting in Jesus. He told us to not make our prayer time productive, for us not to read the two books we brought or write an essay. He said, just rest, “waste time with Jesus” as he put it very often.
As we rest, we have an open invitation for Jesus to work in us to give us a moment where something moves us. Once we have that movement, it’s staying there reflecting on this that moves us closer into the spiritual relationship and discernment of God’s Will.
As we moved into day two, the themes went from being cherished by Jesus and seeing ourselves as God sees us to developing a trust in Him by just wasting our time for Him. As we began to develop this trust in Him, we asked God to give us wisdom to uncover ripped currents that tug at us, pulling us further away from Him and to learn to counter act those currents. I say this was probably the peak of the bell curve that we were following because Father Paul drew us back to evaluating treasures in our lives as we were seeking and then back to trusting in God’s love and being cherished while wasting time loving Jesus.
I just love that phrase “wasting time with Jesus.” So often I get discouraged because my prayer time seems to not be productive like I want it to be.
BUT what does Jesus want during this time? A few things come to mind after spending a few days with Him. I think Jesus just wants us to come to Him to allow Him to gaze upon us with the tenderness in His eyes. He wants us to give Him our sorrows through our tears so that He can mend the wounds in hearts. He wants us just as we are to sit with Him and allow Him to decide what our prayer time needs to be.
I loved the analogy Father Paul used after reading Hosea 14:6 “I will be like dew for Israel, he will blossom like the lily.” Father went to Texas A&M to be a chemical engineer before becoming a Jesuit, perhaps another connection to the retreat. He explained the dew in dryness. He went on to tell us how the dew condenses on the the plant and makes it’s way down the stem to the roots. In other words the dew becomes closest to the plant. Like the dew, in our dryness of prayer, Jesus is closest to our hearts, trickling to our roots, bringing life and bearing fruit.
Being in silence, opening my heart to Him and being willing to hear or allow my prayer to be whatever He wanted, allowed me to move deeper through my spiritual life to see the things that affect it positively and negatively; things and emotions that draw me closer and further away from Him.
Many things moved me during the retreat. Part of our seeking and uncovering was looking at our gifts that we are given and what’s the next step. God humors me often because this was my number one intent of coming on the silent retreat – to spend time with God discerning my gifts and evaluating my next steps. I also discovered that my major ripped current is fear – fear of not being good enough and fear of not being loved or capable of being loved.
Fear is such a powerful security and controlling mechanism for me. It keeps me safely tucked away in the boat and when Jesus is calling me to step out and follow Him, I cling to this fear. He didn’t just help me to recognize this as a “ripped current” but He also helped me to recall moments in my life that have been roots of this fear.
Many questions stemmed from me looking into my fear regarding my gifts and talents. Are these gifts instruments for God in His plan in my life or in someone else’s? If so, what’s the next step? Can I trust Jesus’ tender love and step out of the boat? Will He grab my hand if I begin to sink or drown? This was the developing prayer for me as I moved from seeing Him as He sees me, ‘precious… and honored… and loved‘ (Isaiah 43:4), to trusting His tenderness, learning about this fear and moving back to His tender love.
Am I ready to step out of the boat?
Do you have moments of dryness in prayer? Do they frustrate you or do you see them as moments of desiring and aching for Jesus?
Perhaps He is inviting you today to rest and waste time in His presence. He just may be waiting to help you in discerning these insecurities and your next step.