Contemplative Life

A Transforming Internship

When Bill asked me to write about my experience as an intern this summer, I felt overwhelmed. How could I begin to put into words the gift that was my ten weeks at Corhaven? I can’t.

However, I can tell you one thing and that is this: my internship at Corhaven transformed me. By God’s grace, and because of His goodness, He took a timid and scared disciple and turned her into an agent of the Kingdom. I can’t tell you exactly how it happened – in many ways, our own growth and transformation is a mystery – but I do know that it had a lot to do with the twin disciplines of silence and solitude.

When I arrived at Corhaven, Bill created space in my schedule for the spiritual disciplines, and as I incorporated these practices into my daily rhythm, I became more aware of God’s presence and accountable to His voice. Feeding the cows and pigs became a time for conversation with God. Writing a blog, an invitation to rely on His wisdom and words. Making beds or weeding the garden, watering the plants or meeting with retreatants – all were opportunities to meet God and be met by Him. As I began to live more in the stream of His love and to minister out of the overflow of His Spirit, I began to experience His peace. God was showing me that the path to joy and contentment was abiding, every moment, in Him.

But the experience of silence and solitude not only taught me about the importance of abiding. God also used these disciplines to get at the root of my sin. In silence, the Spirit exposed areas of my life and attitudes that were not of Christ, and over the course of those ten weeks, I began the long and hard road of learning how to die to myself. In many ways, this summer felt like a “training in righteousness” – learning to say “no” to things I thought were important as I listened to the Spirit’s promptings and surrendered to God’s will. Each day I was learning how to be a disciple – how to listen to His voice, follow where He leads, and let go of everything else.

But, perhaps most importantly, what I learned in silence is that I am loved by God. Of course, silence is not the only place to learn of God’s love. We can read about it in scripture, experience it in the context of worship and human relationships, and discover it in the ways that God faithfully and persistently provides for our every need. But it was in silence that I encountered this love in an entirely new way – in a direct and unmediated way – and the effect transformed me. For the first time in my life, I knew, without shadow of doubt, that I was a child of God in whom He delights. And the beautiful thing is that when you know who you are, and how much He loves you, there’s no stopping how God can use you.

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