We had an excellent priest come for our Lenten Mission at church tonight, and I took a lot of great messages away from him. I don't have his eloquence with words, but here are a few of the things that spoke to me tonight:
Negative Experiences: If we think one of our experiences in life is entirely negative, we are essentially saying that God is not with us in that moment, and he is always with us. He made what I thought was an absolutely excellent point: The absolute worst, most tragic event in the history of mankind was the death of God’s son. If God was able to bring a greater good out of that event, he will surely do the same for all of the trials we face in our lives.
Awareness: He also spoke with us about being more aware and living in the present. He said there are 2 types of prayer: talking and listening. Most of us, like me, are good at the talking part but we neglect the silent time to listen and hear what God has to say. He talked to us about using all of our senses to detect the Lord's presence in our lives at all times of the day. He did a beautiful blessing over everyone's senses at the end, and I hope that I can take more time to be still and recognize God's presence around me this week.
Fear: The words Jesus says the most in the Bible are "Do not Be Afraid." I have actually heard before that this phrase is in the Bible 365 times, which is pretty amazing because that is one for each day!
Ripple Effect of God’s Grace: The priest told a true story of a woman who was devastated over her son’s death in 9/11. She could not understand why she had to surrender her son so early in life. She was looking for his birth certificate in a pile of papers in a drawer in storage and found it. Something compelled her to keep looking around in there, and she came across his Baptism certificate. On it she saw written that her son was surrendered to God from the time he was baptized, and she realized that the date he was baptized was 9/11. She realized that she was not surrendering her son due to his death, but that he had been surrendered to God from the time she was born, and she felt comfort in receiving this message from God. The priest said that God's grace has a ripple effect, and I had not thought about the exchange of stories in that way before. So many stories of His grace in people's lives are passed on to others, causing so many others to see God's goodness and grace than the one person who the original moment was for.
All of these points were tied together in an awesome speech, with many great stories scattered throughout. I am looking forward to hearing what else he has to say this week!