Last weekend our afternoon workshop at the School for Ministry was led by the Rev. Dr. Michael J. Christensen, a United Methodist minister (with a Nazarene background) who is an expert in the area of church redevelopment and helping churches answer the call to do church differently. Michael was a student of Henri Nouwen and amongst other things has collected together, compiled and edited much of Nouwen’s work into new books. During the workshop we considered Spiritual Direction along with Spiritual Formation (also in this series is a book on Discernment).
Three classical disciplines or spiritual practices are given by Nouwen as being particularly useful in the spiritual direction relationship
- The discipline of the Heart
- The discipline of the Book
- The discipline of the Church or Community of Faith
Within that first discipline, I was struck by the following from Discernment book:
“To live the questions requires that you first look within yourself. Trusting that God is present and at work within you” (Spiritual Direction, Page 11)
This one thought has been on my mind all week. I have been thinking about what does it really mean to trust that God is present and at work within me. How do I know? If I believe it what should I do? I have come to the conclusion that I do not do enough inward looking or reflecting. I look at where God is within my life, close to my body, surrounding my very existence, but I do not spend enough time fully living into the question of what it means to trust that God is present and at work within me.
The world in which we live in draws us out not in, it calls us to consider the boundaries and interfaces of ourselves to the world in which we constantly interact. It is simultaneously awesome and frankly frightening to consider what we can do when are truly let our whole being do the work of God who is present, who is everything, who is our reason for being.
Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth writes “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) but I think looking deep we need to not only accept that God dwells in us but also that he is all that we are.
Maybe it is coincidence that one of our classes this semester is Missiology. The concept of Mission Dei comes to mind. The mission of God or the sending of God embraced in the trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit flowing into the world. When we accept and trust that God is present and at work within us then the call to live out the mission of God in our lives and in the word around us is inseparable from all that we are called to do. But that leads us back to the question, “what is God within me calling me to be or to do?” Discernment is a continual journey, as we get closer to God the more he reveals himself to us, with each revelation comes a new question.
Work to be done with my spiritual director!