Do you ever unintentionally speak prophetically to yourself? Do words come out of your mouth—or even pass through your mind—that as soon as they do, you realize there is another meaning from what you intended, it applies to you, and it is from God? It is a startling experience. I recorded one instance of it a few years ago. It happened again last night.
We are currently parents to two teenagers. That is enough to drive us to our knees before God to ask for protection from themselves, others, and the errors of our own youth. We marvel both at their abilities and their apathies. On occasion we deal with outright rebellion.
Moving does nothing to improve my opinion of my children. When the furniture moves out, the residue of poor decisions remains near the baseboards—candy wrappers and stray bits of toys, pencils, papers, and hair. Aged lies are brought into the light of truth as things once declared lost are found and others are declared lost.
As we were discussing some of these issues one night before Evening Prayer, my thoughts said, “I feel like I can’t trust you or anything you say. It seems like every day I find another lie that you have told me.” I had the restraint to keep that internal, but no sooner had the words formed in my head than the Holy Spirit prompted me with this word from the Lord: “That pretty well sums up how I feel about you.”
Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the deceits and desires of our own hearts. That was the only way to respond, and thankfully, it is at the beginning of the Daily Office.
The Desert Fathers consistently taught that we should refrain from judging others and should instead, judge ourselves.
He [Abba Matoes] also said, “The nearer a man draws to God, the more he sees himself a sinner. It was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself ‘a man of unclean lips’” (Isaiah 6:5)¹
They did not originate this teaching, but followed the teaching of Christ.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:37-42 (ESV)
¹ Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: the Alphabetical Collection. Cistercian Publications: Trappist, KY. 1975. p. 143.