I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Terrie Marrie Childers’ reflection on responding to God’s invitations.
A few years ago I returned to the workplace full time, accepting a position as the administrative assistant to the police chief in our town. I enjoy working with the officers and this job was definitely a divine appointment. However, as a contemplative individual, the long work day in a secular environment often leaves my soul parched and thirsty for spiritual refreshment.
The “Monk in the World” concept has been such a helpful perspective for me and this dear community is a continual encouragement. As I studied the commitments described in the Monk Manifesto I began to see each one as an invitation to intimacy with the Holy One. Gradually, I embraced the practice of being attentive and responsive to the invitations presented to me in the middle of every ordinary day.
My morning drive down backroads on the way to the station invites me to deepen my kinship with creation as I notice the beauty of untouched nature. My break times at the office invite me to step away for a few precious moments of silence to “be still and know.” My interactions with prisoners in our small jail invite me to show hospitality to strangers and demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ to individuals outside my typical social circle.
As I practice expectant awareness regarding these divine invitations I’ve noticed a few things.
First, invitations are personal. When I receive a gilded invitation to an extravagant birthday party, I can’t transfer that to another person and send them in my stead. The request is not for a body, any body, to be present. It is for ME, uniquely and personally.
Second, invitations compete for my time and attention. In order to respond affirmatively to an invitation, I must refuse other possible engagements. I must value that invitation above other entertainments, usually because I value that relationship above others.
Finally, invitations hold expectations for a response. I must make a choice, I must RSVP, I must show up – or the invitation is worthless.
Most of the invitations I acknowledge are for a short sacred pause or a brief moment of Presence. Not long ago, however, while enjoying a weekend getaway, God gave me a surprising and delightful invitation of a more substantial nature. My friend and I were on a private retreat featuring large chunks of time for silence, prayer and study as well as walks in nature and art making. On the second morning I hurried through my morning devotions (we must adhere to our schedules, you know) when God stopped me in my tracks with a gentle whisper, “Linger with Me.” I realized that in my compulsive haste to get on to the next scheduled event, I was neglecting the One with whom I longed to abide. This is what I wrote in my journal regarding that encounter:
Yesterday as I was finishing
my brief morning prayers
Jesus invited me to
linger a little longer.
What a sweet offer of Presence!
Why hurry to some distracted busyness?
Why scramble to empty preoccupations?
Why rush to a chaotic and choking schedule?
Sacred life is lived
quiet, deep and slow!
Time for stillness and waiting and listening.
Time for introspection and questions and wondering.
Time for just resting in the bliss of Christ’s Presence –
kissing His feet and whispering tender words of devotion.
If God, who holds the planets in their orbits
and binds the oceans to their limits;
who ordains governments
and raise up kingdoms;
who sustains my every breath
and decrees my every heart beat…
If the sovereign and supreme
King of the universe
has time for me…
Why not linger a little longer?
I am convinced that divine invitations abound and are liberally scattered through our hurried days, if only we would notice them. My prayer for each of us is that we would be attentive to God’s whispered invitations and that when we hear them our response will be a resounding and ecstatic YES!
I live in rural Texas with Doug, my darling husband of 34 years. I am mom to my two grown children and “Nunny” to my four grandarlings. I am passionate about art journaling and enchanted by words and in my free time I can be found outdoors with my notebooks, paints and prayer beads, trysting with the Beloved.