From my Diary, 21st May; the last entry about my Spiritual Retreat
Last night’s prayer involved, as usual, time for self-examination and penitence. Here? Now?! While I am cut off from the world and all my usual temptations, engaged in a spiritual retreat?!! YES! Here and now. One failing God brought to my mind yesterday was my pride in my (Art) work; as I worked I was imagining the effusive praises of others. The work itself needs to be worth doing without the sweetener of praise – and my ego needs to be sufficiently secure in God without needing others’ praise all the time – else I might seek out work innappropriately for my own ends and not for God’s.
[Incidentally, there is an enormous assumption here; that I can trust God to care for all my needs if only I place myself in his will: "Seek ye first the Kingdom…"]
Having prayed about pride, I was then drawn to admit the failings of my work – the inattentiveness and impatience which led to its weaker passages. In so doing I learned to revalue the work. God is concerned that it should be done well, He values it. Thus, for the first time ever, I consciously offered my work to God for his pleasure, and asked for him to teach me how to use the gifts he has given for his glory. A return to reality through confession.
I was all packed and ready to leave. It was time to say goodbye to my retreat, so I went across the road and stood on the rocks, the high tide safely below my feet. I thought about CS Lewis’ words about an emphasis upon ‘spirituality’ making people ‘hungrier’ for spiritual things – but what spirit would they get? The need to offer the Holy Spirit, the Spirit whose presence and power leads to works of holy goodness. Then I began to pray that the Holy Spirit would fill my life; all my life, as husband, father, pastor, etc. "as the sea fills this firth – and wash away the hardened rocks of sin in my life." As I finished praying, and was about to think "Well, nothing’s changed, as usual, but that’s OK, I can accept the presence of God in my life by faith (see all previous entries re. God’s presence/absence) a wind began to blow firmly on my cheek, them more strongly, lifting the hair on my head and the waves at my feet, slapping me with them! God answers prayers in ways most fitting the time, place and person! I gave myself gladly to adoration!