Gifts are given or even expected at birthdays and special events that celebrate reaching milestones or overcoming challenges. Someone of great importance to us who achieves something of great importance is celebrated and gifts are a part and parcel of it. The heart of our God is the same; He delights in us and rejoices in our home-coming. I, the prodigal son, and now the other brother apparently focused on the gifts and the celebration too much and lost the point. A soul had been won, a relationship with the Father restored and that’s what all the joy, celebration and gifts were about. Now I could pronounce the countless gifts (in terms of healing and anointing) our Heavenly Father blessed me with on my returning to His healing grace, but that would mean you and me are missing the point yet again!
This inner healing retreat (held 7th-10th May) was truly an encounter with Christ, the best I have been to, but I know that we move from glory to glory and there will be better ones as God purifies his servants. This one allowed me to experience the unconditional love of my Father through the instruments He in His mercy made worthy and chose, those he ordained to minister and share his knowledge and love for us, so as to welcome us into the realm of His mercy and grace. What amazed me about this encounter with Him was His knowledge of me so beautifully articulated through the voice and embrace of his servants, who allowed for love to prevail over human wisdom. Hard nuts like me, who haven’t been listening to His voice, require his servants to be His hands and feet to lead us to His unconditional love where the petrified heart is softened, restored and awakened!
Hidden deep within us, our parents, our grandparents, or even our great-grandparents (anyone actually who affects our lives directly or indirectly) are deep inflictions of pain caused by the falling short of the glory of God and what He intended for us- sin. Caused by whomever, the fact remains that we can’t be what we are called to be if we live in the denial that all is well and that we haven’t been affected. I mean, sometimes our lives may seem perfect, but perhaps there could be something keeping us from reaching our potential.
While our health issues, I learnt and discovered, more often than not are an expression of discord within us (un-forgiveness), so also is our inability to love. And if we can’t love unconditionally, by the grace made available to us of course, we aren’t on any mission with Christ. We are going to get weary from the discord within ourselves and among ourselves. While God, ever so unconditional in His love for us continues to use us in our weaknesses, wants us to have that abundant life that He came to give us. A life of harmony that is born of an inner peace, which in turn is born of a deep experience of Christ’s healing love. This is what He opened my eyes to at this retreat: So much more fruit is borne by healthy trees, and so many more strong and healthy labourers to harvest that fruit. Wouldn’t that be one joyful vineyard giving glory to God?
We resemble empty gongs that are starved of love, hardly able to offer melodious music to God! How then, are we to draw multitudes to God with rejoicing and singing?
He is able to give us the joy of His salvation and make us willing to obey Him only when we come to Him in the consciousness of our sinfulness and realize that we have no worthy sacrifice to offer but a humble, repentant and contrite heart, that He himself can give us.
I was reading a book on ‘Awareness’ during Holy Week this year, written years ago by a Jesuit priest, who plainly states that whether we like it or not, we are all selfish. Some as we understand innately selfless, but some of us who are self-sacrificing to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. Ouch! So true, pride is truly the worst sin of sorts that can allow us to live in the denial of who we really are. How insecure we really are that we identify ourselves by the gifts God has given us – these things boost our egos! I felt shameful at this realization. Of course, God wants to bless me and delight in me, but if I don’t get the point then I’m a fool.
So having shared with you a few thoughts that have been eye-openers prior, during and post the retreat that amalgamated into what God has been trying to tell me, I recommend this retreat without reservation. If God presents you with the opportunity and calls you to these 4 days of dedication to strengthening the ‘hidden’/ ‘inner-self’, go for it! Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, makes a prayer so wonderfully suggesting that a strengthened ‘hidden’/ ‘inner-self’, enables us to receive power through God’s spirit from the wealth of His glory, so that truly Christ will make His home in our hearts (and we could consequently add our families and community). And it continues, “That we may have our roots and foundation in LOVE! So, we, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep is Christ’s love. That we may come to know His love – although it can never be fully known – and so be completely filled with the very nature of God” which I keep falling short of, but we aspire for this by grace so that, “To Him by means of His power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of” that like we always really want it to be, “To God will be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever” and we can all then say, in harmony, “Amen”. It starts with the ‘hidden’/ ‘inner-selves’.
And then I could go on, into how God showed me that these verses are followed by Ephesians Chapter 4 that talks about “The Unity of the Body”, you get the point, yes?
Basically, God opened my eyes to the fact that we can’t be giving glory to God if we don’t take the time out to heal when we see the warning signs or to strengthen our ‘hidden’/ ‘inner-selves’, that we humanly lose awareness of every once in a while (for me, ever so often). You have nothing to lose if you discover that you are a completely healed soul with no wounds that are affecting you, but you do stand to receive His love and know Him more dearly through the 4 days of silence and recollection that will allow God to see your hidden self as it is, and allow Him to shine through you. Saint Basil the Great, Bishop says “As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit shines become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.”
FYI: Gifts received were baskets full of surplus, and with it, the hungry shall be fed!