Mystical Mondays: Clear Minds, Full Hearts


Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love.Eric Liddell, missionary & Olympic sprinter

From John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul, Book the Second, Chapter VIII:
Since this spiritual light is so simple, pure and general, not appropriated or restricted to any particular thing that can be understood, whether natural or Divine (since with respect to all these apprehensions the faculties of the soul are empty and annihilated), it follows that with great comprehensiveness and readiness the soul discerns and penetrates whatsoever thing presents itself to it, whether it come from above or from below; for which cause the Apostle said: That the spiritual man searches all things, even the deep things of God. For by this general and simple wisdom is understood that which the Holy Spirit says through the Wise Man, namely: That it reaches wheresoever it wills by reason of its purity; that is to say, because it is not restricted to any particular object of the intellect or affection.

And this is the characteristic of the spirit that is purged and annihilated with respect to all particular affections and objects of the understanding, that in this state wherein it has pleasure in nothing and understands nothing in particular, but dwells in its emptiness, darkness and obscurity, it is fully prepared to embrace everything to the end that those words of St. Paul may be fulfilled in it: Having nothing, yet possessing everything. For such poverty of spirit as this would deserve such happiness.

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. —St. Paul @ II Corinthians 6:10 (NLT)

My office looked as if it had been struck by a natural disaster of some sort, perhaps an 8.9 on the Richter scale or a level 5 hurricane. And I just couldn’t take it any more. I reached my breaking point when someone asked me to locate papers I had recently received and “filed.” Although I knew where they were on my desk, the clutter had eaten away at every clean space on the floor and both desks. Finding something so simple had never been so difficult (except maybe in my childhood closet).

The same is true for our hearts at times. We let the stuff of this world creep in and create such chaos and clutter that we may never dig ourselves out. Though we yearn to hear God’s still small voice, all we hear is the cacophony of “doing voices”—”do this” and “do that” and “don’t forget to do this.” Our lives evolve into a perpetual check list of never-ending tasks.

I strongly endeavor to avoid this burden and just be, but I meet people all the time who equate success with how much they are doing, amassing, compiling, etc. I believe one of the great lyricists of the 21st century, Switchfoot’s Jonathan Foreman, makes the brilliant observation (and rails against) that so many in the Western world ascribe to: “Success is equated with excess.” This is not the way God’s Kingdom works, yet we continue to try to make God conform to the world’s ways.

In essence, what we’ve done is crowd God out of the picture. A burning love for God is replaced with a busy church schedule. A passion to be the hands and feet of Jesus finds no room in our hearts as we tie our hands behind our backs with a mounting to-do list. We work hard to present a bountiful basket to the Lord when all he’s looking for are hands that are empty from serving.

We must move from a place where we attempt to “possess God” to a posture of allowing his Holy Spirit to inhabit us. Our souls enter a period of darkness because we have blocked any possible entry of light with clutter. We must remove those things that keep our hearts from connecting with God and our perspective must be radically changed. God is not looking for us to bring Him something; rather, he desires for us to take something from him—his love. For when we understand the essence of God’s love and allow its light to penetrate our hearts, the things of importance in this world fade away and our perspective is forever changed. What used to be important to us before we made room for God to pierce us in this manner becomes meaningless. The cacophony fades away; only his heart and his voice are what matters—and we know precisely what he desires of us.

1) St. John of the Cross said that a true poverty of spirit would deserve such happiness. What does poverty of spirit mean to you? What does that look like in your life?

2) What things can you pinpoint as clutter in your life? How do these things interfere with your ability to hear God’s voice?

3) Does your perspective of God and what’s important to Him match your lifestyle? Explain why or why not.

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