"The 'bright shoots of everlastingness' can become a steady light within, if we are deadly in earnest in our dedication to the Light, and are willing to pass out of the first stages into maturer religious living."
Quote from Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion.
This last year for me I have committed myself to enter the words from above...willing to pass out of the first stages into maturer religious living. I can't really explain or put into clear words the calling and promptings from God that were within me, and still are, in pursuing a deeper life with Him.
It has been 20 years in my journey with Christ since I quit running. 20 years since I asked Him to save me. 20 years since I told Him I would follow Him to the edges of the earth if He would forgive me. Each step with God has been fulfilling, none condemning, all bringing life and helping me find my way closer to Him. Some of those years in the last 20 have been easy, some beyond difficult, but each served God's purpose of refining my faith and calling me into closer communion with Him.
It has been 10 years or more that I have been a part of in depth Bible study, mostly Beth Moore, but some other names thrown in there too. These Bible studies opened up the world of scripture to me, opened up the days of Christ, the call of the disciples, the great commission after Jesus took that last stand in the sky and headed up to Heaven. It has been in the words of scripture that I have found anticipation for the day I am called Home, or the day that I see Jesus descend from the heavens.
There is always more to learn, each day the Living Word will reveal something we might have not noticed before. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit that brings God's gifts in the word into our hearts and minds. But within me there was a gnawing question, am I running on my power, the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control, are they growing, and are they more steady as the quote above says?
I felt as though rather than flying on wings of eagles I was running in circles. Scripture is full of God's promise that His power is in us, He transforms, He call us to Him. I felt a conviction that there was too much of me still in me, and I needed to be in deeper communion with God and allow Him full access to do the work.
Enter the practice of spiritual disciplines. I wanted to be intentional and keep on the front burner that my life was now at God's beck and call, I was here and I was listening. In order to make myself commit to do this I enrolled in Lipscomb's Institute of Christianity Growing Deeper Spirituality program. I knew that if I was required to do spiritual reading, report to a mentor, attend a couple of residencies, that I would pursue God in the midst of busyness. Had I not been accountable I would have let other more urgent but less important tasks to get in my way of pursuing a deeper communion with God. Status quo I had mastered, I wanted to step out farther into the deep Water of Life.
It is impossible for me to explain what this year has meant, I wish I had words. The moment I try and label what a blessing this last year has been it will become less than it was in my explanation. But what is easily spoken of is, this year has given me the regular practicing of God's presence within me. It has allowed me to find the importance and necessity to open up regular quiet times when it is only God and I.
Henri Nouwen writes in The Way of the Heart,.. it is in silence and solitude that transformation happens. I believed that statement the moment I read it, it made sense, if it is silence and solitude where God gets us just to Him, where our gaze is that of an adoring child, our heart is then softer and more still for Him to work within us. And isn't it also clear that it is the Evil One's greatest tool of busyness and noise in our lives that keeps the silence and solitude with God at bay, often times. The transformation is easy for us, we just have to show up. The difficult part is to take a stand within our own lives and require of ourselves to be quiet and lift our eyes to Him.
There is no magic in spiritual disciplines, they are the tools that God has given us to put on the brakes in our lives, to quiet the noise, and to sit in adoration of the Great and Loving God who created us in our mother's womb. Thanks be to God.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10