The last several days my heart has been out-of-sorts. I have found myself easily upset, driven to constant busyness and shrouded by doubt concerning life, God and myself.
Trying to find relief from this soul-influenza, which seems to hit hardest between Thanksgiving and New Years, I got busy working on “the things I need to get done.” Instead of finding gradual relief; I became more agitated, lonely and depleted.
This morning I gave up, not on God, but on my unaided ability to fix this state I was in. As I gave over my heart in its present bewildering condition to Jesus, the angst and uncertainty began to lift. At some point during this “releasing under the reign of Christ” moment, a thought or perhaps a desire came to me – to open the book The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis. This is what I read:
“He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises. A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals. No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen.”
My first reaction was to my out-of-sorts heart was to work on the “externals” and wait for a “special place or time to perform devout exercises.” I was perhaps suffering and struggling needlessly for days, when I could have “adjusted myself to things AS they happened.”
Then I read:
“Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.”
I don’t know why I often go around the “inward man” with myself. I know better. I love Kempis’ expression, “His visits with the inward man are frequent.” I so often try to find Him in the “outward” places unsuccessfully. But there He waits, in my heart, “whose beauty and glory…He takes delight.”
I hope that we will remember and remind each other to live from our interior life and to “recollect” our self; finding God’s consolation, peace and intimacy.
Well how interesting to pull this up this morning as I’ve sat and looked at my writings on a dry erase board and cried out to God that I’m 45 years old and living a life that doesn’t fit my desires and calling. My heart has been “out-of-sorts” for days also. This is only my second time on your web-site…the first to order your book, and today…just because. I keep thinking I don’t want to be alone with my dreams – I’m the only woman I know that loves the things I love. As I walked to my computer I kept hearing a voice say that first I need to be good with just being with Him in these things. “He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things…” Thank you for sharing your comments and where your heart is. It’s been of help to me today.
April, your not alone in your struggle to align your life with your calling / desires. It’s all of our journey. Keep pressing on – the world needs the effect of your life.
Very encouraging! Yes, I see this need to realign with the reality of Jesus daily. Growing in Him. Thanks for your thoughts!
Matt, your welcome.
Great post, Gary! It’s so important to remember to slow down to recollect ourselves. I’ve heard some people talk about centering prayer as being helpful. In my work as a psychologist, I can easily get distracted and unfocused about my work with my clients. It’s so helpful when I remember to take a moment and recenter myself. I’m happier, and I do better work. I think I need to remember this at home with my family, too! 🙂
Josh, me too. I’m always amazed at how much becomes clear or the creativity that comes when I don’t engage my “work” first thing in the morning, but rather take some time alone with God. And then I forget again and rush to my desk.
Gary I always look forward to your writings, such life and thoughts to meditate on. I thank you for your vulnerablity here which allows others to see your walking with God,ups and downs. Todays message gives not only voice to what happens so often in my own life (especially during this season) but you give such encouragement in navigating through….thank you friend.
(ps. lexie’s picture her is beautiful, another picture of LIFE)
Vicki, your welcome. Though we are unique individuals, our journey are similar.
Thanks, Gary. I love how you and Kempis and Jesus explore the inner life. It really is where all the action is. Isn’t it? The battle, the discovery, the journey, the intimacy… it all takes place in the center of the chest. It was Kempis’ Frontier no doubt about it.
Yep, Jack. Kempis is a gift to the followers of Christ.
For many of us it is so foreign to live from the inner life. This is a great encouragement. In my job search today I am constantly fighting the battle to be busy doing the expected versus taking time to be with God and discover His plan.
Chris, I’m with you in this struggle. It’s good to be with you in Base Camp.
Nicely expressed, Gary.
I, too, am finding the irony of distance and distraction during Christmas gift shopping, grandkids, book writing, family fun and worship…all very much framed by the God of my heart. So, why’s He visiting less that heart right now, I wonder. You prodded my thinking. Oh, yeah, He visits the inner place, alright. But unlike two half-eaten cookies and a glass of milk for Santa, I have not been leaving Him any indication He’s welcome or that I have time for Him.
I’m heading off to the cookie jar now.
Great phrase: “Unlike two half-eaten cookies and a glass of milk for Santa, I have not been leaving Him any indication He’s welcome or that I have time for Him.” You are a poetic writer.
I think of John references: “The Shining”.
I look outside my window, at work, anxious to be involved in God moments. When I look out I never try to think of the natural concerns but the supernatural expectations.
I look up and see a war going on, I look straight and see trees, a pond, palms, I look down and just saw another Wildman (from Lutz) and know I’m not alone in my thoughts.
Chris, well said.
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Thank you for sharing your realness of living in the tension of life!
In the latter part of 2001 the Father revealed to me the calling/purpose and inheritance of my family through a series of scriptures. Upon receiving this revelation I phoned my brother, a few years before he had received the exact same scripture for our family.
There is a story in this offering – the past several months have been like this for me, I’ve been wrestling, attempting to manage the external and life as our culture defines it – bottom line what is my purpose? What am I hear for? I feel the need to accomplish this task, further my education, become “someone”? Early one Sunday morning the Father woke me early and whispered, “a clearing is ahead.” With my spiritual eyes I saw the clearing, but knew there was ground to take up ahead on the path. After finishing this quiet time I went for my morning run. I said to myself I don’t want to take the same path this morning. There was a path to my right, which I never run on. The Lord said, “Take this path”. My reply, “Wait Father! I don’t know where it ends, how long is it, how much time it will take to finish?” His reply, “Trust me” I ran the path, at the end was a small bridge to cross, with the path ending in a CLEAR open field. Those nearby heard my echo of shouts, declaring my love for HIM and tears of joy! I’ve held on to this promise through the last few months – “There is a CLEARING ahead…”
This week on Sunday evening, upon quieting myself before the Lord and reading a devotion – I was led back to this place in scripture (from 2001), with a sweet reminder that my mission/purpose is to live a life of intimacy with the triune God. This isn’t rocket science nor a cutting edge idea – a simple truth, ever so basic. I’m in the CLEARING now, knowing intimacy is essential for life –
Wow. What an amazing story and what a great truth. Thank you. In The Clearing.
Just this morning I was sitting, desperately looking for some answers to the discontent. And all that happened was the racing thoughts and tapes of conversations past playing through my head. Out-of-sorts. For days now. And I walk pretty close to my calling. This month plagued by doubt, helplessness, loneliness, inability to “get it right”. Even deer season. Comes to a close tonight. Three years with no deer. Am I blowing it? 10 years before, 10 deer, within 10 yards. No issue. Moved to the city. Thought we were walking with God. Change of ministry. I get injured. I struggle through 3 years of questioning, coming closer to God, feeling like IT IS RIGHT and then slamming back in to uncertainty.
The vision feels so far away and so out of reach. New developments raise hopes and then they flutter just out of reach. Moments of beauty and restoration punctuated by distance and heartache. A story like this should end with “BUT GOD IS GOOD!” and “GOD IS FAITHFUL! HE’LL SEE ME THROUGH.” That’s not what it looks like from my chair right now. I believe it. I want it. But I could have sat there all day letting the tapes play in my head.
Your post is a rescue. I said your very words to my wife this morning. “I can’t do this myself. I just can’t.” Like Frodo to Sam on the side of Mount Doom. And I do feel the rescue coming through. Thank you deeply for the reminder. My interior life with Christ. Sheesh. I’m GOOD AT THIS. I am. But I’ve been forgetful. And busy. And careless.
Thank you. For reminding me.
Doug, you are so welcome. Your honesty inspires me as does your perseverance. Thank you.
Thats good Gary. Ive been running around all morning trying to make things happen with no results. I feel as if life is 500 miles ahead of me going 300 hundred miles an hour and my car can only go 50 and is running out of gas. Its not helping to push the gas pedal to the floor. The only place I can go is to the peace that is given to me from an outside source. God himself. So I stand in the tension, not knowing how things with work out. Once again forced in a good way to connect with the inner life and Gods voice and presence instead of the clamor of all the other voices that would want me to dismiss my real identity and destiny.
Ok, Sonny, your analogy is amazing. God’s presence instead of the world clamor – that’s great. Hang in there.
When I read your blog I feel like you are writing this just for me…..I feel like I am underwater with all the external things going on in my life, the assault of the enemy as of late has been relentless. But your email has been so timely and I can’t thank you enough for your insight and then your willingness to share it with all of us. Please keep doing what your are doing, it is making a huge impact in my life and I know the lives of others…
Learning to live in the interior…
Ed, your welcome. I’m simply compelled to do this. Keep treading water…the rescue boat is coming.
I wish I could say “Days” but weeks is a better description for where I’ve been – I actually thought I could ‘re-engage’ with him over a trip this past week -fat chance. It’s easy to walk right out or right past the interior life in the rush to ‘fix things’ which traps me into focusing on the situations I’m in at the moment-situations (externals) that almost always shroud the view of the life Jesus offers right now. And those situations just suck the life right out of me. Why do I so often forget that the offer is Life: Right Here – Right Now… and its found inside me…
“Forgetting” I know…it my big enemy as well. I wonder if its like living in a place that does not speak your language and after a while you forget your own native-tongue. Perhaps our true native-tongue is the language of the heart within the Kingdom of God and few speak it here.
Thanks Gary … this Blog reminds me of the days when I used to have lunch with you at FOTF and was blessed to have you share your wisdom with me.
Perhaps its the season of the year or maybe the season of life, but very often I find myself looking outward rather than reflecting inward. It’s as if I’m following the flesh rather than the Spirit. Life is speeding by and the only way to capture it for Christ is to continually resting on and with the Lord.
Thank you Ted. It’s good to be talking again, even if it’s only on-line. Hope you guys are doing well.
Thank you for this. It hit my heart with laser accuracy. This is always a rough time for me as many of my arrows occurred around Christmas/New Years. I also spend much of my energy on external diversions instead of sitting with whatever is going on inside and offering it to Christ. I read Imitation of Christ once and did not get much from it. Maybe I should read it again.
Mark, we’ll travel through this season together…and we’ll keep recollecting ourselves.
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It’s good to get a fresh way of looking at it.
Thanks Gary..Such awesome words. I always find it so amazing that when I sit back and just “be” with God, how those times are so refreshing, so energizing. Makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often.
I totally with you.