Monday, September 15, 2008

from John of the Cross - real presence

Yesterday's meditation I read spoke of how we miss God and God's real presence, because we think we have God figured out in our paltry, idolatrous notions. How we need to bow and realize that there is no way we have God down at all. That we must be still and let God make himself known to us.

This doesn't deny the importance of the word of God in this revelation from God, but God still must reveal himself to us. This is compared to hearing about someone, with maybe even words they've said, and then getting to meet them and get to know them in person and personally. God reveals himself to us by the Spirit, giving to us not only the revelation of himself, but his "real presence".

I found it helpful for me to set aside everything of my own understanding, and to be open to God's revelation of himself. What surely helped me prior to the reading was my continual calling on God before getting up. I pray to God everyday, and hopefully throughout the day, though I can be slack at times. But to really call on the Lord and seek his face like I did out of a sense of need yesterday morning is all too rare for me.

God began to answer very soon, and in no small part through the reading of the meditation from John of the Cross. I wish I could just copy it here, but if you can get your hands on this book, it's good to start from day one in a 40-day journey. I've found that I have to think carefully at what John of the Cross is getting at sometimes, because I can be turned off by Christian spirituality teachings which seem to be hard on creation. At the same time I can also misunderstand such, and even when I don't, fail to see the good that is there. In the case of the meditations so far, I'm reminded of the difference between the good world God created, still good even though subject to the fall, and the world's system set against God manifested in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Each meditation from the book is best pondered and allowed time to sink into our minds and hearts. I do think with the help of John of the Cross yesterday, I did know that the Lord was, or had been there (in a manifest way- though I certainly believe God is always with us in Jesus), especially during our time of gathering and worship yesterday.

What thoughts might you like to share from these few thoughts from John of the Cross on "real presence"?


NaNcY said...

i have not heard of this book before.
sounds interesting.

while i am here, i wanted to mention a blog of milton stanley's called expository links.

thought you might like to see it.

i am think that God is always with us, for His Holy Spirit lives in us. however, i think that we do not pay attention to the Spirit (or to God) as we should. in other words God is always with us, but we are not always with Him. and thus we might be paying attention to our sinful nature instead of the Holy Spirit.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for the link, Nancy.

Good thought. I think it's easy to pay attention to the flesh which is inclusive of the world and the devil. We are in Christ, not in Adam- yet we can revert back to our old lives. We are light in the Lord and no longer darkness. We're to so live.

But your point about us not being with God and not paying sufficient attention to him is a good one.

Bob said...

Hello Ted,

You have an interesting point when you say “John of the Cross is hard on creation”. Do you mean that his teachings and life are austere and he seems to have harsh ascetical practices. I’ve tried to read him, Teresa of Avila and Thomas A’ Kempis but always felt I could never experience God like they have because I didn’t want to do the “hard work”. It seems that the book you mentioned is more focused on God coming to us maybe more “graced based” based on what I could read at Amazon.

I’m glad your darkness has lifted some.

Take care Bob

Ted M. Gossard said...

Wow, I just lost my entire comment.

Thanks. I just had a semi-long explanation I'll try to duplicate in part.

I think John of the Cross is grace-oriented in this devotional reading of his writings.

Many Christian spiritual teachings in the past, I see as under a Platonic influence, a negative one (not everything about Plato is negative, actually). Such teachings can relegate spirituality to "the spirit", the heart, the inner being. And can falsely deny that the body and physical things are spiritual, contra Romans 12:1-2, which makes it explicitly clear that the body is indeed spiritual, and all we do from it, in God's eyes. Also such teachings can be hard on creation, as Paul warns about in 1 Timothy, I believe.

In reading John of the Cross, he may fall into that a bit, though I press to read him according to Scripture, and he does seem to me to do well (albeit there is some mysticism there, which while possibly compatible with Scripture, is not necessarily found in the same way there- though that's a small part of it, at the most). Of course no human writer, or any of us is infallible- apart from divine inspiration. Even with the Spirit helping us, I take it that we can make mistakes in what we teach- of course not due to the Spirit, but due to our own error. Of course the writing of Scripture was protected from the error I speak of here, I take it.

Good to hear from you.