"The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy."
Psalm 19: 7, 8, The Message
Gaining an Understanding of Myself
Day 5: Understanding Myself Spiritually (Part II)
"Christian spirituality does not begin with us talking about our experience, it begins with listening to God call us, heal us, forgive us."
Eugene H. Peterson
Have I opened my heart to the daily presence of God in my life?
"One must be great-souled indeed to make room for God."
"Dear Lord, I open my heart to Your coming. Come close to me, Lord, and let me yield my whole being to You. Teach me to know myself and to fill my empty being with the radiant life of Your love, that I may become a fountain of blessing to quench my own thirsts and to offer love to meet the thirsts of my companions on this journey to You."
Yesterday we began a two-part study about Understanding Ourselves Spiritually.
As I shared with you. I have been blessed to have the support and love of many women in my life who were deeply spiritual individuals. As I observed, what impressed me most about these ladies is that they didn't live their lives on two different levels - the secular and the spiritual. Instead, their spiritual lives infused everything they are and do with the fragrance of time spent with Jesus.
In reviewing the lives of the women I've known personally who have found the secret of internal "sacred space," I noted there were specific characteristics which were common in their lives.
Much to my surprise and interest, as I studied about the importance of a deeper understanding of God's desire for the growth of my spiritual life, I found that pastor and preacher, A.W. Tozer, who wrote voluminous amounts on the topic of deepening the "spiritual" in our lives, also identified some of the same characteristics I found prevalent in women who radiate the indwelling of God's presence.
I'd like to share these characteristics or traits with you. Women who are cultivating the spiritual (and men, too!) will be found to:
1.) Have a longing for holiness rather than happiness. This isn't to say Christians aren't or can't be happy. What it means is that when there are situations that try us to the limit, we trust God is working on our behalf even when joy, at that moment, is difficult. I think of Joseph, who was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and thrown into an Egyptian prison miles away from his earthly father and from all outward appearances, seemingly abandoned by his Heavenly Father, too. I don't know about you, but happiness in a situation like that wouldn't be the first emotion I'd think of. Yet Joseph's trust that God was at work in his life, even in the absence of any visible sign, reveals that his desire for living a holy life took priority over his desire to live a happy, comfortable life.
2.) Have a longing to see God's purpose advanced even if it means we must personally "suffer temporary dishonor or loss." Don't Joseph's many years of suffering falsely for something he never did fit this scenario perfectly? And in the end, Joseph's patience and faithfulness brought glory to the name of God.
3.) Have a longing to see others "advance" rather than themselves. Here again, Joseph used his God-given abilities in prison to lift up his Heavenly Father even to the point of bringing hope to another prisoner who was later released and restored to his position in Pharaoh's court.
4.) Have a longing to see God's viewpoint and make our personal judgments based on eternity not on our earthly view of time. When the spiritual is our priority, God's eternal timeline becomes more important than my earthly wants and needs, those things that I desire to happen in my world of "NOW!"
A. W. Tozer who identified so clearly these characteristics that are present in individuals seeking a spiritual life and who was a man who wrote and preached with such passion on the need for creating internal "sacred spaces," when he died, was identified as A.W. Tozer --- Man of God. A simple statement that to this day conveys to everyone that the presence of God was at the core of his being.
I think of my dear mother-in-law, a Cuban immigrant whom I introduced to you yesterday. She never preached a sermon. She never led a Bible Study group. She just lived a Godly life. And that life said more about God than anything else she could ever have done. She didn't have any money to build a "sacred space" in her home, for she and "Papa" could not afford to purchase a house of their own. Instead, every room in her house became sacred for when she walked into the room, she carried God's presence with her in the inner "sacred space" of her heart. May you and I understand that our growth spiritually comes about when we open our hearts and minds to the continual indwelling of our Father in Heaven.
"We ought to rejoice greatly that God dwells in our soul, and much more greatly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God…It is a great insight to see and know within ourselves that God, who is our maker, dwells within us; and an even greater insight to see and know within ourselves that our created soul dwells in God."
Julian of Norwich
A Revelation of Love
Today I want to share with you two affirmations and I believe these uplifting words have more meaning to us by taking a look, biographically, at the men who penned them.
Affirmation #1 by Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
In his young life, Anselm experienced a huge rift with his father who wanted him to work in the affairs of state and politics. Instead, Anselm chose a monastic life in France at the Benedictine Monastery at Bec, Normandy. He became such a renowned theologian he was invited three times to come to England where he impressed the clergy so much he was eventually appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although he was highly trained and educated, he was well aware of the limitations of knowledge as seen in these words he wrote: "God often works more by the illiterate seeking the things that are God's than by the learned seeking the things that are their own." Here is the prayer that I want to share which he wrote:
For A Greater Desire of God
"O Lord our God, grant us grace to
desire you with our whole heart, that so
desiring we may seek and find you,
and so finding you, may love you."
Affirmation #2 by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
As a young boy in school, Thomas was called a "dumb Sicilian ox" because of his physical size and silence in the classroom. However, he emerged to become a gifted theologian whose impact has lasted down through the centuries. Here is a special prayer he wrote:
For A Steadfast Heart
"Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart,
which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;
give me an unconquered heart,
which no tribulation can wear out;
give me an upright heart,
which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
Bestow on me also, O Lord my God,
understanding to know you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
and a faithfulness that may
finally embrace you."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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