A group of Stephen Ministers gathered. To settle ourselves we prayed,
Almighty God, grant that those who worship you this day may present themselves to you as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to you. By the power of your Holy Spirit make us strong to fulfill our ministry this day. In the name of Christ.
We read Psalm 71 and 2 Corinthians 11:7 - 12:10. And then a reading from "The Spiritual Life" by Evelyn Underhill. She writes,
Our spiritual life is his affair; because, whatever we may think to the contrary, it is really produced by his steady attraction, and our humble and self-forgetful response to it. It consists in being drawn, at his pace and in his way, to the place where he wants us to be; not the place we fancied for ourselves.
Well at the time I just heard lots of words. I just wasn't hearing content jump out at me and grab my focus. And we went on with our meeting and departed. Later on, in the night, or maybe in the morning, when I awoke I seemed to realize what I had heard. What I was hearing was that God is a stronghold in the face of resistance or a strength in the face of obstacles.
In Psalm 71 what I heard is how the speaker feels beset upon by those around him, besieged, and that God is his source of strength, a comfort, and his companion, and thus, take heart do not feel alone.
In Paul's letter speaking to the Christians at Corinth, he is telling how he has been beset upon, and endured, and persevered, in the face of so much. Really, Paul's litany of what he's endured, when you read it aloud, seems to go on and on. I imagine the reality of his experience would've felt comfortless and unendurable. Yet, he says, with God's help, he has persevered and endured to continue to witness to the church. So, this common thread of perseverance, in the face of daunting obstacles, is what I heard.
But I did not tie them into Underhill's reading. I do it here. The place we fancy for ourselves is often times not the place God leads us to . . . if we're going to live a spiritual life, if we're going to be ambassadors, and if we're going to be servants.
If we'd live the spiritual life we'd drawn into the servant life.