“Surprise Me, God!”

…final insight from my personal retreat

     A couple weeks ago I started telling you about the early July personal retreat I took at the Monastery of St. Gertrude. I explained I had no agenda or theme for my retreat—only this prayer: “Surprise me, God!” From the beginning, I was aware of ways my prayer was answered.

     One of the most profound surprises occurred on the top of the Lewiston grade at an elevation of 2,756 feet. A thick blanket of fog covering the apex cleared quickly. Descending from the mist, I felt a distinct and pleasant impression. I asked, “Lord, is this from you or is it merely my imagination?” In less than 24 hours I learned that thought was to become the theme for my weekend retreat getaway.

     How can we hear the voice of God?

     I’ve considered this question frequently through the years of my faith journey. I’ve come to realize there is no one way God speaks. With practiced attention, I’ve learned to trust the way in which God speaks to me.

     I never want to fake my faith or conjure up experiences. One way I make sure the message is indeed from God is to look for follow-up confirmations. I like to have at least three. I recently heard these referred to as “sacred echoes,” a concept I plan to explore further.

     One way God has spoken to me on a few occasions is in a dream.

     I slept well in the twin bed provided in the spacious, homey room located in the Spirit Center, which houses St. Gertrude retreatants. In the very early Saturday morning hours I had a powerful dream. It spoke to my spirit on more than one level, but one strong impression in my dream was a familiar Scripture verse and the need to look up the verse and read the entire chapter in which it was located. Later that morning I searched my Bible’s concordance for the verse’s exact location. The chapter seemed to support the strong impression I’d received on top of the Lewiston grade!

     My first confirmation.

     The sisters at St. Gertrude’s suggest you leave your electronic devices at home, but that seemed a bit much for me. After all, I’m still a novice at this spiritual discipline! I’d finished reading the chapter, which was in the Old Testament book of Isaiah and decided to check e-mail. One of the blog posts I receive regularly amazed me. It was the picture of a magnificent mountain with an applicable and encouraging verse from Isaiah.

     A second confirmation.

     The meals served at St. Gertrude’s are delicious. They’re simple with lots of fruits and vegetables grown at the Monastery as well as homemade baked goods and canned jams and fruits. My first breakfast included a hearty bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins and walnuts followed by a dish of icy cold home canned plums and a cup of hot coffee.

     After eating the delicious meal, I returned to my room and again checked e-mail. There was a message from my friend Judy Lovitt. Judy gave me permission to share parts of this message with you, but wanted me to say her information source came from the book, WRAP Yourself in Scripture.[1]

July 8, 2016 

Several years ago I came across the term Lectio Divina, which is a method the ancient masters used to study the Bible.  It simply means sacred reading, reflecting and praying Scripture….

You need your Bible, a notebook, and a pen.  That’s all.  It doesn’t matter what passage you study.  This works in any book or chapter of the Bible.

“WRAP” Method of Bible Study

 Select a passage to study.

W – Write

Read the passage and write down a verse or verses from that section of Scripture that inspires you, or strikes you, or speaks to your heart.  What stands out to you in this passage?

 R – Reflect

Reflect on the passage.  Look for a truth, principle, life lesson.  Ask Jesus to speak to you as you reflect on the passage and write down what comes to your mind…. Think about the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY & HOW. Ask [questions like]: How am I moved by this scene? Or, what is the Lord telling me?  

A – Apply

            Consider how you will apply this passage to your life.  Ask for guidance about how to respond in a practical way.

P – Pray

     Write a prayer that offers praise and thanksgiving to the Lord….  Pray the scripture back in your own words.

At this point, stop writing and stop speaking.  Just listen.  Focus completely on Him.  Enjoy His presence.  Receive His grace and strength.

     Judy’s e-mail was my third confirmation.

     Throughout that Saturday I unWRAPed the chapter in Isaiah to which my dream had directed me. The Lectio Divina method is one that resonates. I’m anxious to read the book, which Judy has ordered for me, to learn more.

     In my next post, I’ll try to give some practical suggestions about how you can create your own time of personal retreat.

Until then, I’m asking God to speak to you in a sweet, personal and undeniable way…

Sue Reeve

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An abundance of wild flowers and perennials grace the campus of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, and I observed many honey bees like this one gathering sweet nectar. Since the pictures I take with my phone are rather pitiful, I decided instead to use this amazing photo Ron took. It reminds me of a Scripture, which captures the essence of the time I spent on my recent personal spiritual retreat:

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8 (NRSV)

  1. WRAP Yourself in Scripture, Karen L. Dwyer, PhD and Lawrence A. Dwyer,JD (c) 2013, 2011.  Published by the Institute For Priestly Formation.

 

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One thought on ““Surprise Me, God!”

  1. What a neat, practical way to engage in Bible study – thanks for sharing! I love hearing more about your time away and how God spoke to you throughout the weekend. Thank you for being such a great example in your faith, Sue!

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