I have been developing a metaphor to bring insight into how spiritual development happens. That being, the spiritual journey is one of re-learning of what it means to walk with God in His garden today. I contend that this learning, when fully embraced, leads us to a place of acceptance of what actually is in our lives and world, with the realization and recognition that God is in all of it. I have also reflected on the key mental, emotional and spiritual posture needed to allow this truth of God being in everything to become real for us – that posture being one of surrender. For those of you who struggle with the word “surrender”, you could exchange “surrender” with “acceptance”.
Acceptance that only God is in control and the One with any power to affect real change, that He is the source of love, that She doesn’t waste anything and He especially refuses to waste any of my falling downs.
It occurs to me that really all of my falling, or failings if you like, are simply the result of my desire to try and control people, places and things. I remember being taught as a boy that self control was a virtue and that it was best expressed in my ability to control my instincts and desires to do bad things.
I have since learnt that self control is a virtue in this alone: that I will resist my desire to control anything or anyone and surrender and accept – in each moment – that it is God alone who is in control, not I. In effect, self control is best expressed in my non-controlling behaviour. In this framework of understanding, I would say that I am walking when I surrender to what is and accept what I cannot control, and I am not in control when I allow the fear of loss to determine my behaviours. The beauty of course is that whenever I forget, that is exactly the time when God is able to teach me again.
So do I run head long into my falling? No, but I do accept that it is my forgetful nature, Scriptures calls it my “sin nature”, that keeps me inclined to resist. The good news is, God’s grace takes every ounce of that resistance and transforms it into an invitation. I’m walking when I am able to let go, I am falling when I am trying to grab hold of my own power. It’s ironic that the very thing that prevents me the most from walking with God is my desire to resist the surrendering to, and accepting of, what is. I can always know when I am walking because I am not resisting anything – I am accepting of people, places and things as is, I accept life on life’s terms, I am letting go and letting God – in this moment, perhaps not the next, but in that moment of non-acceptance, that is where I am invited again.
Jesus invited me to love God and others as I love myself. I can’t love what I am trying to control. It is not love that controls. It’s fear that controls. The only love that can handle the power of control is a love that doesn’t have limits, and I am completely limited. Therefore, what I love I cannot control. My act is to surrender to what is so that God can have a place of power.
Recently a wise woman said to me, “The power is in the powerlessness.” When we embrace our powerlessness, God’s power has a chance. My life is teaching me that this is true. What is your life teaching you?
End note: Sean has written a number of pieces on the spiritual journey of re-learning and re-discovery of what being “Christian” means, thus leading to spiritual recovery. The theme is “Learning How to Walk Again” – check out the links below if you would like to read more.
- Learning How to Walk Again
- You Have to Crawl Before You Can Walk
- Standing with Help
- The First Imperfect Steps
- Point of View
- Simply Walking