Tuesday, 21 February 2017

God, our teacher

God teaches us in many ways. Through His Word, we are able to glean wisdom and insight when we take the time to read it in a contemplative, meditative way. When we go to Mass, we are able to invite the Holy Spirit in when we take in the Sacraments and listen to the readings and the homily. In prayer, God shares many things with us, and reading about the lives of the saints is a great way to learn and grow in our faith.

Sometimes, God can be a subtle teacher -- maybe a verse will jump out at you during your Bible study session, or maybe the pastor's homily at Mass will really strike a chord with you. And then there are times when God speaks to you loudly and clearly.

I recently experienced the latter of the two learning styles earlier this week. It's funny, because the verses I read in the Bible, both in the Mass readings from last Sunday, and in the books of the New Testament I was working my way through, all had to do with the same thing: loving our enemies and the people that hurt us, and being forgiving as our Father in heaven forgives us.

It's much easier to hear about love and forgiveness to those that hurt us than to actually live it out, as I learned the very next day. You see, God put an opportunity in my path yesterday, but I didn't see it as such. I won't go into detail, but I regret to say that my habit of reacting in hurt and anger, unfortunately, put spiritual "blinders" on me so that I could not see the big picture -- I could not realize that God was using this trial to help me grow in my faith and to encourage me to form my responses and reactions to be more like Christ.

Thankfully, before things got too out of control, I was able to take some time to reflect, and to look back. And as I did, I realized, "Hey, this situation that I'm in...it's like God looked at what I was reading and studying in the Bible and thought, okay, you're doing great, but you need a little more practice. Here you go!"

I'm not saying that God orchestrated the event that upset me. Considering it involved someone close to me being pretty offensive about my faith, that's obvious. But what He did do, I'm sure of it, is use it as an opportunity to test me, and to teach me.

And what did I learn? Well, first and foremost, I learned that I still have a long way to go to become more Christ-like. Which is totally normal, by the way. This is a lifelong process that we are taking part of. But I also learned that reacting in anger, and having a spirit of anger and resentment, rarely if ever does anything to the object of our bitterness. Instead, it hurts our own selves, and those we love. It's so much better to follow the example of Christ, to turn the other cheek and to keep on forgiving.

I hope, and pray, that God will continue to guide me as I grow in my faith. Whatever His ways of teaching, I pray that I can accept them with joy, and know that he is using it all for my good. After all, as Philippians 1:6 says, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

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