Thursday, April 6, 2017

40 Days Journal: Faithful & Trustworthy

The thirteenth century Indian poet Kabir wrote:

What is God?
God is the breath inside the breath.

I experience this "breath inside breath" whenever I make space for contemplative prayer because I sit in stillness, in silence and listen to my breathing, to my heartbeats and to God. There is nothing mystical about this, it is merely creating time in my day to be centered in God.  Richard Rohr writes, "People who've had genuine spiritual experiences know that they don't know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind." This statement became so true to me during this sacred space of simply being before Him and allowing God's presence to be known to myself.

Before I begin my centering prayer, I open my Bible to the Psalms, which is the book of scripture I always pray aloud from before I begin my time in silence. Normally I just read my Psalm for that day, but on this particular day, I opened my Bible and found myself reading Psalm 111. Now I am not one of those people who just open their Bibles randomly and point my finger at whatever verse is there and believe that it's something supernatural. Still, I trusted that the Spirit had a reason for me to read this Psalm on this day. It did not become apparent why until I came to the seventh and eighth verses, "The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness." 

Unlike my normal centering prayer, where I focus on one word (an aspect of God such as "holy" or "nurturing" or "infinite"), the Spirit drew me to two words from the text: faithful and trustworthy.

As I sat in the stillness and silence, it started as a real struggle to quiet my restless and argumentative mind. My thoughts were all over the place. I started to wonder if I would even be able to do this or would I just get so frustrated that I'd give up. That's when I heard that still small whisper guiding me to meditate on those two simple words: faithful and trustworthy. So I re-centered myself and re-situated myself on the floor.  I'm not sure how much time had passed when I felt led to think "faithful" whenever I breathed in a breath and think "trustworthy" whenever I breathed out. Inhale: faithful. Exhale: trustworthy. Doing this made me more mindful of not only each breath but it made each breath a prayer.

Just as when I'm practicing yoga, when I am in this place of quiet contemplation, I become aware of the interconnectedness between breath, body, mind and spirit.

Breath. Spirit. Rauch or Pneuma of Spiritus (from the root Spiro meaning "I breathe"). Throughout scripture, breath and spirit are synonymous and are used interchangeably.

Once more, I am no sure how long I had been doing this when the still small internal voice of the divine presence had me think of the most painful, lonely and hurtful memories from my past. These were times when I had been hurt or when I had hurt someone else. With each remembrance, I was to continue to breathe in "faithful" and breathe out "trustworthy." Each breath in that context was a reminder that, even in my loneliest, most afraid, painful and wounding experiences that God was still faithful and trustworthy. As I moved my fingers along each bead of my prayer beads, I recalled a traumatic moment that wounded and shaped who I now was and my breathing reminded me that God had never abandoned me nor forsaken me. Not during the times when I was hurt and wounded, nor when I was the one hurting and wounding someone else. My failures, flaws, struggles, deepest wounds and fears were brought from my subconscious (some of which I had suppressed and forgotten) and then from my Spirit would come those two words: faithful and trustworthy.

Even when I wasn't. God was.

It wasn't long before I was sobbing. 

In those moments, it was as if Christ was kissing each of those wounded places inside of me to remind me of his love for me even when I felt unloved, unlovable or unloving. It was as if his kisses were healing those wounds and scars. And he whispered Psalm 139:8 to me, "If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there." The memories flooded in on me of my battle with depression and suicide. "I will never leave you nor forsake you," he reminded me as I continued to sob like a little child before him as I was broken and desperate for his love, affirmation and acceptance. I was naked before Christ - unable to hide anything back about myself: not the darkest fears, desires, struggles or pains. All was laid bare before him and he did not turn away, but, instead, picked up each one to take them away. And, once he had, he embraced me and called me his "beloved." Such healing in a single word. "Beloved."

Is it any wonder that Christ's Abba spoke, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" before the Spirit compelled Christ into the wilderness? God understood that His son was about to face forty days of of trials and temptations, in which the evil one questioned Christ's very identity. God was blessing and affirming Jesus because He understood Christ would most need those words during those forty days to remember who and Whose he was.

"Beloved" is God reminding us that we belong to Him.

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you nor forsake you. Do not fear or be afraid" (Deuteronomy 31:8). He goes before me in this wilderness that he leads me to but he will never leave me nor forsake me. The desert is not for his desertion but for my formation. He leads me there as an act of love, to be alone with me. "You are my beloved" he whispers so that I, too, will not forget my identity in him and him alone. As the angels ministered to him, so, too, will he minister to me now. 


Pistos. Literally fullness of faith. 


Similar to faithful (pistos) is the Greek word for trustworthy: pistikos. It means: genuine, pure, fullness of trust. 

Fullness of faith. Fullness of trust. God is fullness. Fullness is completion (pléróma).  Only in God will we begin to find fullness, find completion. 

Henri Nouwen writes, ". . . you are called to a greater intimacy with God and that this intimacy is only possible through a greater communion with the heart of Jesus."



Active participation. Fellowship. Sharing in common. Join together.

By making this sacred space for silence and stillness, I am allowing for communion with Christ. 

Communion can only occur away from the chatter and chaos of the outside world. It means turning off my smart phone and closing myself away in the house without distractions. It is pausing to listen. In the stillness of meditation and the sweetness of surrender, I find balance and perspective and healing. 

Communion with Christ always means being broken. From the breaking of bread and his body comes shalom, comes wholeness. From the broken seed a plant grows. In that moment, I was broken so that I could truly and deeply understand within every fiber of my being the trustworthiness and faithfulness of God. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. I was most struck by the mention of Jesus being told (by God) of his belovedness just before he entered the wilderness. If Jesus needed that reminder, how much more do we need it.