April 14th, 2014
by admin · Filed Under: Faith · Guidance · Inspiration · Prayer · Spiritual Health · healing · life
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
In this article we’ll consider this last instruction: “Where there is despair, hope.” So where there is despair, let me become and instrument of hope.
Have you ever felt despair? Many of us have, most of us probably have felt despair at one time or another, at different levels of course. There are different levels of despair.
In 2005, Kathryn and I flew to California for a few days to attend a family reunion in honor of the sixtieth wedding anniversary of Kathryn’s sister, Laurie, and her husband, Art. The family was gathering in a place called Twenty-Nine Palms, which is in a desert area about 60 miles or so from Palm Springs, where we had landed.
It was dark and it was pouring rain, which it generally never does. But it was, and not only rain but hailstones. We rented a car, and I asked the guy at the rental place which way to go and he said, “Oh, you just go down here, and down there,” and so on.
So, we set off. The directions had been a little skimpy, so when I saw a taxi stopped by the side of the road I stopped to check with the cab driver if we were going in the right direction. “Oh, no,” he said, “it’s the other way.” So I went back the other way and I just knew I was going the wrong way, so eventually I stopped again at a gas station and the man said, “No, you need to go back the way you were going before and you’ll go right over the freeway. Stay on that road and that’s highway 62, which will take you all the way to Twenty-Nine Palms. It goes through Marengo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twenty-Nine Palms.
So, off we go. It was dark and raining really hard. The roads were washed out with all the rain, grit and pebbles and little boulders were washing from the desert across the road and whenever there was a dip in the road there was flooded water. We came to a crossroads and opposite us, where we were supposed to go, there was a barrier with a sign that said “Road Closed.” There were no signs about any detour or anything like that. So I said, “OK, God, now you’re in charge. Which way do we go?”
I had an intuitive feeling to go right and a little farther down there was another crossroads and there was a man stopped, helping another man in a car. I stopped and asked him, “How’s the best way to get back on route 62 to go to Twenty Nine Palms?” He said, “Well, let’s see. If you go down here and you turn left and then right, then straight, then left again and right, you should be back on that road.”
I followed his directions, going through all the washed out areas and we got back on the road. But there were still a lot of washed out roads all the way and it was dark and still raining. Every so often we were getting a sense of despair that we’d ever get there because what was normally an hour’s ride turned out to be a couple of hours.
When we arrived there we were staying in a place called The Twenty Nine Palms Inn. It’s a very rustic place with some small adobe cottages. It was late by the time we got there, but the lady in the office pointed to a little map and said, “Oh, you just go over there and that’s where it is.” We finally got to bed about 11 pm California time, which was 2 o’clock in the morning our time.
But when we woke up in the morning it was bright and sunny and the sun was hitting the beautiful mountains around us, and we had a wonderful three days with family.
I wanted to share that experience with you because that’s one level of despair, anxiety. From there it goes in different levels from anxiety to despair, and sometimes into depression. So that was one experience. But let’s look at another level now.
Another, much deeper, experience I had was when I first went to ministerial school, or seminary, in 1969. My first wife and I had been going through some troubled times and when I got into ministerial school it seemed like everything was even more problematic. I was getting focused on my ministerial school and my studies, and my wife wanted to go back to England. Finally she took our four children and went back to England and that culminated in our divorce.
Just a month before that, my dad had died in England and I hadn’t heard right away. After three or four weeks I got a letter from my mother. I had a feeling it was something special when I picked it up in the morning from the mail box in the student lounge, so I waited until break time and then I went outside to read it. It was about my dad, and my mother asked why I hadn’t responded to the telegram. Strangely, I had never received the telegram.
So there was that, and just after that my wife left with the children and we were divorced, and I thought, “What is happening here? Here I am devoting my life to God’s work and everything is falling apart, everything is in chaos.”
At that time there were beautiful orchards around Unity Village, and I walked up in the orchards where it was quiet and I shouted and screamed and yelled at God. Why was this happening? I had thought that when I devoted myself to God everything would come together and it would be wonderful. But it was falling apart, it was chaos. So I yelled and screamed at God that evening, in the dark, in the orchard.
Then I came back to where I was living, in a little room at what was known as The Annex. The men were on the lower floor and the women were on the upper floor. Prior to that, my family and I had been living in a cottage on the grounds but then I’d been able to move to this tiny room, like a cell, in the Annex. Later on I got a larger room on the ground floor there at the Annex.
Some time before I had purchased a 1959 Cadillac, with the big wings and big tail-lights on the back, from an outgoing student. Every time I pulled into the parking lot the big tail-lights would come on. My fellow ministerial student, Kathryn, and her daughter, Celeste, had a room overlooking the parking lot, and the lights would light up their room.
When I came back from the orchard I got in my car, and Kathryn knew I was either coming or going when the lights came on. She looked out of the window and called out to me, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to see Sig Paulson, to talk to him; I’ve got to talk to somebody.” She said, “It’s ten o’clock, you can’t go and wake up Sig Paulson.” He was a long-time Unity minister, very well-known in the movement. She said, “You can’t go there at this time of night. Come on up and I’ll talk to you.”
So I went up and we talked a while, then she said, “Look, just hold on and everything will work out for you. You know where your source of good is, so remember to look to that.” So she gave me a little talking to and I felt a little better.
(To be continued in Part 2 of An Instrument of Hope)
Know that God is Blessing You, Right Now!
Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham
Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com
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