Learning To Live In Him
I love to pray with the Scriptures. Many times, I have experienced God’s ability to light up a word of the text, drawing me into a closer following after Him and His ways. A verse from the first letter of St. Peter recently stood out to me: “Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down…” (1 Pt 1:18). The phrase “useless way of life” drew my attention. I stayed with those words and repeated them in my mind. I couldn’t help but feel that the Lord was desiring to show me some useless ways of life that I regularly follow.
The next day I asked Him to help me see these useless ways of life. I placed my question before Him and then began my time of prayer with the daily Gospel. The Gospel shared the story of the disciples leaving by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee after Jesus had fed the five thousand: “…Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but…the disciples had set off by themselves” (Jn 6:22). The disciples set off by themselves straight into a storm with a head wind too strong for them to row against. They sailed into distress. I felt the Lord gently directing my eyes to the many ways I regularly leave Him and set off by myself.
Different patterns of thought came to mind: a rash judgement made about someone; projects and works I lunge at and race to complete because of pride, a desire to impress, or the anxious feeling that I must scramble to secure God’s love, His pleasure, His protection of me by what I am able to do; so much rushing, and pushing, and vain striving, beyond what is reasonable, beyond what God is asking; setting off by myself down so many useless ways of life. The result? Worry, fear, anger, frustration, jealousy: a whole list of distress.
The Gospel passage doesn’t end with the disciples left abandoned to the mercy of the storm. It is precisely in the painful moment of their powerlessness, just as the terrible realization of their utter helplessness is beginning to dawn on them, that they are overtaken by the Lord. The disciples, bankrupt of their own efforts, are not taken over by the storm, but by the Lord.
I don’t have to remain caught in the distress caused by my useless ways of life. As soon as I catch myself walking down those old pathways of thinking and being, all I need do is call upon the Lord. He is only waiting for my permission. Under His inspiration and grace, I am able to step into His way of seeing, of thinking, of living my today: it is a living with Him, a living in Him.
As lockdown loosens and restrictions begin to lift, you too might like to sit with the Lord and ask Him to show you what useless ways He is leading you to leave behind.
Sr. Philomena, CFR