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Spiritual Thought

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  — Romans 12:2


“... It takes courage to move away from the safe place into the unknown, even when we know that the safe place offers false safety and the unknown promises us a saving intimacy with God.” — From Reaching Out by Henri J. M. Nouwen


The spiritual life is a journey of continual transformation to live the fullest life possible, all with God’s help. As we journey, we recognize that this persistent, transformed life is greater than we could have ever imagined for ourselves; and it is not used for selfish gain because it is always grounded within the Kingdom vocation. We enhance this transformation process by developing spiritual disciplines, as in creating a devotion that leads to regular actions (habits) of prayer, Scripture reading and participating in a spiritual community.  

The Greatest Salesman in the World  by Og Mandino, one of the ten major tenets of the book is “I will form good habits and become their slaves.” As our spiritual reflection and discipline raise our awareness, we recognize habits in our lives that lead to our or another’s destruction. In these instances, we recognize the need to develop a new habit (that is edifying) to take its place. For it is not enough to rid ourselves of a bad habit; that habit has to be replaced. For instance, Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step spiritual program helps the chemically addicted person replace the bad habit of chemical abuse with the new habit of meeting regularly and learning new life habits that create the opportunity for healing. 

Another opportunity for life transformation occurs when we experience major changes that we have no control over. Whether it is a death, a divorce or some other great loss, this vehicle for transformation smashes into us — take a breath — and after enduring the collision, we have to respond. Two basic responses evoke themselves in these situations, both of which encompass pain and struggle. One response is to experience despair and feel victimized.  Although a very normal response in the grief process, getting stuck here diminishes the ability to use the change for transformation.  

The other response is to embrace the change with its pain and struggle as a necessary reality and then look deep into our souls while simultaneously asking God and our support system to help us see and grasp the good that is almost always available in the struggle. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” When we do this, we are able to experience what Henri Nouwen expressed as a saving intimacy with God.

May we, with God’s help, embrace our present and future, experiencing a saving intimacy with the Divine!

Joseph F. Perez, M. Div., BCC
Vice President, Pastoral Services
(956) 389-1194