For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly . . . Phil 3:10
The changing power of prayer
Before the Watchman retreat in November 2017, I never set aside a specific time every day to pray. I prayed when I wanted to and always very casually, never seriously or deeply unless I needed God. I treated God like He was my fairy Godmother. And yet, inspite of myself, He was always there comforting me and helping me. However, instead of growing to appreciate Him more, I took Him for granted. I continued to get caught up with all kinds of distractions and never making God my focus.
Turning to God in prayer
During the Watchman retreat, away from all the distractions, I could finally focus on God. I started praying more intentionally and regularly. I learnt discipline in carrying out my spiritual exercises. As someone who has always struggled with discipline, I never understood the need for it in my relationship with God. As I began implementing these exercises in my spiritual life, there were challenges still. I struggled with listening while praying. I still do. But as I began to read and meditate on the Word of God, I was filled with peace.
Seeing God in all things
A few years ago, I heard this recently converted Catholic tell me that when she was in the RCIA she was constantly taught to see God in all things. Only now do I realize what she meant. During the retreat, I began to see the many different ways God blesses us. I began to see God in the sun, the beautiful trees and flowers, and in us – His most beautiful creation. Instead of rushing through life and doing things routinely, I stopped to acknowledge each moment, and to see that God was there in each moment. But I could only feel Him when I was calm and at peace and free from distractions. What I needed was to be open to receiving Him at all times.
“ …more than seeing God in the spectacular, we need to see Him in the everyday, mundane human experiences. I always thought I needed to hear God speak to me or experience Him in a spectacular way and that would change everything in my life. But now I know how wrong I was. ”
“After the retreat, my eyes were opened to see the beauty of God and His blessings in the things around me. All of creation points to the Creator and I am in awe of His power and love. But more than anything, I am so grateful and thankful. God gives us more blessings than I can ever understand or be aware of, and yet I grow deeper with the realization and gratitude each day.”
God always gives us more
Yesterday in a course organised by the Office for Catechesis I learnt that more than seeing God in the spectacular, we need to see Him in the everyday, mundane human experiences. I always thought I needed to hear God speak to me or experience Him in a spectacular way and that would change everything in my life. But now I know how wrong I was. In experiencing God in all these little ways, I have begun to think about Him more, and I desire to grow closer to Him every day. God loves us as only He can.
There are times when I go back to my old routine of being unconscious of God’s presence in my life. I accept that this is a failing that I have to overcome and do better. All I want is to keep growing closer to God. He alone is enough. Nothing else would ever give me the peace, love and joy that only God can. No one will ever love me the way He does. He alone is enough. I pray with all my heart that I will continue to believe that with all my mind and all my heart and all my soul.
“ Nothing else would ever give me the peace, love and joy that only God can. No one will ever love me the way He does. He alone is enough ”
By Natasha Thomas