Why do I Persevere in the Charismatic Renewal?
Sr. Frances DeMott, I.B.V.M.
I do not mention these gifts to boast but only to show how generous God has been to me.
In these later years I do not experience the anointings as intensely as I did in the early days of the Renewal. In most cases an ever so gentle urge within, guided by faith, leads me to use the gifts today and I am never disappointed when I listen to the Spirit. I have noticed that my sense of awareness to make use of the gifts is becoming more sensitive.
It is not difficult to persevere when things are growing, blossoming, and bearing good fruit. I lived through those glorious days when prayer groups were springing up in nearly every large town and city and in many small ones right here in the U.P. and throughout the country. I was being used by God and had the privilege of working with our Liaison in so many areas of the Renewal. We shared the same vision, the same hope, and the same goals. The Spirit was working in power and God's people were experiencing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Over a period of nineteen years our prayer group grew from ten members to ninety members. And then began to decrease down to about ten to twelve. Prayer groups were diminishing in size throughout the country. Some groups discontinued completely. Many who had been faithful were no longer committed. Trials such as these caused me to battle against doubt and discouragement. Time and again the Lord asked us to continue being faithful and keep on keeping on. This word came to us from speakers across the country. Again and again the Lord reminded us that he loves to work with remnants. Situations like these produce tension and a certain anxiety. Perhaps we were more in love with the Renewal than we were in love with the One who brings it about. And he alone knows how to fix the problems and bring a greater good out of every situation.
In the letter of St. James he speaks to us in the very first chapter (James 1:2-4) about how we are to behave in times of trial. "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Why do I persevere in the Charismatic Renewal in time of adversity? I believe that the Lord is not finished renewing the Church as yet and he wants to bring his plan to completion. He chooses weak human instruments to accomplish his work and I want to be available no matter what the cost.
I noticed during prayer that the Lord is doing something new in my life that I haven't seen before. When trials come, when I have to be dependant on others, I noticed a desire within to praise the Lord for it rather than praying for the Lord to remove it, as I have usually done in the past. In April my car, provided by the parish, broke down. `Sister's Chariot' as it was called, is too old to be repaired. So Father is looking into replacing it.
I had a Service Team Meeting to attend in Escanaba, nearly an hours distance. How was I to get there? Three dear friends came to the rescue and got me there and back. There is a real joy looking forward to what the Lord is going to do in a particular situation. And often times God is in no hurry. In the process of working through this particular trial, temptations lurk in the background. What about the overdue doctor appointments and my yearly retreat at Marygrove? Will I be able to give hospitality to the Sister who called last week? All of these questions want to upset me and deprive me of God's peace. So far they are being held at bay and God's peace reigns.
During this `waiting time' the Lord is doing something greater within me than removing my uncomfortable situation. I believe God is bringing the Fruits of the Spirit to a greater degree of perfection within me. There is a sense of peace that comes from waiting on the Lord.
I thank God for every gift he has bestowed on me, every cross he has allowed me to go through, not around, not under or over, but through with him. I realize that the Lord always takes the heaviest part of my cross. One day someone was praying with me and they had a vision of Jesus hanging on the cross and suspended in front of his thorn crowned head was a chalice. I went into prayer about this vision and the Lord seemed to ask me, " Will you take and drink?" My answer was, "Yes, Lord." A few days later at our Saturday morning Women's Prayer we were moved to sing the song, "Balm of Gilead." I was not too familiar with this song but knew that it was a healing song. The second verse , much to my surprise, said;
"My Lord, through pain and sorrow, the cup of fire has drained, then offered me the chalice, whose light alone remains."
As we sang, the vision returned to mind vividly bringing with it great joy and peace.
The Lord asks us in the Charismatic Renewal to persevere. That's what we are doing. The tensions are gone, the discouragement has fled, the future looks hopeful because the Holy Spirit is abounding, flowing, circling, penetrating our prayer groups, parishes, and towns. Hearts are being softened, made docile in order some day (in God's time) to be able to respond to the continued out pouring of the Holy Spirit, the out pouring of God's Love on his people.
Through the Charismatic Renewal I have learned to accept trials, work through difficulties, overcome temptations while at the same time maintaining the Lord's deep and abiding peace. Why would I not persevere?
May all who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit settle for nothing less than a life of holiness!