The Big Question We Never Ask


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Over the last few weeks I have spent a lot of time asking myself What would my life look like if I gave myself totally to God? This is probably the scariest question I have ever asked, because the short answer is – very different from what it looks like now.

 Perhaps I have been reading too much about monks lately. I am really challenged not just by the rhythm of life the desert Fathers and Mothers, Celtic monks and Trappist monks today live by, but by the passion and discipline with which they adhered to their commitment. And I crave the deep intimacy so many of them seem to experience.

This is in fact the question that one of the Trappist monks in August Turak’s book Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks asks. It was the question that led him to become a monk. There is something terribly wrong with spirituality today, he says:

It is as though the materialism that has a death grip on this culture has taken our spirituality as well. Most of what’s called spiritual is actually humanistic if you think about it. People don’t want the adventure of God on his own terms or for his own sake. They want a better world, a happier life, better relationships and all the trimmings that go along with it….. We’re urged to seek God because this human good will come of it. People don’t realize “because” implies that the end is the human good and Truth (God) merely the means” (19)

So this morning again I ask myself What would it look like to seek God only for Godself, to shape my life around the craving for intimacy with God? And how willing amy I to shape my life around that quest? 

So here is where I am at.

First I know that prayer and deepening my relationship to God should take priority over everything else. Sometimes I feel I do well at this and other times work and the busy distractions of my mind overtake me. I need to establish a rhythm of prayer through the day and develop the discipline to stick with it. If I truly placed God at the centre I would make sure that I am never too busy to pray and never be too tired to listen.

Second I know that relationships – to God and to others should take priority over work. Our intern Amanda grappled with this over the summer. In her blog post on her time with us she comments: after a time of checking in and working we would come together to have lunch. I loved that there wasn’t any thought to delay lunch or to work through lunch, but rather, it was a priority to take this time to come together and replenish. Her words are an important reminder to me of this priority. I work to live, not live to work.

Third I need to take time for myself, to make space for the exercises that replenish my spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep are all important priorities. Jesus’ admonish in Matthew 11: 28-30 is a constant reminder to me of the balanced and I think relaxed rhythm God intends for us.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

When I get stressed out and overextended I frequently need to remind myself of this. Committing myself fully to God means recognizing my need to organize my time and my habits so that I am constantly receptive to God’s voice.

Fourth I need to take time for God’s creation. Gardening is part of the rhythm of my life. I also love to walk in the midst of God’s creation, and in the mornings I sometimes sit just soaking in the beauty of the mountains I can see out my office window.  But when I get too busy this time gets swept aside.

 

Fifth, the use of my resources would be totally in God’s control. I would give generously, joyously and enthusiastically whenever God prompted me. I would be more concerned for the needs of others than for my own wants and demands.

Most of us spend our lives striving for success rather than striving for God. Our passion for significance in the eyes of the world often far outstrips our passion for closeness to God. We consume spiritual tools in the same way we consume food, clothes and electronic gadgets.

So what would it look like for you to give yourself totally to God? I challenge you to take some time this week to reflect on this question. Let me know how God prompts you to change the rhythm of your life, the use of your resources

 

9 Responses

  1. Very well thought out Christine. It must be the change of season.. I go thru this thought provoking need for purge this time of year, but for some reason.. this year is much more sigificant. We must be on a similar track.. God is funny that way.. Every where I turn I hear and see His message to write write write!! And I just can never find it.. the words are there..in my head.. by the time I finish chores.. they are hidden once more.. or I’m too tired. I have always kept up a repore w our Father.. some people think I talk to myself.. it’s funny– it just comes naturally.. always has.. I yell at him, I laugh at him, I compliment him, I thank him, I question him.. I chatter… I listen for him.. Sometimes, his words come in the visual sense and I know he’s there..
    He warns me, he nudges me (a lot).. he thumps me.. he hugs. But I tend to get caught up in this turmoil…And my world becomes a mess. So NOW my BIGGEST challenge is minimalizing my world. And I’m a PackRat!! If I can just get back to THAT.. I can unclutter my mind while I unclutter my world. NOT an easy task.. I KNOW he see’s me when I can’t throw something out and tuck it away.. yeah.. trying to be sneaky around God.. I think he snickers.
    I join you Christine, in that journey to get closer to God.. Cleanliness IS next to Godliness… I just need to plow through this mount of material and emotional clutter to make it to the Path with you!

  2. Thanks – In In Search of Sacred Places Daniel Taylor says “Simplicity is no great virtue unless wedded to right priorities. A desirable simplicity entails the recognition of what is important in life, coupled with the strength of will to structure one’s daily existence around that recognition. He goes on to talk about the need to unclutter ourselves of things, unclutter our calendars and unclutter our minds. And finishes with: Simplicity is the product of conscious. life-structuring choices. – great words of wisdom that form the centre of much of what I am thinking about.

  3. Thanks, Christine. I find that what you speak of is in fact a learning that emerges through life alone. I dislike the way my youthful enthusiasm and excitement in finding Christ carried with it the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ that were the unseen, though larger part, of the iceberg of evangelical Christianity that provided my portal into Narnia.

    Whilst I was initially amazingly successful within that evangelical, charismatic construct initially, I very slowly came to realise that in fact it was consuming me – my time, my energy, my resource and my imagination. The opportunity to step out and back that the unanticipated sickness of my lovely wife, Katey, provided, in fact enabled me to begin to search for the God who might lay behind the superficial survival faith I had embraced and also preached and taught to many others as both evangelist and church pastor.

    Suffice to say the journey was challenging, not least because God was interested in my wasting time with him whilst I was constructed through education, cultural context and Christian church experience within England, to work out my faith, yet without either fear or trembling. I was over familiar in my approach to God, without realising God was in fact a stranger to me – whilst unbeknown to me, II was fully known by God and that was enough as far as God was concerned. Step one, learning to rest content solely in being a sinner loved by God.

    So what a journey began, one that required years of unlearning and personal deconstruction, mostly in the private space, all against the painful background of accompanying Katey in her walk with progressive multiple sclerosis until her death in 2008. In this time, usually fighting, often angry and always making judgments, I also discovered what it means to be still and to know my creator.

    This story continues – utilising the liturgy of the hours daily as a core rhythm of waiting on God – whilst learning to paddle in the shallows of the contemplative life. I now long to learn to swim and recgnise that God carries me out of my depth – always and only to be found in the depths of his love. For me to live is indeed Christ yet I cannot yet say my heart does not hanker after conformation to the world I knew and have significantly left rather than transformation to live in God’s world, God’s way enjoying the God-filled life.

    The journey continues – the story unfolds – the narrative is crafted.

    • Thanks Micha. I appreciate your comments & in fact decided to post them as a separate post so that they don’t get lost in the midst of the comments here. Many blessings – so appreciate all you do in the Contemplative network

  4. Thank you so much for reminding us of this question. I feel like (after a day of absorbing messages from the world) I need a regular check in with these prompts.

  5. […] the Contemplative network and St Cuthbert’s Oratory wrote this response to my post yesterday The Big Question We Never Ask. I didn’t want it to get lost in the comments and decided to repost it here. Micha is a long […]

  6. I have been learning that God has not required that I lost myself – which he created in yearning to change….but mostly to slow down so I can see each subtle change that comes from following him.

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