Learning and Discerning Vocations: …. Baby Steps to God; Obstacles

 The following is an article that I wrote under my pen name “Irina Demkiw”
and it was published in “Progress” (a bi-weekly Ukrainian community newspaper) and
my irinademkiw.wordpress.com blog site on December 11, 2011.

When I desire more of what God has for me, I am feeling the need to draw closer. I sense that He wanted me to come and listen. This listening is such a learning curve. For me to hear His messages is life giving.

As I am learning how to listen, I am recognizing that there are times when I find it almost impossible to hear. I pray hoping to discover what am I doing differently when I am unable to hear and when I am able to hear.

Sometimes I sense that I desire to hear the message from God more than spending time with Him. I have been taught that this is a selfish attitude that is really out of order in the listening practice. God has designed us to be a reflection of Himself and so He knows when we are pure hearted towards Him or self-seeking when we reach to Him. I know that when someone wants something from me more than being with me, I am not too receptive to hear him or her. I feel used.

Sometimes I want to hear God’s message so that I might find relief from the struggle and pain in my life. Again, my attitude is not pure. I am like a child reaching and demanding His attention. God is so loving and compassionate that He will still receive me and let me know that He is with me. Scripture says that God will never leave us.

When I have acknowledged to God that He is my all and I cannot live without Him being at the helm of my life, I am beginning the path to a pure heart. To love God without an agenda is the start of pure heart loving – unconditionally loving Him and receiving Him and desiring to be in His Presence. When I get lost in this loving of God, and I stop living in my head, I am moving closer to fulfilling the scripture,

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10 (KJV)

Someone shared with me many years ago that her aunt made a point of going to prayer with an agenda of not ever asking God for anything but to spend time in thanking Him only. I was so touched by the story and have tried it. I found it to be difficult because my inner child wanted to have my needs met. I found it to be work to spend time only thanking Him for my life and all the graces provided for me. Surprisingly, this work has proven to be joyous. When I have worked at praising God, my spirit is lifted out of its comfort zone and enters into a space where I sense a greater freedom and happiness than when I began to pray.

The early church fathers have often taught about the Jesus prayer. This prayer is similar to only praising God and thanking Him for all graces received. This prayer takes my thinking out of myself and my head and heart soon are in oneness. Praying this prayer in rhythm of my breathing has been so beneficial to my hearing God’s voice. I have occasionally read the early church fathers and do pray the Jesus prayer. These are tools to help me hear God’s voice.

My major obstacle to hearing God’s voice is sin.

I need help to even recognize my sins. I use books that have been written to teach how to discern sin as a preparation for confession. Sometimes, I need to have my spiritual director to help me recognize my sins and point me to the steps I need to take to live a healthier spiritual life. A heart committed and fully surrendered is my goal. I cannot even do that without God’s help. I have prayed for God to help me to be surrendered.

I heard from a friend something that made an amazing difference. He told me to give God permission to change whatever needed to be changed in my life so that I could live a better life with Him. It took me a long time to be able to say that prayer with full conviction. But when I finally did, I know that God has embraced me and I am different…..in a good way. I want more.

 

Copyright © 2011 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 Gloria Winn, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Learning and Discerning Vocations: Baby Steps

What is a vocation? My understanding is that it is a call from God on how He wants me to live while I am growing to know, love and serve Him.

This path of vocation is the best that God has for me. If I choose God to be in my life, I have made the first step. This first step is a big one. God is always near but this is a step that declares that I believe He exists, that I believe that He is who He says who He is, and that if He is in my life that means that I need to make room for Him. When I had made this step, the first thing that happened to me was an awareness of His provisions and encouragements and love. As I stepped into this choosing of God to be in my life, I noticed that I was learning that God has chosen me. This began with the scripture that I heard at Divine Liturgy.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other (John 15:9-17, NIV).

When I heard these words, I was intrigued. Jesus’ message of love was clear about loving, about His love for me, His desire that I would have joy, even that He declared friendship, but the most clear message was that He chose me. Me! I reacted with “I am not important enough for God to choose me!” I struggled with that message! The rest of the message was good and encouraging but those words “You did not choose me, but I chose you” caused me to reflect and dig deeper for understanding of just what that meant.

At first, I almost rejected the message because of my own struggle of accepting myself with all my unmet expectations and weaknesses, and peer judgments on me. I prayed and asked God to let me see what He sees when He looks at me. I felt a warmth envelop me. I felt peace and happiness. I was listening with everything in me and I had a desire to “know the truth.” I did not expect anything. But, there was awareness that I was heard. I wanted to take it slow. I did not want to rush.

I found that I was making room for Jesus in my life. Often, I would say His name. I would wake up in the morning and speak to Him about my day. This was a long slow process and it had many, many bumps and breaks. When I had been feeling alone, I would call on Jesus. I did not have anyone in my family who encouraged me to get to know Him. I was always encouraged to “be good” and “listen.” I heard of some young people going to church through the week during Lent. I felt a desire to go too! I went as often as I could and found that I felt good. I wanted more.

Copyright © 2011 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

 

…..published Oct 2,2011 under my pen name, Irina Demkiw, and now —– republished on April 24, 2014 under my personal blog site:  “Small Thinks with Great Love”

Copyright © 2014 Gloria Winn, all rights reserved.