Monday, February 19, 2007

Mentoring that Lasts

Few things have had a more profound influence on my spiritual development than my mentor. Yet, I have never spoken to Catherine in person. I did exchange a few letters with her husband a few years ago to tell him how she had nurtured my faith. He encouraged me to follow her footsteps and become an intercessor.

She taught me how to exercise faith in many situations, how to dream, and how to pray. She shared many of the lessons she learned as she traveled her faith journey. During her unique pilgrimage, she encountered the challenges of fragile health and early widowhood. She shared with me the resources that sustained her, and helped me learn not to accept easy answers. She encouraged me to keep searching until I resolved the tough issues and to learn that I could and must at times live with contradiction.

Catherine taught me that God is there, even when disappointment and unanswered prayer shout otherwise. She shared the pain of losing her precious grandchild, her namesake who lived only six weeks before following her older brother to Heaven. Like the Psalmist, Catherine bravely explored the depths of emotion this experience brought her. I learned from her that God can handle our emotions even when we feel we cannot.

This gentle mentor showed me how praise can transform our lives. It releases God's power in our lives in a way that ignites tremendous creative energy. I learned the joy of a grateful heart.

From Catherine's wisdom, I learned the power of forgiveness. She took me beyond God's forgiveness of me to see how important it was that I learn to forgive others. Eventually in my own intimate relationships I realized what a wonderful gift she had given me.

The mentoring my beloved teacher provided on the difficult subject of obedience has been crucial in the development of my own prayer life. Her vast knowledge of the Scriptures, on this topic as well as on many others validated her teaching.

As a young adult, I naively believed that evil was some kind of nebulous influence in our world. However, my mentor, Catherine, convinced me that we are living in a battleground where real forces for good and evil strive to control our lives. She helped me understnad the enemy of our souls likes nothing better than to lull us into thinking that he is harmless, and not a threat to our faith. She awoke me to the reality of spiritual warfare.

A complex issue that Catherine never allowed me to avoid grappling with was the question of healing. Together we looked at the reality that sometimes God grants physical healing and sometimes He does not. Her own experience and intensive study of Scripture furnished benchmarks for my own explorations. What I learned from her, I had to apply when four years ago my son became a quadriplegic in a car accident. People around the world have prayed for him, yet still he remains paralyzed. Catherine's mentoring has helped me hold on to faith when I cannot understand God's silence.

Following the pattern of the Lord Jesus, whom she loved so much, Catherine made sure that I understood that I would have a mentor, even after she was gone. She pointed me to her own mentor, the one Jesus promised. As Catherine did, I discovered that I could have the Holy Spirit as my teacher. As through the years my faith has grown and stretched, I have been aware of His gentle prodding and the lessons He is teaching me. Although I missed Catherine when she died, I knew that she had prepared me to keep learning from Someone even wiser that she was.

My mentor, Catherine was a dreamer and a dream catcher. She taught me to value the dreams that God plants in my heart. She encouraged me to nurture my dream of being a writer. Her encouragement has kept me going as I have seen article after article appearing in print. It has kept the dream going through the discouragement of rejections. Her example has helped me encourage others to pursue their dreams as well, especially potential writers.

I look forward to the day when at last my mentor and I will be able to talk together about all the dreams we have seen fulfilled. I can't wait to tell her in person how much she has meant to me. One day, I will meet my mentor, the author Catherine Marshall, in heaven. Until then, I will continue to put into practice what she taught me and mentor those who follow.

1 comment:

N. J. Lindquist said...

Great ending. I never had a "physical" mentor but I learned quite a lot from her and other authors, too.

N. J.

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