When we go beyond the Scriptures to hear God, we face significant dangers.
“Supernatural knowledge that reaches the intellect by the exterior bodily senses” must not be relied upon says St. John of the Cross. Why says John? Because we can be easily deceived by counterfeits from the devil.
“Individuals who esteem these apprehensions are in serious error and extreme danger of being deceived.” (AMC 2:11:3) He says false visions and communications from the devil “cause in the spirit agitation, or dryness, or vanity, or presumption.”
On the other hand, communications from God, “penetrate the soul, move the will to love, and leave their effect within. As Muto says, God’s self-communications …penetrate the soul like fragrant oil softens dry, cracked skin.” (58)
In our longing for these sensory communications we are vulnerable. We must detach ourselves from desires for these special communication. As Muto says, “If good, their effects will show up anyway; if bad, they will be eliminated from the start.”(60)
A good reminder to not seek out special experiences with God or from God. I do need to spend time listening rather than always talking but when I start hearing voices, it is time to be on the alert!
Still thinking about Psalm 133. Today, I was thinking about the precious oil flowing down Aaron’s head, beard to the bottom of his robe. Found some references in Ex and Lev that refer to the initial anointing of Aaron and his sons by Moses if you are interested: Ex 30:30-33; 40:13-15; Levit 8:10-12, 30
Wanted to find some paintings but I only find one by a Kabbalist painter, Moshe Tzi Berger, whose has done paintings of all the Psalms. Kabbalists are a bit too weird for me, they are Jewish mystics who focus on the “inner meaning” of the Hebrew texts. But, with persistence, I found a calligraphy done by Connie Jones for a class under Dr. Stephen L. Cook and posted on his blog. Below is higher quality image I uploaded.
NT reading was in Col 3:5-18 today. Wow, want a text on how to build unity–here it is!!
- Remember your life is now hidden with Christ in God v3
- Don’t live like you once did 5-8 (Put off . . .)
- Do not lie to one another 9
- Start by remembering that you are chosen by God, you are holy and you are deeply loved by God. 12
- Focus on being (Put on the new self . . . Clothe yourselves with . . . ) 12-14
- compassionate 12
- kind 12
- humble 12
- gentle 12
- patient 12
- bearing with one another 13
- forgiving 13 (Paul had to say this twice since it is so important)
- (Put on) Loving–since love binds all the above together into unity 14
Guess this means that unity is something we will need to work towards! Is it worth it my brothers and sisters? With fear and trembling, I say yes.
Soul-connecting concluding words of the Spring 2008 Conversations with the article, “Mysticism: A Personal Reflection” by Alice Fryling; 87-88
Mysticism includes a self-surrender that will be a life-long challenge for me.
God calls upon me to surrender my desires to win approval, to fix other people’s problems, and to be in control of my own life. It is a mystery to me how I can let go of these desires.” 87
This means I do not need to understand. I do not need to be in control. Mysticism invites me to let go: to let go of the things I do to gain God’s love, to let go of my need to know the whole truth, to let go of taking myself so seriously. When I let go of my own grip on life, I find that God is already at work, changing me . . . 88
The most important thing is not whether we can explain it but that we truly experience God’s presence in our lives, that we are being transformed by God’s grace, and that we are loving one another with God’s love. 88
Jerry Root writes about “Evelyn Underhill: The Path toward Spiritual Maturity” on pages 76—81 of Conversations Spring 2008 issue
Mysticism is union with God.
The recognition that our deepest longings cannot be satisfied by any created thing awakens desire for the transcendent, but this desiring is not specifically Christian.
All religions have their mystics who testify to a hunger and thirst for God
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Lewis 79
It is true that we tend to define ourselves by how we perceive that others see us. But when we look to others in the hope of making sense of ourselves, we are disappointed, for we are looking to those who are at least as insecure as we are. We can gain a proper understanding of who we are only when we grasp how God sees us, and he loves us and forgives us. Knowing his love and forgiveness allows us to look honestly at ourselves so that we might adjust our lives to reality; that is, we might mature according to the truth of God as he reveals it by his love. 80
Two more points by Larry Crabb from his article, Confessions of a Badly Dressed Mystic in Spring 2008 volume of Conversations
1. Reason and imagination have equal value in mysticism.
- The aim of true mysticism is not to experience God; it is to glorify God.
- True mystical experience consists in nothing less than literal participation in the eternally ongoing perichoretic life of the divine community.
- Christian mysticism becomes not the attempt to experience now what can be fully experienced only in the next world, but the desire to experience now what will sustain us in the battle until we rest in the next world forever. Empowerment, not fulfillment, is more the point of mystical experience in this world.
2. Cosmetic transcendence is no substitute for curative transcendence.
- Transcendent experience not dependent on transcendent truth is cosmetic, not curative.
- Any experience—no matter how stirring or apparently God related—that fails to release us a little bit more from the bonds of self-sufficiency, fails to reach beneath our deepest and most painful wounds and expose our resolve to relieve our pain at any cost to others, and fails to supply power to please God and advance His kingdom at any cost to ourselves is counterfeit. 28
From Larry Crabb in his article, “Confessions of a Badly Dressed Mytic”
Union is established by the cross. Communion develops in the dark.
Union—securing a right relationship for a sinful person and holy God by the work of Christ
Communion—slow growth and enjoyment of the relationship gained above.
Present communion—has “more to do with the pain of thirst than the enjoyment of gratification.” Joy is more of a hope of satisfied desire than the experience of satisfaction
“We sometimes feel forsaken. We always are accepted and loved. That’s union. In the darkness, when we feel forsaken, we discover our desperate thirst for God, our consuming desire to know him, to experience him, to enjoy him. And concentrating on that desire, even as the experience of his absence deepens, is one form of communion, perhaps the one most pleasing to God.” 27
Actually, I heard a great illustration of this in a powerful testimony yesterday at church. Sandra had back surgery two years ago and because she was allergic to pain medication, she had the 18 hour surgery and all of her rehab without pain medication. Unbelievable, eh? She was expressing thanks for all that had prayed for her at church. She said for the past 2 years, “Pain has been my constant companion and diligent teacher.” She went on to describe how God had deepened her during this time. I think she was saying, like Crabb, that communion develops in the dark.
Reading in Psalm 77 and in this Psalm, Asaph seems to be experiencing the withdrawal of God. And yet . . . he says in verse 13, “Oh God, your ways are holy.” Oh yes, the inscrutable, holy, mysterious ways of God. Thank you Lord, thank you.