My wife, Maree, and I attended the Mount Sion prayer Group in Sallynoggin in the late 1970’s where we did a Life in the Spirit Seminar. This is a 7 week programme of teachings, sharing’s, prayer and scripture readings.
One of the readings we had to read and meditate on was 1Corinthians 12. This is the piece of Scripture that explains that an ear is not an eye nor is a foot a hand. It goes on to explain that we as a Christian people are just as diverse and that we all have our own individual gifts that we bring to the Church and the world. The main point being that we all belong to the one body. This made very good sense to me and I said to myself “I wonder if there is any more good material like that on the next page”.
Turning over the page, I found 1Cor. 13. This is the magnificent chapter that explains in very clear and simple terms what Love is. It says that Love is patient, kind, believes in all things, is never boastful or proud, it hopes trusts and believes in all things, it never comes to an end. This was the first time I had seen Love being so simply explained. It was such a revelation to me, that I could not read any other piece of Scripture for a while, it was fascinating. After some time, I looked at it and took out the word Love and put in my own name and suddenly got a picture of who I was called to be. I was not always patient or kind and could be boastful and proud. I did not measure up to what Love was really all about. But I still came back to that piece of Scripture.
One day I remembered that St. John was referred to as “the beloved” or “the disciple that Jesus Loved”. So I thought that if he was loved, maybe he would have something to say about Love. So I started to read St. Johns writings and I came across the comment in Johns Gospel “God is Love”. I then went back to 1 Cor. 13 and took out the word Love and put in the word God. Immediately I got a picture of who God is; He is Love. I then, with equal conviction, could see who I was in relation to God. Then I could see a lot more clearly the circle of God, Ger and how I should live in Love, because that is the way God has asked us to live. This was a very long way from the tough “policeman” God with the big stick that I had experienced in my younger life, and I am most thankful to Him that He found a way to keep me faithful to Him, even if I felt distant from Him at times.
Looking back on that time and seeing how God was dealing with me and especially the “gentlemanly” way he showed me who He is, it leaves me astounded and very humbled. When I think about the universe and all that it contains and accept that it was God who made it all, well, I am only in awe and fascinated by it all. In the middle of all of that, He made little old me. (”Well, not so old. Is 68 old?) Looking back at that time, I feel I was given a special key and it was left up to me as to whether I wanted to use this key to find out more about God and how he felt about me. I did not feel I was being pressurised, a sense of “In your own time, Ger. When ever you are ready to use it, I will be waiting for you” So after the Life in the Spirit Seminar I did not feel anything major happen to me in the Spiritual sense. I began to read the bible. This was a thing I had never done in my life. It was not part of my schooling and was not part of my teenage years. Even though the first thing we bought for our married life was a Bible, I had never opened it or read it.
After the seminar, I began to read it. I started to find little gems of information. Like, in the book of Ezekiel where it said “All the gold and silver are mine, says the Lord”. This was a revelation to me, because I was a worrier about money. With a large family to look after it was nice to know that it was God who was in charge and He would provide for me and my family in the practical things of life if I trusted Him.. I think the biggest thing I took away from that Seminar was how down to earth practical Scripture is. How solid it is for me to rely on even down to my daily needs. That is why I kept going back to 1Cor.13, all about Love and how practical it all is. Even when it came to my place of work, a colleague said to me one day, “You have become very quiet and calm these days, Ger”. I just smiled and nodded affirmatively and gently let my eyes drift heavenwards. He said “Oh! God!” a little bit sarcastically, I thought. I again smiled and nodded affirmatively and left him to scratch his head as he walked away. As he walked away, I thought to myself, he opened the subject, I never spoke a word (except with my eyes!) and he was the one who had mentioned Gods name.
Looking back on that time of growth in my life, I can see that it all started with the Life in the Spirit Seminar. I found a new peace as I began to live my life under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. One thing I can see very clearly is that the troubles and stresses of everyday life did not go away, but my shoulders were strengthened to carry the load safely.