“You are a reluctant prophet,” the retreat director said during our first meeting.
“I have heard that before,” I replied.
I had finally decided to move against my resistance to writing and, more importantly, to sharing what I had written. I had asked for help from a priest who had authored a book on writing as a meditative practice. This request led me to the high desert of New Mexico, where he lived in a monastery. My hermitage was one of four small huts located a short distance from the monastery. The other three huts were unoccupied. In the context of a week’s retreat, I would learn from this published author and start my own writing.
“Maybe you could spend some time with Moses this week,” he suggested. I had heard that before, too, but I didn’t say so. Jeremiah was the reluctant prophet with whom I usually felt a connection, but Moses worked as well. I followed his suggestion and opened my Bible to Exodus. Being in the desert helped me visualize Moses’ journey, and the day the pump froze and we were without water brought home the difficulty of living in the wilderness. Who knew it could get so cold in the desert?
God often gives me insights that I really don’t want to share. “Why me?” I ask God. “I am just…” Sometimes I have spoken a message and been called a “pot stirrer” or worse. Most people don’t want to hear something that challenges their beliefs or invites them to move from their comfort zones.
My default reaction to God’s promptings is to keep my mouth shut. Jonah’s reaction—getting on a ship heading in the opposite direction of where God wanted him to go—makes sense to me. But, as with Jonah, Moses and other reluctant prophets, God usually wins with me too.
My resistance, my silence, often comes back to haunt me. In the end, I usually speak.
Since that retreat seven years ago, I have written and shared a great deal of my personal story through my blog. “Woe is me.com,” my friend Ted dubbed my blog, which was his way of saying I was sharing too much personal information. But my week in New Mexico helped me to feel more comfortable sharing personal information because personal is what God wants me to share.
I remember that when I was fifteen years old I thought that someday I would write a book. The first line would read, “Ever since I was eight years old, I knew God called me in a special way.” The exact meaning of that line was unknown to me, but the truth of it was very clear. God had intervened in my life, and I knew that He desired to be in a close relationship to me. Why else would I feel so closely connected to Jesus and resonate with him as the innocent victim?
On my recent retreat, yet another spiritual director called me a “reluctant prophet” and suggested I spend some time with Moses. Obviously, I still have a ways to go.
Madeline Bialecki grew up in Detroit and recently returned after living in Philadelphia for twenty-eight years. She began writing about her spiritual journey and faith life after the death of her best friend in 2012. She likes to read, knit, bake and garden. She shares her spiritual journey here.