I guess it was one of those cracked pot days. (2 Cor 4:7)
Someone recently told me, “David you have a need to be wanted.” A friend helped me to process the conversation and said to me, “In the context of that conversation, that was a vicious attack.” He encouraged me to see the hand of God in the wound. Not that God is viscious or mean but even in the hurtful words, God was present with me.
My questions: Why? To what end? For what purpose? Now those are questions that can’t be answered at this stage of my journey or maybe not ever.
Perhaps the most hurtful part of the discussion was the following comment, “David, you have a need to be wanted. And so I am not going to tell you that I want you.” Ouch!
A word given to me was, “Assyria is a rod in my hand.” To punish/discipline but also as a reminder that God has not abandoned. In the middle of the pain, God is there—what a challenge for me to see that—to believe that—to love that.
Back to needing to be wanted. Actually, I acknowledged that I do need to be wanted. Just as I need to be loved. David Benner says our longings, our desires are pathways for our journey with God. He think he would say that intimacy with God is impossible without desire being present.
Here is a quote from Benner’s Soulful Spirituality,
Despite how it is sometimes presented, desire is right at the center of the spiritual life. A sense of obligation may sometimes be enough to keep you going to church, but only desire will keep you open to God and still seeking when your experience in church is filled with frustration and is irrelevant to your deepest spiritual longings. Guilt may be strong enough to motivate religious behavior, but only desire can lead you ahead on the spiritual journey. The absence of desire means the absence of spiritual life. 335
At age 56, I am much more aware of my own neediness than I was at age 23 or 32! For that I am grateful. I recognize the truth of 2 Cor 3:5, “who of us is capable of such things?” Not me, that is for sure. Not by my own strength and power. My sufficiency is only found in the Lord Jesus! I possess a neediness, a longing for more that will not be totally fulfilled until I see the Lord Jesus face to face—the transformation that is currently in process will one day be complete (2 Cor 3:18; 1 John 3:2).
I am aware that much damage has been done in the name of ministry by people who are needy—who need to be wanted, liked and loved. But I suspect the damage is done more by people who are unaware of their neediness or deny it. I wonder if more damage has been done by those in ministry when they think that they have no needs! So for today, gratefully I accept that yes, I am David, a man before God who needs to be wanted and loved and I am thankful that God wants me, loves me, has chosen me to be his beloved and has brought many people into my life who walk with me and are courageous enough to love me and walk with me on this faith journey. Thank you God.
Here is a song that seems to express well my heart tonight.
NOTE: Following is an update on a previous post.
Instead of being impatient with your progress, perhaps it is better to be grateful that you are still moving forward. From Teillhard de Chardin:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are, quite naturally,
Impatient in everything to reach the end without delay…
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,
something new. And yet, i is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability…
and that it may take a very long time
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually;
Let them grow, let them shape themselves,
without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own goodwill)
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming
within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of your
believing that his hand is leading you, and of your
accepting the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and
According to Susan Muto, spiritual directors should be wise, learned and experienced:
“They are wise in the sense that they are prudent, saying the right thing at the right time. They can discern what is important and eternal and what is temporary and does not matter. A good spiritual director has learned the art of reading the soul They are considered to be learned not because of their academic achievements but because learned from the school of life and they have absorbed the truth of the Scriptures. They have experienced what it means to seek direction for one’s soul and themselves have been directed.” (Muto class lecture)
The qualifications needed to be a good director are qualities that cannot be gained by taking a course on SD or by reading books on the subject. These qualities are formed out of an experience in life over time and under submission to the Spirit of God. It is the “depth of intimacy with God that is more important than knowledge of the subject” (Dynamics 364)
Directees must be able to trust the Director with their soul and know that confidences will be kept. Muto advises that a Director not be a person with authority over the directee (class lecture). The directee should feel the acceptance of the Director, even if all of his or her views are not shared. Directors should be good listeners, not only to the words of the directee but also to the promptings of the Spirit as they prayerfully consider a response to the directee. There should be a genuine respect for how God is at work in life of the directee. A gentleness is required when matters of the spirit are shared and yet there must also be a willingness to be firm in offering up the needed direction (see 1 Cor. 4:21). Directors must be able to speak the truth but in love (Eph 4:32). Paul describes his gentleness among the Thessalonians “like a mother caring for her children” (1 Thes. 2:6). Even though there may be an element of spiritual parenting in SD, directees should be reassured that it is God alone as their heavenly Father who has all the resources that they need.
To be a spiritual director, a person should have some affirmation from their church leaders that they are gifted in this way.
When we go beyond the Scriptures to hear God, we face significant dangers.
“Supernatural knowledge that reaches the intellect by the exterior bodily senses” must not be relied upon says St. John of the Cross. Why says John? Because we can be easily deceived by counterfeits from the devil.
“Individuals who esteem these apprehensions are in serious error and extreme danger of being deceived.” (AMC 2:11:3) He says false visions and communications from the devil “cause in the spirit agitation, or dryness, or vanity, or presumption.”
On the other hand, communications from God, “penetrate the soul, move the will to love, and leave their effect within. As Muto says, God’s self-communications …penetrate the soul like fragrant oil softens dry, cracked skin.” (58)
In our longing for these sensory communications we are vulnerable. We must detach ourselves from desires for these special communication. As Muto says, “If good, their effects will show up anyway; if bad, they will be eliminated from the start.”(60)
A good reminder to not seek out special experiences with God or from God. I do need to spend time listening rather than always talking but when I start hearing voices, it is time to be on the alert!
My wife started out on her morning walk this morning and within a few minutes, light rain began to fall, forcing her to return home. Since I was sitting on our front porch when she came home, I said, “I see the sun, the rain will quickly pass. Keep going!” Her response, “I just came back and you don’t see the big black cloud. I don’t want to get my shoes wet. I will wait and see what happens.” Indeed I didn’t see any big black cloud from where I was sitting. But that did not mean that it was not there!!
As I thought about this, I went two ways.
First I thought of the twelve spies sent out to survey Kadesh Barnea and according to the report of the ten, the land was full of danger and giants. For Caleb and Joshua, the land was rich and full of the promise of milk and honey. I also thought of the sluggard in Proverbs 26:13 who did not want to get up and go out because there might be a lion in the streets. Despite what this may sound like, I am not comparing my wife to a sluggard!
But, then, I also thought of Jesus words about counting the cost of following him when he uses the illustration of the man building a tower who first makes sure he has enough materials to build before he begins or the king who evaluates whether or not he has enough men to win the battle. (Luke 14:28-31)
What to think? I should not judge someone else because their perspective is different from mine. I don’t know their heart and I can never see the situation from all sides–only God can do that! While some of us tend to see the big black clouds (actually this is more my tendency), others have the gift to focus on the clear blue sky ahead. I guess we need both!
What happened? Sure enough, the big black cloud passed over the house and the drizzle continued for another ten minutes. Soon after, my wife went back out to complete her walk with dry shoes and I remained sitting on the front porch waiting for the lion that never came!
Do you know how I taught my son to crawl? Not be telling him to crawl! First, I tried crawling so he would follow me. He would wiggle and rock back and forth, wanting to follow but unable to launch himself forward.
At the time, during the sweltering heat of a Dallas summer, we had been invaded by many unloved crickets. After gently apprehending one of our visitors, I strategically posed one of the pulsating creatures mere inches beyond the reach of my son’s trembling fingers. Fascinated as the cricket skipped away, my son’s arms and legs discovered a rhythm previously unknown and off my son set in pursuit of what would soon become his prey.
Andrew had began his crawl towards becoming the man of whom I am proud today.
The Pilgrim’s Regress
C.S. Lewis 1933
Nearly they stood who fall.
Themselves, when they look back
see always in the track
One torturing spot where all
By a possible quick swerve
Of will yet unenslaved–
By the infinitesimal twitching of a nerve–
Might have been saved.
Nearly they fell who stand.
These with cold after-fear
Look back and note how near
They grazed the Siren’s land
Wondering to think that fate
By threads so spidery-fine
The choice of ways so small, the event so great
Should thus entwine.
Therefore I sometimes fear
Lest oldest fears prove true
Lest, when no bugle blew
My mort, when skies looked clear
I may have stepped one hair’s
Breadth past the hair-breadth bourn
Which, being once crossed forever unawares
C.S. Lewis, Poems; Nearly They Stood (1933)