Last time I concluded with a promise to share some of the human factors involved for us to live more deeply in Jesus. I propose these neither as some sort of sure-fire formula or a bullet-point list in the order of importance. They’re just some of my own observations and aspirations about how to have a deeper walk with God.
I begin with a profound Thomas Merton quote:
“Contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return. On the contrary, contemplation is being carried away by Him into His own realism, His own mystery and His own freedom. It is a pure and a virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its very poverty and purity, to follow the Word “wherever He may go.”
“Knowing by faith that He is present to you and realizing the utter hopelessness of trying to think intelligibly about this immense reality and all that it can mean, you relax in a simple contemplative gaze that keeps your attention peacefully aware of Him hidden somewhere in this deep cloud into which you also feel yourself drawn to enter.”Thomas Merton
In Part 1 “He’s Not Here” we looked at how easy it is to forget what Jesus says, especially when we didn’t hear or want to hear it in the first place.
In Part 2 “Who Is That Masked Man?” we reviewed the conversation two men had with Jesus, bemoaning how Jesus was nowhere to be found, and how the first prerequisite for deeper revelation is that we actually want
In Part 3 “Half Seeing” we talked about the inadequacy of a one-touch salvation our need to have our eyes opened wider so that we can see clearer.
Someone asked me what prompted me to write about this theme. If I’m honest, in some ways I’m sad about the glib expression of faith that I perceive in many of my contemporaries. Though I fear having judgmental spirit towards anyone, what I fear more are the consequences of a shallow spirituality going unchecked. We have so much more to get and so much more to give to emerging generations.
The Psalmist prayed: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71) Many of us are positioned to declare his power, when all we have are old testimonies of the good old days. We have the opportunity to invite someone younger to climb onto our shoulders so they can see further than we can and do more for Jesus than we could ever do. They deserve to inherit a deeper faith from us, yet many of us suffer from a “hardening of our categories,” and can’t seem to learn anything new or experience God in fresh ways. Continue reading →
I’ve always been weak on waiting, not just waiting on God, but waiting on––or for––just about anyone or anything. If there’s such a thing as a “gift of waiting” I either didn’t get that one or I did but I buried it somewhere along the line so as not to have to use it.
My friend, Stuart must’ve sensed this when he gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s book, The Seeds of Contemplation. I’m now a Merton fan. He was a pretty smart guy, but more, a guy who spent a lot of time waiting on God. That’s sort of the job description of a Trappist monk I think. They’re professional waiters (so to speak).
Anyway, on a prayer retreat last month I read the book while listening to 1970s Jesus albums (yes, the vinyl kind) that my host left in the garage of his house. The two seemed to go together somehow. Continue reading →
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.1 Peter 2:13-17
I was talking to a friend today about the President and I started to use a derogatory word to describe what I think of his relative suitability for the job. The word begins with “i” and rhymes with “literate” but means pretty much the opposite. It’s not a “bad word” nor does it belong in the category of swearing, but the Spirit checked me on it and I remembered that Jesus told us not to label people with insulting words.
There are good reasons for this, but it’s not always easy to find something to compliment about some people. I’m still in hunt for a complimentary way to refer to our President. If I really apply myself, four years should be sufficient to find one. Continue reading →