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Spiritual Direction – Looking-Inside Awakenings

     I heard recently that the famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1861) said all psychological problems are at their core spiritual. I couldn’t verify this was an accurate quote, but in my research, it was obvious Jung believed there is a direct correlation between psychological and spiritual wellbeing as is reflected in these words:

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams.
Who looks inside, awakens
.

~Carl Jung[1]

     As I enter a new season of intense study into the matter of spiritual direction from a Christian perspective, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection about the importance of spiritual connection. Jung’s words ring true for me. Glancing through the rearview mirror at my lifetime, I realize my most pivotal moments have occurred when my awareness was awakened at a spiritual level.

     As I’ve taken time—or sometimes simply out of the blue–to look into my heart, the ‘still, small voice’ of the Divine Spirit has awakened:

  • Peace instead of pain.
  • Resilience rather than regrets.
  • Courage in place of fears.
  • Direction instead of doubts.

Trusting the Spirit requires:

  • Embracing the mystery of a God I cannot see.
  • Trusting God is good and will lead me onto good paths.
  • Believing God sees what I cannot see; God knows what I cannot know; and God can do what I cannot do.
  • Jumping from the arms of certainty into the unknown of faith.

     Is it possible, as the old saying suggests, that one can become so Heavenly—or spiritually—minded that he or she is no earthly good? I believe so. The kind of spiritual direction I desire, the type of spiritual experiences I want to have and will encourage others to seek, will not only awaken us on the “inside,” but will flow outwardly and will result in a more Christ-like character whose outside dreams align with these words of Jesus:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30 & 31

     As I embark on this venture of spiritual direction, I hope you’ll come along with me. Together, I believe we’ll all awaken to new possibilities God has in store for us.

I’m praying for you and would feel honored if you felt led to pray for me…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://philosiblog.com/2011/09/05

Spiritual Direction – Thoughts About Contemplation…

     Thank you to Stephen Robinson for sharing his journey of learning to balance a physical training regimen with the spiritual discipline of devotional Bible reading. I appreciated not only Stephen’s inspiration but also his willingness to be transparent about his struggle.

     Prior to Stephen’s posts, I let you know I was headed to San Antonio to begin two years of study and training that will lead to completion of a spiritual direction certification program. Many of you sent encouraging comments, and I want you to know I appreciate every word you wrote. I returned home last Monday, weary physically, somewhat overwhelmed mentally, but with a very full heart.

     The program I am embarking on will incorporate many contemplative spiritual disciplines. Like Stephen, I know I will have times when I’m able to get into a healthy rhythm of training, and there will be other times when life sidetracks my efforts.

     When my Spiritual Director first introduced the concepts of contemplative spirituality to me a couple years ago, I felt as if my soul had found its true home. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of introducing contemplative practices to many women. On Saturday, September 14, I was able to facilitate a breakout session at a women’s retreat. Following are some explanations and thoughts I shared with this great group of women.

     Contemplative Spirituality is not about absolutes, rules and regulations, black and white, right and wrong. It is about quiet trust, calmness, security. It is a time of embracing the mystery of God; a time to trust that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine; that God’s love for me is absolute, unconditional and never changing.

     For me, contemplation has become a way of practicing what the psalmist advises in Psalms 46:10: being still and knowing deeply, intimately that God is God.

     Contemplative prayer is foundational and is the primary practice I have been trying to develop these past two years. While I have much to learn, I’m discovering certain important elements of the discipline.

  • Contemplative—or silent, listening, centering—prayer is one way of praying. It does not replace praise, worship, thanksgiving and making requests known to God.
  • Contemplative prayer is a place where you become prayer instead of doing prayer.
  • Contemplative prayer is a time to be present to The Presence; a time when my spirit aligns with God’s Spirit.
  • Contemplative prayer is about being rather than doing, saying or thinking.
  • Contemplative prayer is saying to the Holy Spirit, “I agree with You!” And, then allowing the Holy Spirit to change the trajectory of your behavior and beliefs from the inside out. Our part in this process is to trust the Spirit to lead us in right paths as we say an obedient, ‘Yes’ to God’s prompting. It’s like we take the first step while holding the Holy Spirit’s hand, knowing the Spirit alone can do any necessary ‘soul-renovation.’
  • Contemplative prayer is a time of trusting deeply and Letting Go. Even as God treats His children with love and compassion, a seasoned contemplative will treat him or herself kindly and gently.
  • If the idea of practicing a more contemplative spirituality resonates, START right where you are. The Spirit is trustworthy to take you to the next step.

     A Christ-follower’s truly contemplative spiritual life will always keep God the Father, Son and Spirit at the very center. Our deepest soul’s desire will be like that of John the Baptist who said of Jesus, He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

     In upcoming weeks, as I learn and practice additional spiritual disciplines, I will share more with you.

Blessings to you…

Sue Reeve

 

Celebrating Our Stories – Words We Long to Hear (Part 2)

Sue’s Note: Jesus cautioned His disciples to beware of the cares of this world distracting them from the message of God. Oh, how easy it is to allow our task-filled lives to distract us from spending time nurturing our soul. Today, my friend, Stephen, describes how his spiritual equilibrium became off-kilter. His words speak volumes to me. I hope you read his post on Monday. I know you’ll enjoy the continuation of his message today.

by Stephen Robinson

     In my post on Monday, I explained how my spiritual routine was disrupted last year when I needed to put my training for the CDA half Ironman on hold. What I realized during this time was that without a fitness goal, I really struggled to reach my spiritual goals. Failure is a great teacher! This lapse caused me to consider which words I longed to hear more:

     “Stephen Robinson, You Are an Ironman” OR

     “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

     So why do I want to share this part of my story with you today? Why has Sue asked me to write about this topic? I believe it is because most of us start our year, month, week or even day with the best of intentions, but sometimes those don’t work out as planned.

     “Today I am going to start my day in God’s Word; I am going to be a blessing to my co-workers;’ maybe I will share about the message from church on Sunday.”

     Then, you rush out the door. Forget your coffee. Worse yet, someone doesn’t let you merge onto the freeway. Seems like your day can’t get any worse. Oh, I guess I just described what my recent Monday looked like! Perhaps a bad day may for you looks even much worse than that!

     What I’ve realized is that after a bad start to my day, I can come up with so many reasons why I wouldn’t want to spend time with God. The truth, though, is that is when I need Him most.

My wife and I started a couch to 10K running program, sometimes we have to squeeze in a run at night.

     The CDA Half Ironman is back again in June. I know I must start training now. It will take some time to catch up to my previous physical stamina, but I recognize if I wait much longer, I won’t be prepared to finish the race.

     Currently, I am 76 days behind on my plan to finish reading the Bible in a year. I realize if I were to try and catch up on my reading plan in a couple of days, it wouldn’t work. (Just as I couldn’t possibly cram and train in a couple of days to be ready to compete in a half Ironman.) But, I also know if I keep procrastinating, I may miss God’s prompting through the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit because I’m not trained to hear it.

     So, I’m ready to put forth the effort to prepare for the half Ironman in June. I’m also ready to throw off the hindrance of procrastination and that alarm clock snooze button and return to my routine of spiritual training.

     Hebrews 12:1 has become one of my life verses.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” – Hebrews 12:1

     Last fall, I had this verse tattooed on my forearm so I would always see it. It serves to remind me never to give up—whether training for a race or sticking to my scripture discipline.

     Even though I know God loves me no matter what, I also realize that if I neglect the training disciplines, I may miss what the Lord is trying to do in me and through me.

     What interferences are keeping you from your time with the Lord?

     Perhaps your day begins in His Word without fail, to which I tip my cap. But, if like me, you find yourself in an undisciplined season of life, or if you’re traveling through a difficult valley, I would encourage you to start fresh tomorrow.

     I recommend the YouVersion Bible app, which has plenty of different reading plans to choose from. Or, perhaps for you listening to a podcast or worship music is a more helpful way to prepare your heart to hear from God.

My wife and I do our best to start our day in His Word together.

     I don’t know what the next step is in your journey, but I pray you will find a fresh rhythm in your walk with the Lord. I believe if you do, He will begin to reveal himself to you in a new way.

     I hope my words have encouraged you to take whatever the next step in your journey may be…

Stephen Robinson