Embracing Hope, by Léa Mallett
OVER Christmas, I took time away from this apostolate to make a necessary reset of my heart, scarred and exhausted from a pace of life that has hardly slowed since I began full-time ministry in 2000. But I soon learned that I was more powerless to change things than I’d realized. This led me to a place of near despair as I found myself staring into the abyss between Christ and I, between myself and the needed healing in my heart and family… and all I could do was weep and cry out.
The insecurities of my youth, the tendencies toward co-dependency, the temptation to fear in a world coming apart at the seams, and a storm last summer that facilitated a “shaking” in our lives… all led me to place of feeling utterly broken and paralyzed. Before Christmas, I realized that a gulf had also grown between my wife and me. That somehow, over the past few years, our gears were no longer in sync, and this was quietly grinding away the unity between us.
I realized that I had to spend some time alone to recalibrate years of habits and thinking patterns that had now shaped my personality. That’s when I wrote Off Into the Night, packed a bag, and took my first night of retreat in a hotel room in the city. But my spiritual director quickly replied saying, “If this is Christ setting you off into the desert, then it will bear much fruit. But if it is your own idea, then it is the wolf encircling and drawing you away from the flock, the end result of which, ‘you’ll get eaten alive’…” Those words shook me because the desire to run was so strong. Something, or rather, Someone was telling me to “wait.”
As for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)
And so, I waited one more night. Then another. And then another. All the time, the Wolf was circling me, trying to draw me into the desert. It’s only in hindsight that I understand now the difference between solitude and isolation. Solitude is a place in the soul, alone with God, where we can hear His voice, dwell in His presence, and let Him heal us. One can be in solitude in the middle of the market place. But isolation is a place of loneliness and despair. It is the place of self-deception where our egos keep us company, stoked by the one who comes as a Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Be still before the Lord; wait for him…I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and I hope for his word. (Psalms 37:7, Psalms 130:5)
I did, and it was there in solitude that Jesus began to speak to my heart. Even now, I am overwhelmed to think of it. He was smiling at me the whole time—like the image above that my wife painted for me many years ago. I had, at the same time, begun the Novena of Abandonment that has touched so many of us. The words came alive. I could hear in my heart the voice of the Good Shepherd saying, “Really, I’m going to fix this. I’m going to heal this. You must trust me now… wait… trust… wait… I will act.”
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! (Psalms 27:14)
As the week continued, I put the reins on my compulsive personality and prayed and waited. And day by day, God gave me insights into myself, my marriage, my family, and my past that were like shards of light piercing a deep cavern. With each revelation of truth, I found myself being freed, as it were, from invisible chains.
Surely, I wait for the Lord; who bends down to me and hears my cry… (Psalms 40:2)
Indeed, several times, the Holy Spirit led me to renounce and bind what I perceived were certain spirits that had been afflicting me with anxiety, fear, insecurity, anger and so forth. With each pronunciation of the Name of Jesus, I could feel the weight lifting and God’s freedom beginning to fill my soul.
The day before Christmas Eve, I was assaulted one last time by the Wolf who was desperate to draw me away into isolation—away from my family and you, Christ’s flock. I went to Mass that morning, came back to the house where I was staying, and sat there saying, “Okay Lord. I will wait a little longer.” With that, God gave me one word: “Co-dependency.” I knew a bit of this behavioural/thought pattern that has afflicted many people. But as I read the description, I saw myself clearly… from the days of my youth! I saw how this played out in relationships, but above all, between my wife and I. Suddenly, decades of insecurity, fear, and frustration made sense. Jesus had revealed to me the root of my pain… it was time to be set free!
I wrote a letter to my wife, and the next night, the two of us spent Christmas Eve alone sitting on cardboard boxes eating Turkey TV dinners in the midst of our house-turned-upside-down from the last of the renovations and repairs. Not that we’d fallen out of love by any stretch. We were just raw and hurting… but now beginning to grow in a healthier love.
EXPECT TO SEE THE POWER OF JESUS
At the same time that all of this was happening, I sensed Jesus speak a word for you. It is that He wants you in the coming year to know His power. Not just to know Him—but to know His power. In a sense, the Lord has stood back from this generation and allowed us to reap what we have sown. He has “lifted the restrainer” that has opened the door to lawlessness in our times, a “diabolical disorientation” that is afflicting even Christians. This “chastisement” is meant to bring each of us into the reality of who we are as individuals and as nations without God. As I look at the world today, I hear the words again:
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)
I see more and more how those words may come true—unless we sincerely abandon ourselves to God once again (which really means to fall into His arms, into the Divine Will). I believe Jesus wants to reveal His power to us through three main vessels: faith, hope, and love.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
I’ll explain this in the days ahead.
Jesus is ALIVE. He is not dead. And He is going to reveal to the world His power…
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