Sanctuary of the Soul: A Book Excerpt

Precisely because the Lord is present with us we can relax and let go of everything, for in the divine Presence nothing really matters, nothing is of importance except at- tending to God. We allow inner distractions and frustrations to melt away as snow before the sun. We allow God to calm the storms that rage within. We allow God's great silence to still our noisy heart.

A Glad Surrender
Several things occur in the process of recollection. First, there is a glad surrender to him "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev 1:8). We surrender control over our life and our destiny. In an act of deliberate intention we decide to do things God's way and not our way.

We surrender our possessiveness and invite God to possess us in such a way that we are truly crucified with Christ and yet truly alive through his life (Gal 2:19-20). We relinquish into God's hands our imperialist ambitions to be greater and more admired, to be richer and more powerful, to be saintlier and more influential.

We surrender our cares and worries. "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you," said Peter (1 Pet 5:7). And so we do, precisely because we sense God's loving care. We are enabled to give up the need to watch out for number one because we have One who is watching out for us.

It may be helpful to picture a box in which we place every worry and every care. When it is full, we gift-wrap it, placing a lovely big bow on top, and give it up as a present to the Father. God receives it, and we must not take it back, for to take back a gift once given is most discourteous.

We surrender our good intentions and high resolves, for even these can harbor the seeds of pride and arrogance. Before she died Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "Pray for me that I not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor." Her words are insightful here, for if we "loosen our grip on the hands of Jesus," we have lost everything. So we surrender all distraction—even good distraction—until we are driven into the Core.

A Spirit of Repentance and Confess ion
A second thing that occurs within us as we learn recollection is the rise of a spirit of repentance and confession. Suddenly we become aware—keenly aware—of our shortcomings and many sins. All excuses are stripped away; all self-justifications are silenced. A deep, godly sorrow wells up within for the sins of commission and the sins of omission. Any deed or thought that cannot stand in the searching light of Christ becomes repulsive not only to God but to us as well. Thus humbled under the cross we confess our need and receive his gracious word of forgiveness.

You may wonder if the Lord really needs to hear our confession since God already knows all things. Indeed, but as Søren Kierkegaard observed, "Not God, but you, the maker of the confession, get to know something by your act of confession." And what is it that we get to know? Well, for one thing we learn a little more about our own heart. One reason we cannot program our own heart is because we simply do not understand the depths of the human heart, most especially our own. But as we make confession, God is able then to peel back a few more layers of our heart and give us a glimpse into things we did not know about ourselves. This is all part of the process of heart transformation.

I hasten to add that not only are sin and evil and wickedness revealed in our confession but also goodness and light and life that we never knew about ourselves. Gordon Cosby, the well-known pastor of the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C., wrote, "Confession has to do with the facing and naming before God the darkness within us; it is also concerned with facing and naming before God the light within as it breaks forth with ever-increasing brilliance. Without a preparatory time of confession no real silence is possible."

To help us in our confession we may want to picture a path littered with many rocks. Some are small pebbles, others are quite large, and still others are almost completely buried so that we cannot know their size. With compunction of heart we invite the Lord to remove each stone, for they do indeed represent the many sins and sor- rows littering our lives. One by one our loving Lord picks them up, revealing to us their true character and offensiveness. To our eyes some look big and others small, but the Lord helps us to understand that when lifted the smallest pebble has the same weight as the largest boulder. Some rocks that represent sins committed against us need to be dug out of the ground. While this is painful, it also brings healing. When we see the path completely clear, we rejoice in this gracious work of the Lord.

Accepting the Ways of God
A third reality that works its way into our hearts as we experience recollection is an acceptance of the ways of God with human beings. You see, it is one thing to love God; it is quite another to love God's ways. The Bible is clear that God's ways are not our ways, that God's thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8). This passage goes on to explain God's ways:

10/1/2011 4:00:00 AM