Monday, May 04, 2009

What is Spiritual Direction?

This has turned out to be a very important question in my life.

I was first introduced to Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Directors while in Seminary. My own initial reaction to these terms was not particularly positive. But I trusted the people who were wanting to define and explain these terms to me. The more it was explained to me the more curious I got.

Eventually, I was invited to participate in a Spiritual Direction group. A year or so after that I decided to ask the Lord to lead me to a Spiritual Director I would be comfortable meeting with. The Lord provided one in California and now again in Texas. I'm about to share a few quotes from a book I'm reading by Alice Fryling. The title is Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction. These quotes may help you to understand what I mean when I refer to these terms in the future. In some ways I am already interacting with people in this way. I believe the Lord is leading me to some additional training.

"The Beginnings of Spiritual Direction - Spiritual direction is a way of companioning people as they see to look closely, through the eyes of their hearts, at the guidance and transforming work of God in their lives. It's a practice that began in the early years of Christianity when people followed the desert mothers and fathers out to the wilderness to ask them how to know God. Over the years, spiritual direction has appeared in many faith traditions. It was kept alive in the Christian faith mainly through the Roman Catholic Church, but today the Protestant church is rediscovering it. People throughout the Christian Church, including those of an evangelical orientation, are experiencing again the gifts that God gives to his people through the loving listening and gentle guidance of spiritual directors. This gift is usually offered in the context of individual spiritual direction, but the potential for spiritual direction in small groups is a growing and promising expression of the ministry of spiritual companionship." pg. 11

My comments: The Spirit of God is the one who does the directing. A spiritual director believes God does this and is moved by God to sit there with you as you explore through words the dynamics of your relationship with God. Always grounded in the Word of God and relationship with God. Listening for questions that God may want the directed to explore more. And providing encouragement through faith in the One who is able to provide all that we need.

"Group spiritual direction provides a unique opportunity in the life o the church or community of believers. It is different from more typical conversations such as the superficial (but necessary) hi-how-are-you encounters or those that go a bit deeper but sill require out best-dressed presentations. It's also different from our conversation and groups that revolve around meeting needs (casseroles for those who are sick, babysitting for those who are tired, mission work for those who are needy). It is different from teaching Bible Study adult education classes, seminars and workshops. All of these are very good things to do. (Cheri- Essential things) But they do not provide the unique opportunity given in spiritual direction: the opportunity to be heard to have someone listen to us as we describe the milestones, detours and questions of ours own spiritual journeys." pg. 12

My personal experiences, encounters with the Lord and other believers in Group Spiritual Direction meetings and one on one times, have been life-changing encounters with God for me. Among other things they have fueled courage and faith in my time alone with the Lord and as I interact with others.

I continue to receive confirmation through the Word of God, my time alone with Him, and conversations with people in the body of Christ that I am to continue to offer a ministry of listening and spiritual companionship with others.

I wish I could convey to you how much faith it has taken to write this post. And how delighted I am to be following God on this adventure of faith!

I'd appreciate your prayers for True Hearts: Nurturing souls in Grace as I continually ask God to show me what is next for me to do. I'm attending a training program introduction night here in Dallas on the 15th and need to decide about applying or not by June 1st.

Thanks for listening!

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