Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day by Day....

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.                -- 1 Sam. 10:13

This passage in Samuel, where David is anointed and is blessed by the Holy Spirit, made me think about my growing connection with God's Holy Spirit.  My connection has been much more gradual than David's.

When I was baptized as a teenager, I was making a choice.  I was claiming to be a Christian, and I was choosing to belong to the Lutheran Church.  I don't remember being aware of the Holy Spirit until many years later.  As an adult, going to church, hearing God's word spoken in worship, sometimes so personally directed to my concerns, brought such comfort that I could not doubt God's existence.  I began to think of God as That Peace Which Passes Understanding.

About nine years ago, married and living for a short period in England, I began attending church in the local Anglican parish.  (There are not many Lutheran churches in England.)  I felt there the same peace I had felt in the Lutheran church.  One day, wanting to teach my then three-year-old son about God, I sought advice in a book, titled Talking to Your Child About God. (Bantam Books, 1987)  The author, David Heller, wrote that before you can teach your child about God, you have to know what you believe about God.  I put the book down.  Well, what did I know for sure about God?  God to me was that Peace Which Passes Understanding.

Starting there, I began to rethink everything else I had been taught.  At first, I felt very secretive about this.  I didn't want anyone to know that I was questioning my faith.  Then I started attending a couple of Bible studies led by the vicar of the parish, and I was astonished at the variety of beliefs expressed by other people at these meetings.  Not only did I see that there were different expressions of belief, but all of these various opinions were accepted.  Being accepted, and being asked thought-provoking questions by the vicar himself gave me a wonderful sense of freedom and all the necessary encouragement I needed to explore my faith more deeply.

Then, one summer a few years ago, I started studying the teachings of Jesus.  I wanted to know what Jesus had taught about how we should live rightly with one another.  So, for six months, waking up early, taking a good part of each day, and burning hours well into the night, I studied the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, trying to make sense of them all.  I felt like I was discovering Jesus for the first time.  I became a bit obsessed with reading and thinking and writing about Jesus' message.  It was a wonderful obsession, but a very narrow, very inward, one.  Too often I was not mentally or physically present in my life.  Everything was a bit neglected:  the house, my jobs, even my family.    Finally, around Christmas, I was able to reach a sense of completion, and focus again on all the blessings in my life.

However, studying the teachings of Jesus changed me.  Jesus became my hero.  And, I began to feel the active presence of God's Holy Spirit working in my life. More and more, I feel God's Holy Spirit surrounding me, not just to bring me peace, but to guide my every step.  For me, this has been a very gradual process, a daily learning experience.  I know I still have a long way to go.

Dear God, thank you for opening my ears and my eyes to your continual presence each day.  May the peace which passes understanding continue to bless and keep us all.  Love always, Pam

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