Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

The more I think about the film Diary of a Country Priest the more amazed I am about the little spiritual principles that popped up throughout the film, many of them that I had not considered before. Here are a few examples:

A cold heart is a sin.  In one scene the priest ministers to a countess who has suffered tremendous loss and injustice in her life. She has developed an icy heart towards everyone because she is trying to protect herself from more pain. She keeps telling the young priest that she has done nothing wrong, but he points out that her hardness of heart is a sin because it grows out of bitterness and prevents her from being sensitive to others. We must allow our hearts to be broken for the sake of others who may need us. It is impossible to serve God or people with a cold heart.

We can channel God’s strength to others in our weakest moments. In one scene in the film, the priest blesses a woman and she makes her peace with God, while the priest admits in his journals he has no peace within himself at the time. He is amazed that he can  “give to others the very thing he does not possess.” This is a great mystery of faith, that we can channel the strength of God for others even during our weakest moments. I am thankful for this, because if we relied on our own strength, many people would have been left without hope when they needed it most.

The intent to pray is a prayer in itself.  The young priest finds at times that he cannot pray at all, but God knows he intends to and grants his requests anyway. This one I had heard before from an elderly deacon who told me God could honor the prayer we forgot to pray after we promised someone we would, and He could even go back in time and grant the request retroactively! This comes in handy when someone asked you to pray about their surgery yesterday, and you forget until tomorrow. He knows my intent and that I am going to remember tomorrow, and He controls time and space, so why is that so surprising?

It’s all grace anyway. While living in a little village, the priest suffers spiritually, mentally, and physically and often feels that his work is more than he can possibly handle. But he realizes that it’s all God’s grace anyway, and that He works through our frailties to bless others. The Spirit is willing even when the flesh is weak.

Peace be with you,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27: 46

Diary of a Country Priest

Diary of a Country Priest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I watched the French film, Diary of a Country Priest, and though it was pretty dreary and dark for the most part, there were moments that held great meaning for me. To provide you with a brief summary, the story is of a young priest who moves into a village where he is not well-received and he experiences poor health and many spiritual battles. From the beginning, he is told by an older priest that a true  priest does not expect to be loved, and also understands that all of his agonizing labors during the day are undone during the night. The young priest experiences alienation from the people he wants to bless and minister to.

As a believer, I was able to immediately identify with this young priest and his inner battles. The most powerful moment for me is after the priest concludes that God has left him and that he can no longer pray because everything in his being is fighting it, and he is thoroughly disillusioned and weary. The older priest comes to him and says that if the soul could possibly drag the body back two thousand years to be with Christ for a moment, it would carry him to one place- the olive grove. At that moment, the younger priest began to weep as he felt God’s grace fall upon him. He realized that Christ was sharing His Gethsemane experience with him- he called it “holy agony.”

That resonated with me very deeply because it is our human nature to want all of the good things but no unpleasantries- no sweat, tears, or anguish. As a believer, I would like to always be ministering and blessing people and experiencing God’s presence near me. But even Christ had to experience isolation, abandonment, and dreadful loneliness.

It made me wonder if I have been merely a “fair weather friend” to Christ or a sincere disciple. With an acquaintance, I can only share the surface of my life. But with my closest friends, I can reveal the deepest joys and agonies of my soul. So shouldn’t I feel privileged that Christ should share His deepest torments with me?

He wants us to heal and minister and share the gospel and be bold in our spiritual walk. But He also calls us to hunger and the temptation in the desert, rejection by people we love, and even the cross. The early disciples understood this and rejoiced when they were able to partake in Christ’s mental and physical suffering.

I am thankful that I have a whole new perspective today!

Peace be with you,

Sister Olive

~♥~

 

Read Full Post »

Before I say too much on the subject of prayer, let me state that I don’t feel that I am anyone special and I have no special powers. Jesus said that some people have much more to be forgiven than others, and I consider myself to be one of that kind. I have always felt a bit like Mary Magdalene must have felt in the presence of Christ.

~

In spite of my failures God has been kind to me, and I love a song that people used to sing at the church I attended for many years. The words to that song are:

It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open, He’ll welcome you.
It is no secret what God can do.

So what has He done for me and my friends when we have prayed? I will recount a few instances where prayer changed the whole landscape of a serious problem.

~

I once worked with a lady at a school for the deaf and blind, and her name was Roberta. She came to work one day very distraught, and I asked her what was the matter. She said that her daughter-in-law Cynthia had just left her son and had taken their child with her. Roberta said that cruel heartless words had been spoken to her son by Cynthia before she left. Her son was grieving and any mother can relate to that helpless feeling when her children are in pain and she can’t do anything to help.

So Roberta asked me to pray for her son and Cynthia. I suggested that we pray together and separately about the matter, because Christ said that if two people who believe agree upon something, there is great power in that prayer. I recommended that we meditate upon the verse in Ezekiel in which God promises to take out a heart made of stone and replace it with a heart made of flesh. We agreed to pray that Cynthia’s stony heart would be softened towards her husband and that she would come home. We wrote two copies of that scripture on slips of paper to take home and promised to pray earnestly about the matter. I reminded Roberta that God doesn’t always act quickly upon our requests, but that it is an exercise of our faith when we have to wait.

Then two or three days later, I drove up to the school just as Roberta was parking in the lot. As I turned my car off, I looked up and saw her running towards me. Her face was glowing with excitement, and I knew this was going to be amazing. I opened the door and stepped out and she said, “Olive, you will never believe what has happened!” She told me that she had been praying with many tears before God, and that Cynthia had called her son that morning, weeping and begging his forgiveness and said she wanted to come home. We were so happy and our faith was increased because of what occurred- in only a few days the whole situation was turned around!

~

Another time, I was having severe financial problems and I am the kind that hates to pray about money. It really bothers me because so many people pray for things they don’t really need. But I was really in trouble. So while I was in church for a Wednesday night prayer meeting, I decided to pray silently for God’s help. I have learned to wait for the Spirit to begin to move in the congregation before offering up my prayers. The House of God is a very powerful place during these times. It was a little after 8 o’clock in the evening in Florida when I began praying and I said, “Lord, I never come to you about money as you know, but we are really in a mess and we need your help so that we can meet our needs. If it is your will, please help us in your own way.” After prayer meeting had ended, I returned home and called the bank because I was afraid of getting an overdraft. But I noticed that my account had increased by several hundred dollars since earlier that day! I was very confused so I called the twenty-four-hour customer service line to find out what had happened. As it turned out, someone in Oregon who had owed me money for quite some time had made a deposit right after they got off work at 5 o’clock that evening. It dawned on me that there was a three-hour time difference between Florida and Oregon, and that just as I had started praying on the east coast, money was being deposited on the west coast! I would never make something like this up to impress people. This really happened!

Okay, here is one more incident: about three months ago, I had a mammogram. Normally if you don’t hear anything about it within two or three days, you know that everything is okay. So I thought I was cleared. I had planned a trip out of state about two weeks later. But two weeks later on a Friday afternoon, I received a very disturbing call about my results. A woman on the phone said the radiologist had spotted something and wanted more tests as soon as possible. I was shocked that it had taken so long for them to contact me. I asked if I could come in that day and they said it was too late and the doctor was gone for the weekend. I am a terrible worrier and I knew I had to go the whole weekend without knowing what was happening, and my imagination always runs wild in situations like this. Also, I was supposed to leave early Monday morning on my trip. So I decided I would leave later on Monday than planned. I called every praying person that I knew and requested their prayers. I asked them to pray that nothing serious was happening and that I would be able to go on my planned journey after my appointment.

My loved ones and I were sweating all weekend over this, and I was talking to people about what to do if something happened to me. Well, Monday morning came and I was a nervous wreck. I went in to the breast center and put on the little white waffle knit robe and waited, and the technician called me in. Usually I can remember faces, but I couldn’t see her through the fog of uncertainty that day. She took a series of pictures and sent me back to the waiting room. A wonderful sweet lady was waiting there too and I felt an immediate connection with her and we talked as if we had been close friends for years. It was so surreal in that room. Then the technician called me a second time and I broke into another sweat as she took more pictures. She sent me back to wait and the sweet lady was gone. A few minutes later the technician walked in and said, “The radiologist wanted me to check you thoroughly a second time because what he saw in the previous series two weeks ago seems to have vanished completely. There is nothing there now.” I don’t have to tell you how I felt or how my loved ones reacted. I even thought that God had placed that angel in the waiting room. All of the people who prayed for me were rejoicing because it increased their faith and I felt honored to be part of that.

~

I could tell you other stories and I will write them in the future, but the point is that God is really listening to all of us at the same time- and He doesn’t even get confused. He is truly amazing, and I am so glad to be His child by faith.

Shalom,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

Read Full Post »

I know that I have been neglecting my writing for some time for a variety of reasons, but I hope to get busy again before long. I have continued looking in on your blogs and have not forgotten you.

I know it sounds cliche to say that trials and temptations are always along my path, but if you are a spiritual wayfarer, you know how it is. Sometimes we create our own woes by trying to be tough and manage our own affairs without God and sometimes our character is being put to the test, but I have learned that it’s all right as long as I don’t forget who I belong to.

I watched a film about Martin Luther recently, and how he was plagued with fears over his soul while he was young. A certain priest told him that he should hold on to Christ with all of his might and pray continually “I am yours. Save me.” This is a beautiful prayer for a child of God, because we are so helpless without our Father.

I have realized a few scary new things about my damaged heart during the past year or so.  I have discovered that many of my relationships in life- friends, sweethearts, even spiritual leaders- have been part of my subliminal search for parents. I have sought unconsciously for people to take care of me and comfort me and I have never been as responsible and self-sufficient as many adults, because there is still a frightened child living inside my body.

Fortunately God has dispatched many human angels to me over the years, who have carried my burdens with great love. But since I’ve had this epiphany, I want to rise above these fears that have troubled me for so long. I think about the words Christ spoke after He healed a certain woman. He said, “Be of good cheer. Thy faith has made thee whole.” Only Christ has the power to repair all of my damage, and no human being can ever be as trustworthy as He is.

I have loved Christ for most of my life, so pray that I might truly find my peace in Him. The scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Shalom,

“Sister Olive”

~♥~

 

Read Full Post »

Does anyone remember an old game show called “To Tell the Truth” in which contestants would ask questions to try to discern who was a certain celebrity among several impostors? My experiences with church have been that way, and I still find myself looking for a real and true one with humble honest leaders.

I have always loved Jesus since I was a child, but for me institutionalized religion has proven mostly boring and disillusioning. For many years of my life, I have worn the church around my neck like an oversized hunk of costume jewelry, while my non-Christian friends have been politely unimpressed, because they could see that it’s not real.

A precious gem like Jesus deserves better than an old tarnished setting. I want people I know to be drawn into His beauty and majesty, but within the context of my broken life and my church, people have not taken enough notice of Him. I love Christ and His teachings, and I am tired of all the unnecessary trappings.

I have been out of the church scene for a long time now because I am weary of the stained-glass aquariums and the theatrics and the building funds and the blessing of billboards instead of people, and those trite church sayings by every roadside. I don’t believe Christ would subscribe to any of this nonsense that is being done in His name.

Is this really as good as it gets for Christian believers in America? If so, I suppose I will be a lonely follower of Jesus for a long time.

Please pray for me to find a church where I can go without getting angry.

Shalom,

Sister Olive

 

Cover of "Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Th...

 

Read Full Post »

Two things inspired me to write a little bit of story. My father and I had been messaging each other about emotional demons and roses, and I have been re-reading “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S.Lewis.

The demon had been troubling the lady for most of the night while she yearned for sleep, his tongue flitting in and out of his twisted lips with torturous words. He snarled that her life had no meaning and that everything she had tried to do for others had been of no avail. He screamed that no one cared if she lived or died, and that she was no longer of any use to God or man. He lashed at her with all the pains from the past and the fears of her unknown future. She wept and begged him to leave her alone but he drew closer and closer to her lavender pillow. Sweat gathered on her face from his hot breath and his odor became unbearable. That’s when it happened so unexpectedly. She reached for the wild magenta rose in the vase by her bed so she could inhale its divine fragrance. Its petals gently swiped the face of the demon and he shrieked in horror. She saw that it had scorched the side of his distorted grey ear and his flesh was melting like wax onto her bed. He ran from the room in rage and pain as she cried out, “I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”

~♥~

Peace be with you during this Holy Week,
“Sister Olive”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »

My little collection of spiritual stories for children is now available on Kindle!  41gwQW-JXNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-50,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Here is the link to the Amazon description: 

http://www.amazon.com/Storytelling-Scarecrow-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B00G61D94Q/ref=la_B00GY6R5CK_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391281551&sr=1-2

Thank you for stopping by!

Shalom,

Sister Olive

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: