Last week, we emphasized the fact that spiritual formation is essentially our response to grace, and that the human will is necessary in the formative process.
This week, we simply want to remind ourselves that while the will is necessary, it is not primary. Our response is not the most important thing; God’s revelation is. Our response is always secondary to what Dr. Carl F.H. Henry called, “the God who speaks and shows.” St. Francis said something similar when he said, “God is doing cartwheels in creation.”
The point is, our formation takes place in relation to God’s ongoing revelation. The primary way this happens is as we read the Bible attentively and obediently. Not too far down the road we’ll devote some of these postings to that very thing. But for now, it’s enough to know that God’s revelation is recorded and available through the pages of Scripture.
We also find God’s revelation through the circumstances of our lives, the observations we make, the experiences we are having, the conversations we have, etc. God uses everything to get our attention. As Henri Nouwen has said, “All is grace.” And because that is so, every moment of our life can be a “God moment.” We have the opportunity to be responsive to God through all that is happening.
We take a great step forward in the Christian life when we see it as continuous, not an “off” and “on” experience. In the seventeenth century Brother Lawrence called this “the practice of the presence of God.” God’s presence doesn’t come and go; it is continuous. So, we learn to practice being attentive to God’s presence in all the moments and experiences of our lives. We do this by receiving the revelation God is sending, and by putting the emphasis upon the discernment of that revelation. As Evelyn Underhill put it, “God is the interesting thing.” And the wonderful thing is that this “interesting” God is doing everything possible to get in touch with us.
Thank you, Dr. Steve, for this reminder! I think it was you who put me onto Brother Lawrence’s writings way back when, and reading them brought a paradigm shift for me. I am once again traveling on that path towards joy, seeking while being sought. Blessings, dgb