Reflections from Session VI

Continually updated, this page will serve as a place to find testimony and reflections of Grace Institute participants.

"Our youngest son, almost three years old, has greeted us nearly every morning for the last six months with the words “I hungry.” His other favorite phrase, new within the last few weeks is “I no know what to do.” My husband and I have been alternately amused and annoyed by these daily expressions of our son’s need.

This morning it dawned on me that my son’s words could very well be my own. I, too, am hungry and don’t know what to do. I’m hungry for God, hungry to know God in a way that is real, hungry to experience God’s love and faithfulness as undeniably certain and true. But more often than not I feel as though I don’t know what to do to satisfy this hunger. I don’t know what to do to hear God’s voice above the voices of anger, doubt, and fear. I don’t know what to do to draw closer to one that I cannot see or touch. I don’t know what to do to live the abundant life God has promised and for which I so desperately yearn.

Nearly two years ago, this hunger drove me to participate in Grace Institute for Spiritual Formation sponsored by Luther College. It has been a transforming experience. I’m still hungry, but I’ve come to understand that my hunger is God’s gift to me. When I first started at Grace, feeling completely disconnected from God, I learned that my desire for God—my desire for something more in my life—was itself God at work in me. I learned that my doubts and questions are God given, to be celebrated not denied.

I learned that I don’t have to know what to do, because God will make it known to me through the laughter of my children, the words of my friends, and the sought out silence through which God so often speaks.

The words of an old hymn, based on Psalm 42, so frequently come to mind. I sang these words for the first time as a student at Luther, some months after my younger brother had died.

As pants the hart for cooling streams when heated in the chase,
So longs my soul, O God, for you and your refreshing grace.
One trouble calls another on and gathers overhead,
Falls splashing down, till round my soul a rising sea is spread.
Why restless, why cast down, my soul? Hope still, and you shall sing
The praise of him who is your God, your health’s eternal spring.

In the midst of that desperate time, when I felt as though my relationship with God had been destroyed by grief, God heard my daily expressions of need. “I’m hungry and I don’t know what to do.” God was not amused or annoyed; God was faithful. God held me through that community of faith at Luther. They hoped for me when I couldn’t hope for myself, and eventually I did sing God’s praises again.

Are troubles spreading like a rising sea around you? Do you yearn for something more? Are you not even sure what you need or desire, but only know that something is missing?

May your hunger be satisfied by God’s refreshing grace."
      - Stacey Nalean Carlson