‘He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deep darkness into light’ Job 12:22 NASB
I’ve been wrestling with the concept of the “inward path to God” in my quest to become closer to and more intimate with God. I found it raises more questions than answers. How do we find what is supposedly already there? Why isn’t it obvious? How do we do it? Should we need to awaken our deepest and most profound selves – the image of Christ created in us?
Some suggest that by praying and meditating we are moving in the right direction. Other have indicated silence, solitude and sacraments. Yes, to all of the above elements, but I am slowly discovering that the most important way is to live and fully accept our reality.
The journey begins with Jesus invitation to follow Him. But what does that look like? A journey to the core is discovering a new reality. This act is a symbol of a deeper reality – the presence of God in us.
And that reality for me is that we do not find our own centre, it finds us. I have to admit that my own mind is unable to figure this out. We collapse back into the Truth only when we experience and live continually in the freedom of Christ – which for me is probably not as often as I would like.
For some reason it’s easier to focus or participate in something we connect with, like a church service than “practicing the presence of God” alone, as many have called it.
It is about making a commitment and then being prepared to begin again and again. Many times, living this reality will not feel all that spiritual for us, it feels like we are more on the edge rather than dealing with the essence. We tend to look for something in the dramatic instead of bearing the great mystery of God. But the edges of our lives – our different emotions – suffering, brokenness, joyful – lead us back to the centre and the essence.
Regardless of our current situation, in each case, the edges that we call reality have suffered, been broken and partially self-destructed. Then when we turn inwards, we see that the conflicts experienced at the edge were both probably unnecessary and even more likely a part of the problem.
Only then do we let go of the boundaries and edges surrounding our soul. No wonder when I have read about the saints and the mystics, I so often discover the use of unpopular words of today, like “surrender” and “suffering.” They understood this inner reality personally. Jesus articulated it for us when He wrote ‘unless a grain of wheat dies, it remains just a grain of wheat’ (John12:24).
For me there had to be a new way of living. It begins with our thinking. I had to dismantle my thoughts and ideas and take a different journey around and through my realities – known and unknown. In doing this it has led me to the dwelling place where I have discovered my truest self while at the same time discovered my truest God. We do not know what it means to be human unless we know God. And, in turn, we do not really know God except through our own broken and joyful humanity. Confused? I was when I first sought understanding of what was revealed. It has taken much time of connecting the human nature of man with the divine nature of God in my journey.
It is only through Christ that we get a glimpse of God and we discover we are children of God through His Son, the one God sent to earth in human form to die for us. It is through experiencing the transformative patterns of death on a cross and rebirth at the resurrection that we understand the transforming power of God in our lives. For many it is after the fact, not an instant experience where our life was ‘flipped on its head’ and we were totally transformed.
We are slow learners and that may be why many discover significant revelations after many years along their spiritual journey. This is a life-time journey that takes us from the edges to the core of our being.
As I reflect, I’m reminded that the crucifixion of Jesus, that terrible and awful way to die. This was the worst thing that happened in human history and yet God made the best out of it to take away all our excuses. The great unfailing love of God, His mercy and grace surprises us because we come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong.