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Aug 16, 2023 2126 Carol Osburn, USA
Encounter

Come to Me

When everything around you turn to chaos, have you ever asked, “What does God want?”

My life, like each of ours, is unique and irreplaceable. God is good, and I am thankful for my life, even with all the ups and downs. I was born to Catholic parents and baptized Catholic on the Feast of Christ the King. I attended a Catholic grammar school and one year of Catholic High School. I couldn’t wait to be confirmed and become a soldier for Christ. I remember telling Jesus I would never miss Mass. I married a Catholic man and raised our children Catholic. My faith, though, was in my head and hadn’t yet moved to my heart.

Tracing Back

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of Jesus as my friend. As a young, newly married woman, I remember missing Mass a few times because I thought I would enjoy doing whatever I wanted. I was so wrong. I thank my mother-in-law’s unwitting intervention: on one of those Sundays, she asked me how Mass was. I managed to ignore her question and change the subject, but God reached me through her question. The next Sunday, I went to Mass and resolved never to miss again.

Like many moms, I was busy with family life, volunteering at school, teaching religious education, working part-time, etc. Frankly, I did not know how to say “no” to anyone. I was exhausted. Yes, I was a good woman and tried to do good things, but I did not know Jesus very well. I knew He was my friend and received Him at Mass every week, but I realize now I was simply going through the motions.

When my kids were in junior high, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and experienced constant pain. I would come home from work and rest. The pain caused me to stop doing many things. One day a friend called to ask how I was. All I did was complain about myself and my pain. Then my friend asked me, “What does God want?” I became uncomfortable and began to cry. Then I got angry and quickly hung up. “What does God have to do with my pain,” I thought. My friend’s question haunted me. It was all I could think about.

Though to this day, I can’t remember who invited me to the women’s weekend, the minute I heard about a retreat at my parish called Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP), I immediately said, “Yes!” All I could think about was a weekend away from home, catching up on sleep, and having someone waiting on me. Again, I was so wrong. Practically every minute of the weekend was planned. Rest? I got some, but nothing like I had expected.

Notice the focus on “me, myself, and I.” Where was the Lord? Little did I know that my “yes” to this Spirit-filled weekend would open the door to my heart.

Overwhelming Presence

During one of the talks, I was moved to tears. I felt compelled to pause, and in my heart, say directly to God words that would change my life, words that I meant with all my heart, words that opened the door for Jesus to enter and began to move my knowledge of God from my head to my heart!

“Lord, I love you,” I said, “I am all yours. I will do whatever you ask of me, and I will go wherever you send me.”

My heart needed to expand so I could learn to love like God loves me. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

That conversation sparked a conversion, a metanoia, a turning of my heart toward God. I had experienced the unconditional love of God, and suddenly God became first and foremost in my life. It’s just so hard to describe, except that I will never forget it. I felt like God took my hand in the darkness and ran with me. I was on fire and happy and surprised at what the Lord was doing and continues to do in my life.

Shortly after my conversion and following a Life in the Spirit seminar, I was healed of my fibromyalgia. I looked at my life and asked the Lord to help me become more like Him. I realized that I needed to learn forgiveness, so I asked God to show me who I needed to forgive or to ask forgiveness from. He did, and little by little, I learned how to forgive and accept forgiveness. I experienced healing in one of my most important relationships – my relationship with my mom. I finally learned how to love her as God did. My family experienced healing, as well. I began to pray more. Prayer was exciting to me. Silence was where I met the Lord. In 2003 I felt God calling me to Kenya, and in 2004, I volunteered at a hospice orphanage for three months. Since CRHP, I had felt called to become a spiritual director and went on to be a certified spiritual director. There is so much more. There is always so much more when you come to know Jesus Christ.

Looking back at my life, I wouldn’t change a thing because it has made me who I am today. However, I do wonder what may have happened to me had I not said those life-changing words.

God loves you. God knows you completely —good and bad— but still loves you. God wants you to live in the light of His love. God wants you to be happy and bring all your burdens to him. “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

I encourage you to say this prayer from the depths of your heart: “Lord, I love you. I am all yours. I will do whatever you ask of me, and I will go wherever you send me.” I pray your life will never be the same and that no matter what is going on around you, you will find rest and peace because you walk with the Lord.

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Carol Osburn

Carol Osburn is a spiritual director and writer. Married for over 46 years, she and her husband live in Illinois. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

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