The Intersection of the Spiritual and the Physical in Everyday Life
Throughout my entire life, I have been instructed to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit. I was encouraged to seek divine direction for every aspect of my life. These words of wisdom came directly from my parents and grandparents. They were often echoed in prayers, songs, the Holy Scriptures, pastoral exhortation in the preached moment during our Sunday church services, Sunday School teachings, Baptist Training Union meetings, and even during Vacation Bible School gatherings. I keenly remember listening to my mother sing such words of wisdom while she cleaned the kitchen and did other household chores. One of her favorite songs was,
"I am weak, and I need thy strength and power
To help me over my weakest hour.
Help me through the darkness thy face to see.
Lead me, oh Lord. Lead me.
Lead me. Guide me along the way.
For if you lead me, I cannot stray.
Lord, let me walk each day with thee.
Lead me, oh Lord!
Lead me. "
In my adult life, one of my favorite songs encouraging God's direction in my life is eloquently sung by the Georgia Mass Worship Choir.
"Order my steps in your word, dear Lord.
Lead me guide me every day.
Send your anointing, Father I pray.
Order my steps in your word.
I want to walk worthy, my calling to fulfill.
Please order my steps Lord,
and I'll do your perfect will.
The world is ever-changing,
but you are still the same.
If you order my steps,
I'll praise your name."
The focus of these songs are definitively underscored by numerous Scriptures that include, but are not limited to,
Our steps are made firm by the Lord,when he delights in our way; Psalm 37:23 NRSV
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33 NRSV
In these ways, I have become keenly aware of the necessity to allow God to lead me in the accomplishment of the purposes for which I have been created. However, the acknowledgement and understanding of these instructions and the application of them are two very different concepts. One is ethereal while the other is tangible.
When such ideas are embedded in one's psyche, it is not unusual to see them manifested in their daily living. When we commit these prayers, songs, scriptures, and words of exhortation to memory, they generally gently influence our decision making, and if we are truthful to ourselves, we can see God's direction for our lives become somewhat apparent. However, to be truly led by the Spirit of God, I believe one must be intentional about living out these ideas. Intentionality must trump evolution. Consequently , I pray and meditate every morning before leaving for work. Listening to Gospel music and reading inspirational passages during the day helps me to stay in a state of spiritual awareness that empowers me to be more attentive to the direction of the Spirit of God. Starting a meeting with prayer helps all involved to engage in conversation in a spirit of peace while closing a meeting with prayer seems to seal the discussion and encourage further collegiality. I am especially fond of the Meditation Room set up on the fifth floor of the West LA campus and the monthly Sacred Centering (Bible Study) sessions that we have there. Most importantly, when I have one scripture that guides the organizational efforts, it helps to keep everyone focused on the goal, striving to fulfill the same mission.
It seems that these activities help to build a community of integrity, excellence, and compassion that causes all involved to prosper. While the practical application is a significant factor, I believe something unique occurs at the intersection of the spiritual and the physical. Something intangible yet as concrete as the ground upon which we stand; something that is ethereal yet is as palpable as the smart device upon which this writing is composed. It sparks ideas, teaches lessons, and yields experiences that exceed all expectations. It speaks to our very core, allowing us to seemingly touch the divine, to be co-laborers with Christ, to experience the miraculous. The encounter is so exhilarating that we find ourselves secretly, or not so secretly, awaiting the opportunity to experience the divine once again.
It is in this moment, in this space, that we intrinsically comprehend the value of being genuinely led by the spirit of God, and we are grateful for the opportunity. Such is the hope and the dream of one who joins an organization that claims to "ascribe to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values,..." Such is the hopes and dreams of one whose practical life is anchored in her mother's songs and father's prayers for divine direction.
|Helen Easterling Williams, EdD, is Dean and Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University.|