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Spirit of the Living God

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Joel 2:12-18
"Even now," declares the Lord,
    "return to me with all your heart,
       with fasting and weeping and mourning."
Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
       slow to anger and abounding in love,
          and he relents from sending calamity.

One of the most humbling experiences of my life came nearly two years after I had joined the Unification Church, certain I had found the Messiah in Rev. Sun Myung Moon. On a summer afternoon I called my mom from a red phone booth in the middle of rush-hour Grand Central Station. A huge Kodak picture of father and son fishing beamed down in the dusty sunlight.

I hadn't seen my mother and father for over a year. Our telephone conversations rarely ended peacefully. Several of my friends in the "Moonies" had been stolen away by their parents and deprogrammed.

I didn't really know what I was going to say, but I was ready to come home. I remember the conversation going something like this.

"Hi, Mom. I was wondering if you were still coming to Rhode Island for Sandra's wedding."

Mom hesitated. "We aren't coming. I don't think we have time."

I was disappointed. "Oh," I said. "I was thinking maybe I would come home with you."

Mom didn't hesitate. "We'll be there." My throat choked, my eyes filled up with tears. I often remember this moment and know how it is to be loved.

Where did the courage come from to make the call? For just a moment, I got out of the way and the Holy Spirit took over.

"Even now," the Lord said to Joel and his people. No matter what you do or say, I haven't left your side. Even now, you can turn to me. Let my Spirit fill you up. Just get out of the way and the turn will seem as natural and right as taking the next deep breath.

When your Spirit fills me, Father, my thoughts change, my feelings change, my life changes. Thank you, thank you.

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