Many years in the past, out of sheer desperation, I signed up for a weekend spiritual retreat at a Catholic monastery within the Bay Space. My marriage was taking place the tubes, my consuming was out of hand, and I used to be below growing stress as an engineering mission supervisor.
The night time the retreat started, I went out and acquired drunk on a whim. Afterward, I made a decision to attend anyway, rolling up round midnight. The place was closed, so I rang the bell, and a bleary-eyed monk answered the door, took one whiff of my alcohol-sotted breath, shook his head and with no phrase, led me down an extended corridor to the one remaining room the place I collapsed on a stark metallic single mattress.
At 6 a.m., somebody bellowed via my door, “Ave Maria!” “Ave Maria!”, whereas banging and ringing a bell.
Worn out, hung over and nonetheless in my garments from the night time earlier than, I wandered down the corridor to a breakfast room the place all 50 units of eyeballs fixated on my rumpled visage. I used to be now notorious, having woke up the entire place in the midst of the night time loaded to the gills.
I don’t recall a lot of the remainder of the day’s actions besides that we couldn’t communicate or sleep, and that we needed to do a whole lot of studying and “praying.” In my case, I used to be praying for an finish to the torture of this retreat.
By some means, I survived the day, and after dinner, we have been free to discover the grounds and “mirror” earlier than going to mattress. I used to be depressing and needed to return to chasing interior peace down the neck of a whiskey bottle. As a substitute, I made a decision to powerful it out yet another night time, and took a stroll down an inviting backyard path close by.
The crisp night time air was aromatic with candy flowers and musky oaks. On the finish of the trail, large scraggly branches shaped a comfortable clearing.
Tiny lights organized in a circle across the clearing faintly illuminated hand-formed photographs of the “Stations of the Cross,” vividly depicting the fervour of Christ. These Stations of the Cross had all the time touched one thing deep inside me and melted my coronary heart with each encounter.
Unusually, I felt at dwelling right here and reclined on a snug bench comprised of break up logs as I fell below the spell of this magical refuge. For the second, it was mine alone.
The deafening silence rang in my ears, damaged solely by occasional hoots from a close-by owl, which appeared to be saying, “It’s OK, man. I’ve acquired your again.”
However the serenity of this little little bit of heaven was no match for the wrenching interior turmoil that threatened to swallow me complete. I cried out in agony for launch from my gnawing guilt and disgrace, not likely anticipating anybody to listen to.
As I sat on that split-log bench, head down, I used to be positive that if there was a God, He’d burn me to a cinder for all I’d achieved. And simply then, within the blink of an eye fixed, the entire place “lit up” with a Presence so vivid that it took my breath away.
I didn’t “see” something with my bodily eyes, however deep inside, in my spirit, all the things got here alive. I used to be not alone anymore. I fell to my knees, wept uncontrollably, and was overcome with inexpressible, childlike pleasure.
The Presence was extra actual than my very own consciousness. Immediately, his identify got here to me … “Good friend.” I knew precisely who He was — the One who had agonizingly trodden out these Stations of the Cross 2,000 years in the past for actual.
No phrases have been exchanged; unusually, they weren’t essential. I sensed no condemnation, no calls for for reform — nothing like that.
I used to be bathed in His unconditional love and I knew that nothing could be the identical once more.
The Psalmist as soon as wrote, “O style and see that the Lord is nice; How blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him!”1 I can relate! Large time.
Critics typically describe the God of the Bible as highly effective, indignant and menacing. And sure, He could be these issues, however solely in opposition to His sworn enemies — and all the time within the strategy of defending His associates. God is the hero of the nice and enemy of evil.
How About You?
I do not know what Jesus noticed in me, apart from utter failure, however the message I take away is that God responds to give up, which places it within the vary of risk for the weakest and poorest of us.
That night time I traded faith for relationship and stand as an eyewitness to God’s sweetness. He’s my Good friend perpetually.
“I’ll by no means desert you, nor will I ever abandon you.”
— D.C. Collier is a Bible trainer, discipleship mentor and author targeted on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Web entrepreneur, he’s the writer of My Origin, My Future, a ebook targeted on Christianity’s primary “worth proposition.” Click on right here for extra info, or contact him at [email protected]. Click on right here for earlier columns. The opinions expressed are his personal.