2 Timothy 3:14 “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,”
Inner discipline of the soul is a pattern of solitude that requires silence. Catherine de Hueck Doherty writes, “All in me is silent and ……I am immersed in the silence of God.”
The poetic refrains of spiritual contemplation revive the mystery and majesty of entering into a union with God—one of which the world has never known. Take a look at the cross from a perspective that begins within you and let the view remind you that a life in Christ carries a poetic beauty that is worth living.
St. John the Cross
There exists a 16th century poem of St. John of the Cross. In 8 stanzas of 5 lines each, the poem narrates the journey of the soul toward a mystical union with God. The journey is called “The Dark Night” in part because darkness represents the fact that the destination—God seems unknowable.
The first verse of the poem translates like this:
“In an obscure night
Fevered with love’s anxiety
(O hapless, happy plight!)
I went, none seeing me
Forth from my house, where all things quiet be.“
At the beginning of the treatise Dark Night (the Declaración), St. John wrote: “In this first verse, the soul tells the mode and manner in which it departs, as to its affection, from itself and from all things, dying through a true mortification to all of them and to itself, to arrive at a sweet and delicious life with God.”
“In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.“
It is in like manner of exposing the soul to God that David realized the importance of being left vulnerable to the God who created him.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
*Internal reflection exposes the void that God’s truth can fill, while shedding the image of what we thought we were apart from Him.
Stripping away the old
The more we expose the darkness of our soul, the more we learn the true nature of who we are, and the more we gain a right perspective of God’s majesty.
“In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
The desire of a soul towards it’s redeemer begins in the heart, a calling from the deep as mysterious as the night. The call comes by way of God’s Spirit, a revelation of His mercy and grace. There is no construct of man or establishment formed by human intervention that supplants the fullness of gaining knowledge of God. The yearning heart is never fulfilled by this world and so it seeks something deeper, and so the deep calls out.
“This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.“
The depth of God’s love is revealed through His call, for those who respond, they find the Truth in their searching.
John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
When the hungry soul finds the source of it’s calling, it is faced with a dilemma–all preconceived notions must be stripped away for the Truth makes evident of all that has separated them from God.
“Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!“
Once the one who walked in darkness has been exposed to the light, they are either drawn further in or they run. The draw to be made new conflicts with the desire to hold onto what they thought they controlled. Self-justification collides with God’s moral law and the proud in heart is crushed by the weight of sin.
The light reveals every crevice of the heart and every offense must be reconciled with the purity and holiness of God.
How does the sinner progress from a position of darkness into purification and holiness?—-Beginning with prayer, the process of understanding the position of the condemned is to recognize the promise of the redeemer.
Isaiah 44:6 “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
*Prayer–Submitting to God’s transforming power is to place oneself into the light of God’s righteousness thus exposing the darkness of sin. Gaining a right understanding of God’s Holiness is necessary for man to see himself as God sees him. Prayer assumes a position of humility and God reveals truth to the one who submits to Him. The act of humility before God shows itself further by a contrite spirit that desires to walk in obedience. (Isaiah 57:15)
*Position–To leave the darkness for the light is to deny all you were that He might make you into all He desires. What you once thought was yours is now all His. When experiencing the Lord for the first time the broken hearted becomes whole. Worship emanates to the Lord as agape love is experienced for the first time. True meaning in life is found only in Christ. It’s not easy to see the darkness apart from God’s glorious light, it was shameful and revealed a depravity most don’t want to accept. Fear wants to pull away and hide from His revealing Spirit and yet the good news of Christ is toward restoration, not destruction. Jesus wants to restore His Creation to what it was originally intended and new life in Him is a part of that restorative order.
Revelation 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
“Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.”
*Promise–Walking in the knowledge of Christ brings the process of restoration and healing to the forefront of life. The Lord promised to never leave His people or forsake them. He promised to comfort them as they walk through the valley of death, and it is by the knowledge of Him they are restored. The sinner cannot change the past but his future is changed within the miraculous discovery of God’s redeeming grace. The life in Christ changes and creates a paradigm shift in respect to the world. When the sinner accepts the Truth that God revealed in Christ and walks in it, they find the joy and peace they have always longed for.
“The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.”
Psalm 139:4-6 “For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.”
The book “The knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer is considered a masterful classic that examines how God has revealed truth toward mankind—an examination of what many have taken for granted.
Tozer makes a compelling case for christians to have a proper view of God. He warns: “The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God”. He adds: “The man who has a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems”. He notes that the greatest sin we can commit is idolatry, that is, creating a false image of who God is. He warns; “An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand”.
The more we recognize how God has revealed Himself, the more we can gain a right perspective of life itself.
Song of Solomon 2:14 “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Taking on the New
The process of self realization is not to diminish a person’s value before God, people were valuable enough for God to die upon the cross for salvation. If a person realizes who they were apart from Christ, they can move on toward all He has for them now. Self-denial is to remove all that inhibits so that Spirit of God may work out His salvation in proper form.
By not relying on the promises of this world, and not dwelling on how people in their lives let them down, the redeemed no longer hold onto the image formed of themselves based off the lies of the world.
When a right perspective is gained internally, a follower of Christ can live out a right pattern externally.
Psalm 119:144 “Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.”
When a humble servant of Christ stops trusting in themself, they can trust in the Creator who loves them and gave Himself for them. When a believer acts out of love for God, that love transcends into a love for others. The way godly love is revealed is in accordance with God’s nature. To dwell on His nature is to understand a right position before Him and so it then becomes the natural process to walk in understanding.
Deuteronomy 5:33 “You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.”
The final refrain of St. John the cross delivers the hope of all who walk in Christ today. On earth there is no greater bliss than knowing and walking with Jesus—in Heaven there will be no greater joy than to fall at His feet and worship Him.
“I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.”
Meditating on the attributes of God allows the Lord to change perspective on everything–moving from darkness into light. As God reveals new insights from His Word, He transforms the inner man—then it is up to His people to walk in the truth He imparts.