By Father Peter Farrington
“This divine medicine, this true bread of Heaven, is the necessary basis of our spiritual life, and therefore our union with God by the indwelling Holy Spirit.” Fr. Peter Farrington | Guide Me In The Right Path [P2].
Most of us desire to be guided by God. We do not want to wander aimlessly through life, or make wrong choices. In Guide Me In The Right Path [P1], we discussed that we must be willing to commit our lives to God, to doing his will, and to seeking and following his guidance. Today we will continue examining more paths.
#2 – But more is required of us than seeking with our whole heart to be guided by God, though that is the necessary beginning. We must start to make use of every word we receive from, God, every small opportunity he gives us to be guided and to show ourselves obedient, so that we become able to more easily hear his voice. When St Anthony heard the Gospel being read – If you would be perfect, go sell all you have, give to the poor and come follow me – he took it as a word to himself, and found grace and courage to obey.
For most of us, there is wisdom in beginning with the ordinary obedience of every day life, unless we do receive such a strong sense of hearing a word we must obey.
How do we begin to find the guidance of God, and the grace to obey, in the ordinary things? It seems to me that there are several aspects. I have sometimes thought about visiting the monastery of St Anthony, and climbing the mountain to his cave, and perhaps meeting Father Lazarus and speaking with him.
But I always imagine that he would throw stones down at me from the heights and shout at me saying – Go and do what you already know to do, before you come seeking something else! Of course I would not expect him to do this, but this is what God seems to say to me as I think about this. Why do you want to receive more instruction when you have not put into practice what you have already been taught?
The Right Path | The Spiritual Experience Of God
The first aspect of that way of obedience which is proper for all Christians, is to seek to deepen our spiritual experience of God. We cannot hear God very clearly if we are far from him. In Jeremiah the Lord says,
Pray to me, and I will listen to you. And seek me out, and you will find me, because you will seek me with your whole heart, and I will appear to you.
We should not expect to be guided by God if we do not seek him with our whole heart. In practice, it seems to me, this means that we must become like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and commended by him, rather than Martha, who was busy with so much activity in her own strength and wisdom that she had no time for Jesus. But it is easy for us to imagine that we should always be busy, with our own plans and with service in the Church. This is a mistaken notion.
The Right Path | To Be Obedient
We are not called to be busy but to be obedient, and obedience requires us to wait and listen for the word of God, and to do those things we already know we should do.
Our daily prayer life is the basis of our experience of life with God, nourished and sustained by the sacraments. If we wish to be guided by God, then it is this relationship which must be the central focus of our concern. Often we do not think that this is the right way to find God’s will for some special situation in our life.
“We begin with the Eucharist. In this sacrament the Word of God gives us his own body and blood, which is the means by which we sustain our union with him.” Fr. Peter Farrington | Guide Me In The Right Path [P2].
This is usually because we are taking care of everything in our lives in our own will and wisdom, and have only turned to God because this is a more significant issue. But we should not expect to find guidance if we have failed to seek it in everything else, and we are sometime left confused when it seems that God does not speak or act. But the problem is that we have not listened or obeyed, often over many years.
The Right Path | Live In Union With God
What shall we do? We must decide that with God’s grace we will now seek to enter into a closer union by the indwelling Holy Spirit. God does not usually shout at us. The various exiles and captivities of the Jewish people were all the last resort. The people of God had ignored his messengers for so many years. It was not what God had wanted for his people. Likewise, we sometimes turn to God only in the last resort, and this is better than never turning to him at all, but it is not his will.
He wants us to live in union with him by the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we can hear his still, small voice, a voice that whispers and comforts.
We begin with the Eucharist. In this sacrament the Word of God gives us his own body and blood, which is the means by which we sustain our union with him. It does not matter so much if we do not have wonderful feelings, especially if we feel that we must draw closer to God. This is where we are beginning. We must receive these divine gifts as they are given to us, for life and salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ himself says,
“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” Fr. Peter Farrington | Guide Me In The Right Path [P2].
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.
The Right Path | Eucharist
If we wish to be guided by God then we need his divine life within us, and he must become Emmanuel, God within us, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. And so the beginning must be to receive Christ himself as he offers himself to us in the Eucharist. We can do nothing without him. Do we need some other instruction other than this which Christ gives us?
There are reasons why we might avoid the Liturgy, but if we are serious about seeking the guidance of God in all things, then we must attend the services of the Church, try to put all negative thoughts about others, or ourselves, away from us, and seek only to receive Christ in humility, with repentance, with faith and in hope.
This divine medicine, this true bread of Heaven, is the necessary basis of our spiritual life, and therefore our union with God by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We begin to receive guidance when we begin to obey what we have already been taught. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
God certainly wants to guide us, as we will discover the word and will of God more easily heard and understood. To be continued…
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-02-08 from Liverpool, England
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