Listen Every Day
Do you want to be a disciple of Christ? Do you want to be intentional about following him? Are you looking for a personal encounter with him?
While having an encounter with Jesus may be incentive to follow him, that encounter doesn’t necessarily look like an emotional high, where you feel spiritually elevated.
Encountering Jesus raises our awareness of his presence in our life, in the world, and typically increases our desire for greater closeness to him, resulting in a lived experience of him. Encountering Jesus will increase our gratitude and desire to worship God more intensely.
An encounter with Jesus is evidenced by the impact it makes on one’s life. You know someone has had an encounter with Jesus when there is a fire inside them that cannot be quenched. An encounter may be an aha moment, a feeling or sense of being overwhelmed, a quiet whisper or prompting, or even a slow discovery. But no matter the encounter, if it is genuine, it should result in a lived experience of Jesus.
What does a lived experience of Jesus look like?
As I heard it described recently, it is an intentional desire to put God before everything else. In a material saturated world, that can be hard to do, but when the Holy Spirit is moving, the desire becomes a grace-filled movement.
A lived experience of Jesus is about listening, really listening. When you start your day, ask him what he wants you to do. When you need guidance, ask him for help. When you feel lost or downtrodden, turn to him in your grief. If something comes to you in prayer, pay attention to it. If a prompting will not go away, explore it. But remember, God will never prompt you to do harm to yourself or others; healthy discernment can be a tricky business. A good spiritual director can help.
We do a lot of things right in our Catholic parishes, but one area many of us in the pews need to work on is becoming intentional disciples, not just Sunday observers. If we were to grow in this area, we could transform the world—or at least our communities!
Eight years ago Sherry Weddell wrote a book called Forming Intentional Disciples, The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. Check it out. It is timeless.