All posts by Sue

Listening Prayerfully—Which Road Will I Choose?

Today’s post is the third in a series about a journey of listening prayerfully (See April 9 & April 16 archives). These posts include contents of a devotional talk I made to my travel group during our amazing educational pilgrimage as well as additional insights learned during the time I was in Spain.

Continuing from last time…

     As I’ve journeyed into the adventure of prayer, learning to listen for and discern the voice of God, I’ve discovered not only will there be obstacles along the way, but there will be times when I come to a juncture in my journey, and I must decide which road I’ll take. I call these roads,

     The road of “Yes, BUT…” or

     The road of “Yes, WHAT…”

     One of my favorite poems is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. In the last stanza, Frost reminds readers the road he chose “made all the difference.”

     In my experience of counseling–for several years in the arena of a government workplace, and for the past four years working in the local church as a pastoral counselor—I’ve encountered many folks who insist on taking the road of “Yes, but…”

     Way too often, I have chosen the same road. I won’t ask you if you have, but I imagine most would answer in the affirmative.

     The Bible is filled with many examples of good, God-loving people, who chose both roads. Because we’re familiar with the stories, we realize Scripture confirms the truth of Robert Frost’s implication that roads they chose made a difference.

     Noah chose the road of “Yes, WHAT…” I like the way the New English Version describes Noah’s response when God directed him to build an ark.

     “And Noah did all that God commanded him—he did indeed. [emphasis mine] Genesis 6:22

     Moses, on the other hand, chose the road of “Yes, But…” When God spoke to him, God assured Moses of His sufficiency to help Moses lead the Israelites out of bondage. Exodus 4:11-13 (NIV) describes their conversation when Moses argued he wasn’t capable of public speaking.

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? … Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

     I love the story of Hannah and Samuel, both amazing saints who took the road of “Yes, what…”

1 Samuel 1:24 says, After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was,…and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. [emphasis mine]

     I wonder what would have happened if Hannah had instead said, “Yes, Lord, I know I promised, BUT he’s SO little, and I love him SO much.”

     A few pages later, there’s the wonderful story of her precious little son in 1 Samuel 3. When the Lord called to Samuel, the child answered,

      “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

     What if Samuel’s response had been, “Yes, BUT… I’m too young.”

     My favorite time in Spain was the day we spent in Ávila where we focused our attention on the remarkable 16th Century saint, Teresa of Ávila. Writing in my journal the next day, I said,

I will always remember Ávila. All day long yesterday, I was filled with a delightfully full heart as I learned about the strong, spunky, godly woman, Teresa. I consider very few people ‘heroes’ or ‘heroines,’ but from yesterday onward, that’s how I’ll view Teresa.

     My next post will be dedicated to Teresa of Ávila. She was a woman who chose the road of “Yes, WHAT…” over and over. I look forward to telling you a little about this admirable woman.

What about you?

  • Can you think of a time when you came to a juncture in your journey of faith?
  • Did you choose the road of “Yes, BUT…” or the road of “Yes, WHAT…?
  • What did you learn because of the choice you made?

I would love to receive your feedback!

Until next time…

Sue Reeve

The roads we choose to take make all the difference. I can only imagine the stories this typical neighborhood road I walked upon in Spain could tell!!

Listening Prayerfully—‘Dark Nights’ Draw Us Deeper…

On April 9th, I began a series of blog posts about a journey of listening prayerfully. These posts will include contents of a devotional talk I made to my travel group during our amazing educational pilgrimage as well as additional insights learned during the time I was in Spain.

Continuing from last time…

     When I embarked seriously on accomplishing a single-sentence goal: “I want to learn to be a better pray-er,” I didn’t realize I was embarking on a lifelong adventure.

THE JOURNEY OF LISTENING PRAYER IS AN ADVENTURE—AN ADVENTURE INTO THE UNKNOWN!

     Some three years after I determined I wanted to learn to be a better pray-er, I began encountering obstacles. One morning, I was reminded of an uncomfortable truth. As I drove to work, I read the recently-changed reader board at Davis Donuts, a local corner business and hometown gathering place for neighbors who enjoy the camaraderie of swigging morning coffee and munching donuts together. The sign declared:

“A Journey without obstacles will never be an adventure.”

     I read that sign during a time when it felt like I was encountering one obstacle after another. I was discouraged. During that season, I was introduced to St. John of the Cross and his writings concerning the dark night of the soul.

     My husband didn’t like it when I talked about my dark night of the soul. He thought it was too negative. But, on some deep level, I knew that even though it wasn’t a pleasant time in my journey of faith, it was a necessary time.

     Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, I realize now that sometimes the deepest and most important work is accomplished in the winter season when outwardly, everything appears lifeless, like this tree waiting for springtime.

     While in Spain I learned much more about St. John of the Cross. Much of the teaching occurred during a bus trip we took over back roads between Toledo and Avila. The forest through which we traveled reminded me of a fantastical candy land. Trees, with rounded tops looked like lime-flavored lollipops. Pink-flowered trees evoked memories of savoring sweet, sticky cotton candy as a child at the county fair.

     Visions of lollipops and cotton candy are a stark contrast to John’s “dark night” experience, which is like nothing I’ve experienced and like nothing I want to experience.

     John was arrested by the traditional church during the Spanish Inquisition. For nine months he was imprisoned in a 6’ by 10’ airless room. During his incarceration, he was flogged repeatedly and fed a diet of bread and water.

     Confined in that cell, the friar’s[1] imagination expanded. He found solace by composing poetry in his mind, and during this bleak, dark season, John learned how to give all his problems to God.

     While in Spain, I saw the high window of the castle located by the Tahoe River through which John escaped on a hot night in August. John, who realized he would undoubtedly die in that cell, chose life! His escape was miraculous. The emaciated friar found refuge with the nuns at Teresa of Avila’s convent. Secretly, he was nursed back to health at the convent hospital.

     So, what, I ask, can I, a woman living in the USA during the 21st Century, learn from St. John of the Cross, a Spanish friar living more than 500 years ago?

     Starla, a young professional woman in our group, has studied St. John and the ‘dark night,’ and provided insights that helped answer my question:

  • Dark nights of the soul call us into a deeper relationship with God.
  • During dark nights, we learn patience for whatever work God is accomplishing in our lives.
  • Tendencies toward greed and self-indulgence become simplicity and moderation in all areas of life.
  • God’s work done in the “dark night” is a passive work of the spirit that prepares and strengthens us for future work God has designed us to accomplish.

     My next post will look at times when we arrive at junctures in our journeys and must decide which road we’ll take. I call these two roads at a juncture:

     The road of “Yes, BUT…” and

     The road of “Yes, WHAT…”

What about you?

  • Can you identify a “dark night of the soul” in your spiritual journey?
  • What learning occurred during that time?
  • How did your “dark night” draw you ‘deeper?’

I would love to receive your feedback!

Looking forward to next time…

Sue Reeve

  1. Friar – a man who is a member of one of the mendicant religious orders founded in the Middle Ages, as the Carmelites, Franciscans, or Dominicans. [1250–1300; Middle English frier, frere brother < Old French frere < Latin frāter brother] fri′ar•ly, adj. monk, friar – A monk stays in a monastery; a friar does not.

    https://www.thefreedictionary.com/friar

Wolf Lodge Bay

My Tuesdays are normally dedicated primarily to catching up on laundry and writing for my blog. This week Tuesday was dedicated to helping a friend who needed a lending hand. Time well spent, I believe. Because I didn’t have today’s intended post written already, there will be none today. Instead, I’d like to share a recent thought I had about my deep appreciation for those who are my spiritual “listening” friends, which, of course, includes many of you. I placed this sincere sentiment on a photo Ron took while enjoying sunset on Wolf Lodge Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene. (I love this photo, which, by the way, will be one featured at Blackwell Gallery in downtown Coeur d’Alene beginning Friday, April 13th. If you’re in the area, I know you’ll enjoy the display of beautiful photography by local artists.)

Blessings to each on your journey of listening with your heart…

Sue Reeve