“As long as we have only a vague inner feeling of discontent with our present way of living, and only an indefinite desire for ‘things spiritual,’ our lives will continue to stagnate in a generalized melancholy” – Henri J.M. Nouwen.
I have that “vague inner feeling of discontent” when I think about the state of my spiritual life. I go to church, I read my Bible, I’m going to school and Focus on the Family for crying out loud! Yet I can’t seem to achieve a depth to my spiritual life. I read a passage of scripture, force myself to think about it for awhile, then go about my day. My relationship with God does not permeate every area of my life the way that I desire it to. Something is obviously wrong with the way I approach my relationship with the Lord, but I don’t do anything to change it; I keep going on as I always have.
I know I believe in God and I know I am saved, but I do not feel a passionate love for Him. I’ve known that this lack of a deep love for my Creator was missing from my life for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to achieve that love. Finally, as I was reading for my Marriage and Family class, I ran across the solution. I was reading a book called The Practice of the Presence of God by a monk called Brother Lawrence when I ran across this quote: “We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him. And when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our hearts will be with our treasure.” It makes perfect sense! You can’t love someone you don’t know and you can’t get to know someone you don’t spend time with. Why do I love Brandon? Because I know him; I know he is kind and considerate, fun to be with, has an awesome sense of humor, and treats people with respect. How do I know this? Because I’ve spent countless hours with him. I don’t love the guy who bagged my groceries at the store (well, maybe I do in the Christian “love your neighbor” kind of way, but not in an intimate way) because I haven’t spent time getting to know him. My relationship with God is the same way. How can I expect to have a deep love for my Savior if I don’t spend time getting to know Him?
I must continually be in the presence of God, seeking to know Him more, if I am to love Him the way I desire to. Brother Lawrence even goes so far as to declare knowing God our profession: “Our business of life should be to know God. The more someone knows Him, the more he desires to know Him even more. Knowledge is commonly the measure of love. So the deeper and more extensive our knowledge of God is, the greater our love will be. And if our love of God is as great as it should be, we would love Him equally in pains and pleasures.” I should continually strive to know God more by reading His word and just being silent before Him to listen to Him. According to Brother Lawrence, the more I know Him, the more I’ll want to know Him.
There’s so much more I could write about this and so much I’m still discovering, but it goes off in all different directions, so I’ll stop here. I encourage anyone who feels like something’s missing in their relationship with God or has a “vague inner feeling of discontent” with their spiritual life to read The Practice of the Presense of God by Brother Lawrence. It’s an amazing book that will totally change the way you look at your relationship with God, and there’s so much more to it than what I’ve just written about. Definately one of my favorite books I’ve read at FFI . . . which isn’t saying much ’cause I have about 10 favorite books, but it’s really good. Read it.