Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It feels like yesterday since I last shared my devotional reading with you. But as a matter of fact, it has been many weeks…The traveling and ministry aboard were tiring but meaningful. I heard many testimonies about God’s faithfulness and calling in different people’s lives. It humbles us to see how lives changed through our interaction with one another and with God. I wished I had time to record all the sharing that told place in the last two months of my journey. I still have several overseas assignments before I return to my home based (North America) traveling schedule in October. Your prayer and support are greatly needed…
I did not have time to read The Other Side of Silence until this morning. On the road, I was reading a book on Spiritual Mentoring and lately one on Renovation of the Heart instead. It is good to return to this book and discover how different teachers of spirituality echo with each other on their views of spiritual growth or formation. I extracted part of Kelsey’s comments from chapter 12 for my own notes below:
There is a basic difference between those who see the universe as ultimately characterized by impersonal MIND and those who see it as principally LOVER…The idea of love between beings and God is based on the understanding that God is so deeply interested in the real physical world that He became incarnate in it, and that He is so deeply concerned about real human beings that He died for them. He wants us to become fellow coworkers with Him and so He makes His power available to us in the physical world. The individual who meets these realities in the inner self is constantly renewed, transformed and changed. There is suffering, but this is only part of the growing process and not the end of it. There seem to be no limits to the possible growth of the human psyche in its fellowship with God. One probability is that life in the hereafter is a continuation of the same growth process begun within the world of space and time.
At the same time there is another, almost equally important goal related to evil. While it is not popular these days to consider evil, particularly as a psyche, spiritual and metaphysical principle, not believing in it provides practically no insurance against its activity in our lives…Event the best of us need His help, not only against petty and self-seeking egotism, but in dealing with the Evil One or the very source of Evil.
The purpose of meditation must be understood in terms of God’s interest in this world and His desire to have us become free to relate to Him. He also offers to pay a ransom to help people become free from the destructive force that runs through all of reality. He offers this in the same way that the father offered his prodigal son acceptance and reconciliation in the story told by Jesus of Nazareth.
We find contact with God in the inner world, as well as finding contact with the power of Evil, and in both cases our way of learning about the contact and what it demands of us is through images…Mother Teresa of Avila described the prayer of quiet by saying that the will is lovingly fixed on God; the memory is occupied with His love too; the understanding is in darkness; the imagination romps and fools around wildly where it wishes. St. John of the Cross spoke plainly about the importance of disregarding images from within: For God begins to communicate Himself to our soul, no longer through senses, as He did aforetime, by means of reflections which joined and sundered its knowledge, but by pure spirit, into which consecutive reflections enter not, but He communicates Himself to it by an act of simple contemplation, to which neither the exterior nor the interior senses of the lower part of the soul can attain. From this time forward, therefore, imagination and fancy can find no support, in any mediation, and can gain no foothold by means thereof.” In spite of this thinking, St. John of the Cross continued to listen to his inner promptings all through his life, and his superb religious poetry contains some of the most sensual imagery.
What people experience as religious content depends largely on two factors: It is determined first by people’s psychological development, and second by their understanding of the structure of the world, or their world view, and the kind of experience it allows them to be open to. Our worldview is like a filter or lenses through which we see and interpret meaning of our circumstances. For example, why does God allow us to live through the kind of experiences we encounter today?
Lately, I have been praying for many of our cancer patients. We troubled by hearing these beloved ones of our going through this kind of illness. We always hoped to offer them some edifying words of comfort or explanation about their suffering. At the end, we ran into nothing but helplessness and silence. Our mind was blank and speechless. We stared into eternity with only one assurance: The God of eternity will not forsake us even though our senses do not conceive any signs and messages from above. At this stage of lives, our devotion and meditation seem to enter into another mode that is beyond human comprehension. This is what St. John of the Cross described as “the darkness of the soul.” Nevertheless, this darkness is not necessarily negative or bad. It is a waiting in uncertainty, which is part of His design for us to walk with an unfathomable God, and to understand His incomprehensible love for mankind.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God…. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Share this love with you in Christ,
PS. I will depart for Vancouver, Canada tomorrow.