By Andy Horner of Centennial, CO, USA
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
It was one of the lowest times in my life. I had struggled with my place in the church since returning home from college. Before that, I had been aware of the Spirit moving in me and in the church many times throughout my life. I now found there were many specifics of our church’s message that I no longer believed.
I was teaching the theme class at a youth camp. I tried to teach the way I had been taught in college: by asking questions. I tried hard not to answer them, though. I did not want the campers to feel I was driving them to particular answers. I wanted them to think for themselves so they would own their own answers. After a controversial discussion, the camp director came to me and told me he thought I needed to make another statement to the camp. I refused. I did not want the campers to get the idea that I would pretend to let them think for themselves, and then would ultimately tell them what to think.
The director told me it was important for me to engage in this conversation with them and asked me to think about it. I agonized over the decision. I think the director recognized I was struggling when we met again late in the evening. He said, “Andy, you will probably always be lonely in the church.” Ironically, the fact that he had loved me enough to speak the truth about my loneliness made me less lonely. “Finally,” I thought, “someone understands how I feel.”
Living in the discomfort of loneliness has turned out to be a blessing for me. It allowed me to follow into places where I perceived the Spirit was leading, even when others thought I was mistaken.
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.