“So often we are too full of what we think should be happening to us in our spiritual formation to notice what God is actually teaching us. We must be still enough, simple enough, humble enough, to let him plan the course, and use whatever opportunities there may be for our instruction.” (Tugwell, Simon. Prayer: Living With God. Springfield: Templegate Publishers, 1975, p. 116.)
Our own impressive ideas and plans for our spiritual life and the lives of others can become an effective barrier to noticing and paying attention to God’s actual activity in our lives. When we make space for practices like listening in solitude, we can begin to be still enough, quiet enough, simple enough and humble enough to be attentive, receptive and responsive to the direction of His Spirit. Do we make enough space to discern the direction and instruction of God for a particular group in a particular season? Do we feel such discernment is beyond us, or some sort of magical thinking?
This is where our need for enough open space and unhurried time as leaders, both alone and in community, to discern the presence and guidance of God. We are tempted, I think, to assume that we can figure out the present intentions of God for our lives and our communities through our efforts in studying the scriptures or making ministry plans. There can be a subtle and ironic tendency to be very self-focused in this apparently God-oriented activity.
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