Tag Archives: Teresa of Ávila

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!!

Meet Teresa of Ávila

     If all goes as planned in my world, today’s Listening on the Journey… blog will be posted while I’m on a plane in route to Madrid, Spain.

     The first portion of the educational pilgrimage I’m embarking on will be visiting sites where Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) and St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) had unique spiritual encounters—experiences which continue to minister to folks navigating our 21st Century faith journey.

     I became familiar with these amazing Christians several years ago when I read Devotional Classics[1], the source from which I obtained most of the biographical information shared in my next two posts.

     Both Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross lived during the Roman Inquisition, a period when reformation was occurring in the Church. The most well-known reformation activity was the Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther in Germany. Because of corruption that had crept into the Catholic Church, however, pockets of reformation also occurred within the organized church in other European regions around the same time as Luther’s revolt.

     Teresa, a sister in the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation in Ávila, Spain, was what some might call “one tough cookie.” She was a strong-willed leader and independent thinker who endured many physical, vocational and relational hardships. Instead of crumbling under adversity, however, Teresa delved more deeply into a devout life. At the age of 40, she experienced what she called a “second conversion.” Visions she experienced lead her to establish Carmelite houses devoted to contemplative life.

     On Trinity Sunday, 1577, Teresa had a profound vision of a crystal-like dwelling with many rooms—each room moving her closer to the center where the King of Glory dwelt. The Interior Castle is her recollection of that vision.


Ávila, Spain (photo provided by Dr. Deborah Gill, our pilgrimage leader)

A prayer from Teresa of Ávila
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”
― Teresa of Ávila

Today, may you too experience “peace within…”

Dios te bendiga!

Sue Reeve

  1. Devotional Classics, Selected Readings edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal