Over the two months after my mother-in-law’s death and my commitment to fully understand her faith I found myself treading in deep waters. I read books from a Catholic perspective, listened to and read testimonies of men and women who had been lifelong evangelicals and had come into the Catholic Church. The story of Scott and Kimberly Hahn in Rome Sweet Home was particularly powerful. The best way to describe what was going on in me is to revisit my prayers and writings found in my journal from that time.
December 27, 2013–Feast of Saint John the Beloved
This morning my mind needs to refocus and take in your glory and the majesty of your grace in our lives. I look to you and trust you to show me the way you would have me to go. What’s your plan and purpose for me? I have no desire to cling to something, especially a role or a position that causes your kingdom to stall. Holy Spirit, I ask you for wisdom and illumination so that it will become clear to me what it is you are calling me to. Either these thoughts and readings are the direction you are leading me or they are a distraction to your original call for me. Spirit of God, make that abundantly clear to me. Either lead me unswervingly into the bosom of the Catholic Church or deeper and more committed to where I am with a greater appreciation for what you are doing on a larger scale. I recognize that this is a process and there are questions you want me to ask and allow you to answer. I do ask that in this process you enable me to look to you, to gaze on your face and live in your grace and do all to the glory of God.
Recognizing that moving away from what I had always known would cost me my vocation (pastoral ministry), my reputation (possibly), and my livelihood, later that same morning I wrote:
Father, I humbly come into your presence and ask you to reveal truth to me. I have desired you all my life. I don’t want anything to keep me from fully and faithfully loving or serving you. You know what is happening in my world and how my spirit is restless in this search. I don’t want to go where I shouldn’t, but I also don’t want to resist where you are leading me. I sense deep in my being that you are calling me “home” to the beauty and fullness of the Catholic Church. That feels strange and uncomfortable on one level to say, but on another level it feels like truth and the natural and logical next step. So Holy Spirit, you are the One who leads into all truth. I come to you and ask you to lead me. Point me to Jesus my Lord, my Savior, my God and my King! You know my heart and my wholehearted desire to obey you. I have always desired that. Make your will for me very evident.
About 20 minutes after I prayed that prayer I went downstairs to get the mail. What I found in the mailbox was either an answer to my prayer or just a coincidence. Allow me to explain. In those days of searching I used a membership I had to paperbackswap.com to help get books at no cost. One of the books I had requested arrived that morning, A Catechism for Adults. There was nothing unusual about that. However inside the white paper wrapping was not only the book I ordered but a card and another package wrapped in Christmas paper from a woman in Lexington, Kentucky, whom I did not know. The card had these words: “What’s in the package is a gift for you!”
Inside the package were two books I had of course not ordered: Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth: The Catholic Church and God’s Plan for You and The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World.
I wrote: Honestly, I can’t take this as anything less than the beginning of the answer to my prayer. Even as I write this I feel scared and a little warm. O God, show me the way!
Last week I wrote to the woman in Lexington and asked her about the package she sent me. Since it came by media mail it had been on the way several days before I asked God to give me a clear sign as to what He wanted in my life. She wrote back and said she was prompted to do so because someone else had sent her some gift-wrapped books. God only knows why she chose those specific books to send me. I thanked her for being an instrument that God used in that part of my journey.