There is such a conflict in me at times between my carefully constructed plans, and trusting the Spirit to do (His) work.

As a former high school teacher I know how disastrous a class could be if I just decided to “wing it.” The success of many classes was at least in part due to diligent preparation on my part.

There were also times when my lesson plan was blown in the first two minutes and I had to relay on my wits, my knowledge of the subject, my passion for learning, and my ability to "trust the process.” (Which is just another way of saying trusting the Holy Spirit), trusting the Holy Spirit to guide, teach, and to rest in the assurance that “all is and all will be well.”

I still don’t know where to go with all that. (or maybe I do know and it scares the beJesus out of me!).

A few years ago I was conducting three to five retreats a year. Those workshops attracted quite a few people in addictions recovery, but were not limited to that segment of the population. Anyone who we seeking to enhance their spirituality was welcome and each retreat consisted of about fifty to eighty participants.


I used to spend weeks in preparation. Every retreat was different so I did not depend on last month’s notes to carry me through. After sifting through books, notes, quotes, anecdotes, fables and true stories,  and some previous material I would wind up with over 50 single spaced pages of notes.



Just reading those notes out loud would have covered a couple of weekends!

I would enter this retreat space with a sense of reverence and love for all those I would meet. I knew that whatever I spoke about was something I needed to learn. I would quietly pray for guidance in a very simple way, “Lord let all of us say what we need to say, and hear what we need to hear.”

I would inevitably discover, to my joy and my dismay, that my notes would be relatively useless after the first paragraph. I would always be amazed at the end of the weekend that my 50 pages of notes were pushed aside someplace and a few scribbled index cards had taken their place.

That process did not happen just once. It happened over and over again: the gathering of notes and information, the prayer, the irrelevancy of the notes, and the inevitable positive outcome.

Still today, before a class, before a sermon, before any sort of public presentation I am at it again: books; references; notes; quotes; polishing and refining.

I feel it would be disrespectful and irresponsible not to put in the prep time.

So where does that leave me. What do I embrace as most important, my work or the work of the Spirit in me?

Is it simply that I do not trust the Spirit to speak or act through me?

Do I need all this preparation to just sort of “clean me out” so the Spirit can move in?

I don’t know (or maybe I do know and do not want to see).