As the sun set outside my window at the monastery, I pulled my chair to the window to watch it disappear beneath the coastal mountains. This was my first time at the Abbey in Mission, B.C. Despite the beautiful views, and the fact that I was in a monastery, I was feeling dry spiritually and having a tough time connecting with God.
Being a bit of a dreamer I thought I would go to the Abbey for a few days, the heavens would instantly open up, and I’d return home with a glowing face, a la Moses coming down from Mount Sinai. After 24 hours the only thing that was shining was the car parked outside my window as the sun reflected off it. As a matter of fact, just prior to my move to the window to watch the sunset, I had called my wife and complained that I didn’t know why I was there.
Out of nowhere the thought crossed my mind that maybe I was too much of a jerk to experience God’s presence. The instant I had that thought shame from the stupid stuff I had done, and probably would do in the future, washed over me. I asked God for help and wrote in my journal “God I really need your help. All of my attempts to be less of a jerk have failed.” Sounds silly, but that’s what I was thinking and feeling at the time.
As the sun was just about to disappear, I think I heard from God. He seemed to say that he loves me, and that he accepts me just the way I am. He wanted me to love myself. He also seemed to say that he had hope for me, and I was reminded that he came to die for me, and in the process gave me the hope of having new life, both now and in eternity. He seemed to encourage me to really live!
After writing this down, I felt washed. I wrote in the very last line of my journal that it wasn’t so much the words, as His presence in the room that had cleansed me of my earlier thoughts of guilt and shame. Then more doubt followed. Was this really God speaking to me?
I moved away from the window, turned on a light and sat down in another chair. I grabbed the Brennan Manning book I had brought with me, “Reflections for Ragamuffins”. Almost the very first thing I read was “If you love yourself intensely and freely, then your feelings correspond perfectly with the sentiments of Jesus.” Hmmmm. Heavenly Father, thank you for your intense, unconditional, life changing love. Matthew 22.39