Sunday, September 06, 2015

Letting the Holy Spirit Preach to Our Hearts (& Giving Into Joy)

It's been a good but difficult and tiring first week of school. I knew back when I set out my schedule for the end of August/beginning of September that the first week of our homeschool year, I was likely to feel a bit crunched. The beginning of our fall schedule overlapped with the end of my summer work ~ right as it was time to dive into fall work (and preparation for more work and ministry), I got flooded with final projects from all my summer seminary and diaconate students. 

Add to this some continued physical challenges (for me) and emotional challenges (Jedi Teen) and here on the eve of Labor Day, I am feeling a little weary.

So I thought I would come here and reflect on joy. 

I've been reading Timothy Keller's book Prayer. In Chapter Six, he highlights the prayer practices of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. In the section on Luther, he quotes the reformer regarding something to keep in mind while practicing prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Keller calls it keeping  "a lookout for the Holy Spirit." He quotes Luther as saying that if (during the course of our regular and planned prayer and meditation):

"an abundance of good thoughts comes to us, we ought to disregard the other petitions, make room for such thoughts, listen in silence, and under no circumstances obstruct them. The Holy Spirit himself preaches here, and one word of his sermon is better than a thousand of our prayers. Many times I have learned more from one prayer than I might have learned from much reading and speculation...If in the midst of such thoughts the Holy Spirit begins to preach to your heart with rich, enlightening thoughts, honor him by letting go of this written scheme...Remember what he says and note it well and you will behold wondrous things in the law of God." 

I suddenly recalled this teaching today when I came across this line from contemporary poet Mary Oliver:

"If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it."

To which I can only say, to both the old and the new, yes and yes. May it be so, Lord.

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