Spirituality for Today – January 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 6

A New 365

By Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of a blue desk calendar with some pages floating toward the viewerIf life is a journey, it is lived one step at a time - three hundred and sixty-five of them every year. Each day is a step along the path of life; each step is a class in the art of living. Mastering the proper skills of living as the Creator wishes is a labor presented afresh with each new dawn. Baptism makes discipleship our charge. For how else is Christ to be seen and heard and felt in this age if not by the witness of his people.

Even during his lifetime, Jesus sent his disciples on missionary activities. Perhaps, modern day followers of Christ do not recognize themselves in that role, but it is a calling they share. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christians are commanded to live with the intent of promoting love as Christ taught. While this approach to life sounds blissful, it is excessively challenging. The potential of wickedness in human nature being what it is. Seemingly, global events and personal experience would advise against having much hope for the betterment of the human condition. The march of the true believer often must be supported and encouraged by the good people of God against the machinations of the ill-willed people of sin. Yet, it is precisely to the graceless that the best work of the Christian is to be accomplished. For the Christian to act rightly in the face of maltreatment necessitates an abundance of thoughtfulness and wisdom, an unflagging confidence in the One who bore such persecutions in order to secure salvation for all.

The healing power of such love is illustrated in the following story. Divorce was a humbling experience for Kristin Armstrong. The breakdown of her marriage to cyclist Lance Armstrong devastated her life. The compassionate help of family and friends not only soothed the emotional wounds of her divorce, but also affected a spiritual reawakening in her soul. Kristin Armstrong's book, Happily Ever After: Walking with Peace and Courage through a Year of Divorce, relates her inspiring trek.

During the worst of it, she tried therapy (a waste of time, she says). So in the end, she turned to friends to repair her damaged heart. She all but plunged into running, friendships, family, writing, and painting, but all of them paled in comparison to… faith, my faith in God. I'm a Christian Catholic. I've always been this way, but I think definitely anytime you go through a season of trial in your life, your faith deepens. It's something beautiful that comes out of a difficult time. At least, it worked that way for me. There's no doubt about it. I wouldn't have made it without it.

– From an interview by Michael Cranberry The Dallas Morning News

God faded into the background of Kristin's life while things were going well in her marriage. She said that pride and a belief that she was in control of her fate blinded her to the need of God. When everything went wrong, the truth not only of her vulnerability to tragedy, but also of her need of God became manifestly clear. The power of God's presence in her soul would take her from despair to joy.

The events chronicled by Kristin Armstrong in her book is one example of a happening that must be legion throughout the world in the efforts of people who realize the Great Commandment of love of God, of neighbor, and of self. These narrations are the blossoming of true hope and love and peace. These beautiful tales provide clear evidence of the possibilities that lie within the human heart when touched by the grace of God and by the conviction that one can attain a higher plane of existence when one walks with God.

To make one's way securely through life and into eternity in the shadow of God would be anyone's dream. The fulfillment of that dream is within one's reach. One needs only the will and the courage to grasp it. It is the mission of the faithful to hold fast to the command of Christ to spread the Gospel through one's unique personhood. Living the Gospel requires a great assurance and a great love. Although the focus of her words were not related directly to the topic at hand, there is a quotation from the actress Shelly Winters that I believe lends itself aptly to success in living a faithful life. She said, "Security is when I am very much in love with somebody extraordinary who loves me back." There can be no greater source of assurance, confidence, and strength for the one on the journey than to be very much in love with somebody extraordinary – our God – who, indeed, loves us back.