I’m been on quasi-sabbatical, letting go of some of my busyness to make room for God’s business in my life and ministry. For over a year now, my time has been consumed by my When Despair Meets Delight book and, while there are still things to do to “get it out there,” my mind can now mostly pivot to my next book, my next project, my next dream to pursue.
It has been said of writers that there is nothing more terrifying than a blank page. Starting over is daunting for anyone, particularly when it seems we are starting from scratch. We can fool ourselves into believing we have to magically discover the one right thing to do out of an infinite number of wrong choices. This is the Enemy’s convincing lie designed to paralyze us from faithful action.
I am devoting this season of transition to discerning prayer. I’m asking God such basic questions as: “How can I grow in my relationship with you?” “What do you want me to do with my time, talent, and treasures?” “When would you like me to step into action?” I ask these questions in prayer, explore them in journals, and discuss them with friends. They are never far from my mind even as I cook, clean, or watch football.
Along this path of discernment, God has already led me to valuable resources. I have joined the Renovare book club where I am reading spiritual writings and discussing them with Christians and seekers around the world. I just finished the first book — How to Pray by Pete Grieg. In addition to reminding me of the basics of talking with God, it pointed me to the 24/7 prayer movement where people have committed to pray continuously since 1999. This movement led to the Lectio 365 app, a tool for guided prayer each day. I have integrated this into my daily prayer time, along with the Venite app, a way to follow the Book of Common Prayer.
My prayers have not been just about me. I have been contacting my Facebook friends and asking, “How can I best pray for you?” I’ve received a broad range of responses. Prayers for personal healing. Prayers for peace in our time. Some are joyous praises — my son just got a job. Some are desperate pleas — I just found out I have cancer. Many have to do with restoring relationships, turning the hearts of parents to their children, learning to live with who you are and what you’ve done, and growing in love with Christ.
I can’t tell at this point just what my next step will be, but one thing is clear. It will only be revealed in a spirit of prayer. Without prayer I don’t have a prayer. With prayer, I have the hope of joining God in kingdom work on earth as it is in heaven. Without prayer my life can seem like a series of unconnected purposeless events. With prayer, I will see how all things work together for good out of Christ’s abundant love.
In a few weeks, I will be seeing Sibyl Towner of The Springs Retreat Center for a session of spiritual direction. I have no idea what to expect. Talk about facing a blank screen! One thing I do know is that Sibyl understands stories. She knows the stories of Scripture intimately. She has reflected on the story of her life deeply. She is a gifted listener, drawing personal, often painful stories out of hurting souls.
My goal in spiritual direction is not so much to get the answers to all my questions. God rarely lays out long range plans, at least for me. My prayer instead is that the Word I receive from God would be a lamp for my feet, giving me a glimpse of where I am, and a light for my path. A searchlight would be great, but I’d settle for a flashlight, showing my path one step at a time.