|Ascension of Jesus by Garofalo (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)|
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.
"I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away, and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe" (John 14:23-29).
When I was a little girl my family moved to Minnesota and we joined the local Presbyterian church. It was in this church that the love of Jesus was cultivated in my heart. And though the church of my childhood lacked most of the sacraments [their baptism is recognized by the Catholic Church, ed.], they did direct us toward a relationship with Christ. I especially remember Miss Peggy reading us stories about Jesus, helping us to memorize the books of the Bible and to understand the parables through delightful songs. It was made clear to me that I could be bold like Zacchaeus or Bartimaeus and call out to Jesus. I could expect Jesus to come to me in prayer, to heal me and to save me. I prayed to Him frequently and I did hear His voice.
As I journeyed on in life, I wandered off the narrow path, I crowded out the voice of the Lord with what seemed like more fulfilling and realistic pursuits. I remember a particular moment I had wandered so far away from Him that I stood on the brink of renouncing a belief in the historicity of the life, death and resurrection of Christ as I had learned from the Bible. I was ready to dismiss it as all spiritual concepts and nothing more. In those moments I found I had only the strength to proclaim an abstract spirituality and vague ethical guidelines. Yet that love that had once been nurtured but was now lying dormant in my soul stirred up painfully in the moment of my temptation. It was a nostalgic-like yearning for something that I could not quite put my finger on. At the same time I felt contempt for this feeling, I tried to dismiss it as foolish and unintellectual, but the feeling was persistent.
Read the rest of Heidi's story at her group blog, Journey to Wisdom.
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