Daily Riches (CV Era): Managing Anxiety (Gregory Hills, Kathleen Deignan, Thomas Merton)

“Because of Covid-19, many of us are living, in a way, like monks, enclosed and isolated in our homes. But unlike the monks, we did not ask for or want this situation, nor it is one for which many of us were spiritually prepared. [Even so] we can use this moment to live into and be freed by the realization that there is much we cannot control. So much of our anxiety revolves around wanting to control the uncontrollable, and the pandemic can teach us the futility of this. . . . we need to be attentive to the present moment and so focus on that which we can control: ‘If I can concentrate on being in control of that very small circle of reality that is entrusted to me and in some sense depends on me—how I use my time, how I take care of myself, how I care for my family and friends, how I daily and hourly turn my concerns over to God—then my anxiety diminishes.’ This is ‘a great opportunity to yield control of our lives, to let ourselves truly trust in the goodness and providence of God amidst all that is happening.’ Whether we are aware of it or not, ‘we are living in the presence of a living, caring and loving God,’ . . . and we can use this time of quarantine to develop, alone or with those with whom we live, a sense of this divine presence.” Gregory Hills, quoting several monks he interviewed

“Merton sought refuge in the Trappist monastery . . . ‘in revolt against the meaningless confusion of a life in which there was so much activity, so much movement, so much useless talk, so much superficial and needless stimulation’ that he could not remember who he was. For the next half of his life he learned a new way of being . . . and [made the] discovery of a new self, his true self, drawn up like a jewel from seas of confusion, restlessness, and banality.” Kathleen Deignan, quoting Thomas Merton

“Cast all your anxiety on him
because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was your pre-covid life characterized by too much activity, useless talk, superficial stimulation?
  • Have you quit trying to control the uncontrollable? Can you focus instead on what has been “entrusted” to you?
  • Might God be calling to you in this time of pain–inviting you to be drawn up “like a jewel from seas of confusion, restlessness, and banality?”

Abba, may my seemingly unmanageable anxiety force me to cast myself upon you.

For More: Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours by Kathleen Deignan

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Riches (CV Era): Seeing Solitude as a Gift (Jennifer Stitt, Hannah Arendt, Pythagoras, and Frederich Nietzsche)

“In the morning–solitude; . . . that nature may speak to the imagination,
as she does never in company.” Pythagoras

“In the 20th century, the idea of solitude formed the centre of Hannah Arendt’s thought. A German-Jewish émigré who fled Nazism and found refuge in the United States, Arendt spent much of her life studying the relationship between the individual and the polis. . . . She understood that freedom entailed more than the human capacity to act spontaneously and creatively in public. It also entailed the capacity to think and to judge in private, where solitude empowers the individual to contemplate her actions and develop her conscience, to escape the cacophony of the crowd—to finally hear herself think. . . . In our hyper-connected world, a world in which we can communicate constantly and instantly over the internet, we rarely remember to carve out spaces for solitary contemplation. We check our email hundreds of times per day; we shoot off thousands of text messages per month; we obsessively thumb through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, aching to connect at all hours with close and casual acquaintances alike.  . . . We crave constant companionship. But, Arendt reminds us, if we lose our capacity for solitude, our ability to be alone with ourselves, then we lose our very ability to think. We risk getting caught up in the crowd. We risk being ‘swept away,’ as she put it, ‘by what everybody else does and believes in’—no longer able, in the cage of thoughtless conformity, to distinguish ‘right from wrong, beautiful from ugly.’ Solitude is not only a state of mind essential to the development of an individual’s consciousness—and conscience—but also a practice that prepares one for participation in social and political life. Before we can keep company with others, we must learn to keep company with ourselves.” Jennifer Stitt

“Flee, my friend, into your solitude! I see you dazed by the noise of men . . . .” Frederich Nietzsche

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home.
You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
Jesus, in John 16:32 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Many of us are confined at home with others. If that’s you, how can you make a plan “to escape the cacophony of the crowd?”
  • Others are home by ourselves but with lots of distractions. Instead of constantly seeking connection, can you try to learn from Jesus, to be “not alone” even when friends are unavailable?
  • Some important things never happen “in company.” Can you imagine some important changes in your life that could happen simply because of enforced solitude?  . . . values rediscovered? . . . “normalcy” redefined? . . . new intimacy with the God who is present in the stillness?

Abba, I choose the solitude that is forced upon me, and want to welcome it’s priceless gifts.

For More: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton

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Daily Riches: Skipping the Appointed Hour of Prayer (Abraham Heschel)

“Of all the sacred acts, first comes prayer.” Abraham Heschel

“About a hundred years ago Rabbi Isaac Meir Alter of Ger pondered over the question of what a certain shoemaker of his acquaintance should do about his morning prayer. His customers were poor men who owned only one pair of shoes. The shoemaker used to pick up their shoes at a late evening hour, work on them all night and part of the morning, in order to deliver them before their owners had to go to work. When should the shoemaker say his morning prayer? Should he pray quickly the first thing in the morning, and then go back to work? Or should he let the appointed hour of prayer go by and, every once in a while, raising his hammer from the shoes, utter a sigh: ‘Woe unto me, I haven’t prayed yet!’? Perhaps that sign is worth more than prayer itself. We, too, face this dilemma of wholehearted regret or perfunctory prayer, waiting for an urge that is complete, sudden, and unexampled. But the unexampled is scarce, and perpetual refraining can easily grow into a habit. We may even come to forget what to regret, what to miss.” Heschel

“Of all things we do prayer is the least expedient, the least worldly, the least practical. This is why prayer is an act of self-purification. This is why prayer is an ontological necessity.” Heschel

“To avoid prayer constantly is to force a gap between man and God which can widen into an abyss.” Heschel

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple
at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”
Acts 3:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The practice of daily prayer at fixed times has long been part of the practice of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. If it’s not your practice, have you ever considered its merits? . . . how might it benefit you?
  • Scheduled prayer can become “perfunctory.” Why be involved in something like that? What does Heschel say?
  • Practical pressures easily make prayer seem “the least expedient . . . the least practical” thing to do. In what way might stopping to pray at scheduled times be an “an act of self-purification” for you? Is prayer the “first” of all your sacred acts?

Abba, bring me back to you over and over throughout the day. I’m ever drifting.

For More: Man’s Quest For God by Abraham Heschel

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Daily Riches: . . . And Nothing Changes (David Benner)

“The conversion of the heart that lies at the core of Christian spiritual transformation begins at the cross. It involves meeting God’s love in the cross, not simply encountering some judicial solution for the problem of human sin. It must also involve surrender to that love, not simply being warmed by it as a comforting spiritual truth.” David Benner

“Love is the acid test of Christian spirituality. . . . If we are not becoming more loving, something is seriously wrong. But how do we become more loving and what has gone wrong if we are on the Christian spiritual journey but our heart is not more and more the heart of the Father? How do we move beyond self-interest as our number one priority? How do we get from envy, criticalness or competitiveness to compassion? . . . When I am confronted with my frequent failure in love, my first instinct has always been to try harder. I recognize the poverty of my love. . . . I feel regret and discouragement. I pray for help in being more loving. I try harder. And nothing changes. . . . My own struggles to become more loving have been the most discouraging aspect of my Christian spiritual journey. But as I have begun to learn to come back through the cross to the extravagant love of God for me, slowly my hard heart is beginning to thaw. Ever so slowly my heart is becoming God’s heart–larger and more tender than anything I could have ever expected or experienced as a result of my most persistent effort. . . . Allowing myself to deeply experience his love–taking time to soak in it and allow it to infuse me–has begun to effect changes that I had given up hope of ever experiencing. Coming back to God in my failure at love, throwing myself into his arms and asking him to remind me of how much he loves me as I am–here I begin to experience new levels of love to give to others.” Benner

“If you love your neighbor,
you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”
Romans 13:8b NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you ever feel like “nothing changes?”
  • In those moments, is your solution “try harder?”
  • Is God’s love for sinners something you actually experience?

Abba, let me soak in, and be infused with, your love for me–and be motivated and empowered to love others.

For More: Surrender to Love by David Benner

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Sources:

Benner, David G. Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity, 2003.

Daily Riches: The First Rule of Prayer (Ronald Rolheiser)

“What eventually makes us stop praying, John of the Cross says, is simple boredom, tiredness, lack of energy. It’s hard, very hard, existentially impossible, to crank-up the energy, day in and day out, to pray with real affectivity, real feeling, and real heart. . . . We’re human beings, limited in our energies, and chronically too-tired, dissipated, and torn in various directions to sustain prayer on the basis of feelings. . . . Monks have secrets worth knowing and anyone who has ever been to a monastery knows that monks (who pray often and a lot) sustain themselves in prayer not through feeling, variety, or creativity, but through ritual, rhythm, and routine. . . . Too commonly, we accept the following set of axioms as wise: Creativity and variety are always good. . . . Longer is better than shorter. Either you should pray with feeling or you shouldn’t pray at all. Ritual is meaningless unless we are emotionally invested in it.[1] Each of these axioms is over-romantic, ill thought-out, anthropologically naive, and not helpful in sustaining a life a prayer. Prayer is a relationship, a long-term one, and lives by those rules. Relating to anyone long-term has its ups and downs. Nobody can be interesting all the time, sustain high energy all the time, or fully invest himself or herself all the time. Never travel with anyone who expects you to be interesting, lively, and emotionally-invested all the time. Real life doesn’t work that way. Neither does prayer. What sustains a relationship long-term is . . . a regular rhythm that incarnates the commitment. . . . . the great spiritual writers have always said that there is only one, non-negotiable, rule for prayer: ‘Show up! Show up regularly!’ The ups and downs of our minds and hearts are of secondary importance.” Ronald Rolheiser

 “Devote yourselves to prayer.”
Colossians 4:2 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you sometimes just too tired, too overwhelmed–or honestly simply too unmotivated to pray? Welcome, fellow pilgrim.
  • Are you trying to be someone who prays regularly without having a “routine” or “rhythm” or “practice?” Is that working?
  • Why not make a specific plan for daily prayer (be realistic)–and then just begin “showing up?” See what happens.

Abba, I refuse to leave my communion with you to chance. I know you’re waiting. I’m going to show up.

For more: Prayer: Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser.

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Thanks for reading, following and sharing these “Daily Riches!” Look for my upcoming book –Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these provocative quotes, questions, and prayers.

[1] my emphasis

Sources:

Rolheiser, Ronald. “The Value of Ritual in Sustaining Prayer.” http://ronrolheiser.com/the-value-of-ritual-in-sustaining-prayer/#.WuDLHMgh2Rs.

Daily Riches: Our Illusions When Serving Others (Belden Lane, Meister Eckhart and Oswald Chambers)

“A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others.” Oswald Chambers

“Meister Eckhart insisted that ‘if a person were in a rapture as great as St. Paul once experienced and learned that his neighbor were in need of a cup of soup, it would be best to withdraw from the rapture and give the person the soup he needs.’ The contemplative returns to the ordinary, not in spite of her detachment from it, but because of that detachment. No longer driven by fear of rejection and loss, she is able now to love others without anxiously needing anything in return. …The author of The Cloud of Unknowing argued that the person steeped in apophatic [wordless] prayer is able to love everyone, without ‘special regard for any individual, whether he is kinsman or stranger, friend or foe.’ Where one is free from the need to impress the one or to fear the other, all can be loved. Eckhart said that people who, through prayer, have become dead to all things and in touch with nothingness, become powerfully and perhaps even dangerously free. They are able to ‘aim at nothing in their works, to intend nothing in their minds, seeking neither reward nor blessedness.’ They move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises. …The truest impulse toward work for social justice, therefore, grows not out of an anxious sense of pity for others or a grandly noble desire to serve, but out of the abandonment of the self in God. A love that works for justice is wholly uncalculating and indifferent, able to accomplish much because it seeks nothing for itself. …In the apophatic way, love is not directed toward an attractive, lovable object. Indeed, it is drawn to that which appears as nothing, to that which is least in this world…. It flourishes in receiving no response, expecting nothing in return. …One’s work for social change, when rooted in such a truth becomes altogether free–released from all the illusions and expectations we usually bring to our service to others.” Belden Lane

“I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding
that they cannot be expressed in words”
2 Corinthians 12:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you love “expecting nothing in return?”
  • Do you “move through the world with a compassionate indifference to all its threats and promises?”
  • How could you perpetually “look into the face of God” before attempting to care for others?

Abba, teach me this often unfamiliar, always counterintuitive love.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Thank you for sharing/following my blog! Please leave a question or comment. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: The Longest Journey … The Journey Inward (Howard Thurman, Geri Scazzero and Dag Hammarsjold)

“We have become adept at exploring outer space, but we have not developed similar skills in exploring our own personal inner spaces. In fact the longest journey is the journey inward.” Dag Hammarsjold

“All travelers, somewhere along the way, find it necessary to check their course, to see how they are doing. We wait until we are sick, or shocked into stillness, before we do the commonplace thing of getting our bearings. And yet, we wonder why we are depressed, why we are unhappy, why we lose our friends, why we are ill-tempered. This condition we pass on to our children, our husbands, our wives, our associates, our friends. Cultivate the mood to linger. …Who knows? God may whisper to you in the quietness what [God] has been trying to say to you, oh, for so long a time.” Howard Thurman

“Honoring our different rhythms involves respecting and negotiating our needs and preferences at work, with friends, at church, in our marriage, our extended families, and even our parenting. To begin listening to your inner rhythms, consider the following questions: Do you know when it is time to be with people and when it is time to be alone? Do you know when it is time to rest or time to play? What are your most optimal work hours? How much sleep to you need? When is it time to eat? Is it time for you to wait on something or is it time to move on? How does the pace of our life feel? What can you do to establish an enjoyable routine and healthy balance in this season of your life? And finally, what are the one or two changes you can make in order to get more in step with your God-given inner rhythms?” Geri Scazzero

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you cultivating the “ability to linger?” …to be quiet enough for long enough to sense what God is showing you about your life?
  • Have you been listening to your “inner rhythms?” …asking the kind of practical questions Scazzero suggests?
  • What changes can you make to the way you live to build in more lingering and listening?

Abba, I know not everything is fine, and that you can show me where change is needed. Help me to listen for that.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Desert Spirituality (Belden Lane, Bruce Berger and David Douglas)

“The significance of desert and mountain is not who resides here, but what we ourselves have left behind in coming.” David Douglas

“One has to consider the surly, discourteous piety of the desert fathers and mothers. They were ‘resident aliens’ in a world that fostered gentility and comfort. They simply did not fit. As Bruce Berger observes, ‘the desert notoriously harbors the loner, the misfit, the only child.’ It attracts a people who are downwardly mobile, often cantankerous, ill at ease in polite society. Shun the city and all of it niceties, growled Jerome from his desert lair. His Christianity required the hard solace of open spaces. …The discipline of the desert was gradually acquired in the methodical weaving of palm fronds into mats and baskets, the practice of long exposure to desert loneliness, the reduction of everything in one’s life to a radical simplicity. Growth in the spiritual life came to be measured in microparameters, in how much could be give up, how much one could be emptied. …To use the provocative language of Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, the desert Christians understood the church as an alien community no longer caught up in the anxious, self-interested preservation of the world-as-it-is. Their practice of indifference to the dominant social values of their age, exercised from the desert’s edge, stood in stark contract to the accommodating spirit of post-Constantinian, urban Christianity. …The desert as metaphor is that uncharted terrain beyond the edges of the seemingly secure and structured world in which we take such confidence, a world of affluence and order we cannot image ever ending. …[People like these desert fathers and mothers] are what the church has been summoned to be, a community of broken people, painfully honest, undomesticated, rid of the pretense and suffocating niceness to which ‘religion’ is so often prone.” Belden Lane

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers
to abstain from fleshly lusts
which wage war against the soul.”
1 Peter 2:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would anyone say of you that you are apathetic (indifferent) to many of your world’s values?
  • How dependent are you upon the “affluence and order” of our world for your sense of security?
  • These desert Christians viewed themselves as “aliens and strangers.” Would those words aptly describe you? …your faith community?
  • What are these desert Christians saying that you need to hear?

Abba, show me what to leave behind.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Desert and Mountain Spirituality by Belden Lane

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Silence Shall Be My Answer (Oswald Chambers, John Keats and and Thomas Merton)

“When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship, or a new friendship–when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question, then He begins to teach us. …Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.” Oswald Chambers

“Negative capability … is being capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” John Keats [In this regard] “I am reminded of a Zadie Smith quote on Shakespeare in her essay Speaking in Tongues, in which she praises Shakespeare for “understanding what fierce, singular certainty creates and what it destroys.” J. M. Coetzee

“Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and also disappear. In this hour I shall cease to ask them and silence shall be my answer.” Thomas Merton

“Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child with his mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you come to the place where (at least sometimes, in some measure) you can be “alone with God?”
  • Are you “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries [and] doubts?” …refusing to reach for the security of dualistic or binary thinking? …for the “security” of “fact and reason?”
  • How does certainty help you–what does it create for you? How does certainty hurt you–what does it destroy for you?

Abba, silence shall be my answer.

For More:  Entering the Silence by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Soldiering On In Ministry (Ruth Haley Barton)

“One of the occupational hazards for those of us in ministry is that it can become hard to distinguish between the times when we are ‘on’ and working for God and times when we can just be with God for our own soul’s sake. We might notice that Scripture has been reduced to a textbook or a tool for ministry rather than an intimate personal communication from God to us. Perhaps prayer has become an exhausting round of different kinds of mental activity or a public display of our spiritual prowess. When we repress what is real in our lives and just keep soldiering on, we get weary from holding it in and eventually it leaks out in ways that are damaging to ourselves and to others. Times of extended retreat give us a chance to come home to ourselves in God’s presence and to be with God with what is true about us in utter privacy. This is important for us and for those we serve. …on retreat there is time and space to attend to what is real in our own lives—to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed tears, sit with the questions, feel anger, attend to loneliness—and allow God to be with us in those places. These are not times for problem solving because not everything can be solved. On retreat we rest ourselves in God and wait on him to do what is needed and we return to the battle with fresh energy and keen insight.” Ruth Hayley Barton

“My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you living/working “for God” without spending time “with God?”
  • Are you emotionally and spiritually exhausted? …running on fumes? …ready to melt down, blow up or burn out?
  • Are you living/ministering out of a place of emptiness? … “a parched and weary land?”
  • If your answers are “yes” to these questions, you’re in a very dangerous place. Can you make some changes? If not, what does that mean?

Abba, may my life and ministry flow out of a cultivated intimacy with you. Only you can do what needs to be done.

For more: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: What People Need Most From Their Pastor (Ruth Haley Barton)

“Sabbath-keeping is the primary discipline that helps us to live within the limits of our humanity and to honor God as our Creator. It is the kingpin of a life lived in sync—with the rhythms that God himself built into our world—and yet it is the discipline that seems hardest for us to practice. Sabbath-keeping honors the body’s need for rest, the spirit’s need for replenishment, and the soul’s need to delight itself in God for God’s own sake. It begins with the willingness to acknowledge the limits of our humanness and then taking steps to live more graciously within the order of things. …There are limits to my relational, emotional, mental, and spiritual capacities…. I am not God. God is the only one who can be all things to all people. God is the only one who can be two places at once. God is the one who never sleeps. I am not. This is pretty basic stuff but many of us live as though we don’t know it. …There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our existence as human beings, physical and spiritual beings in a world of time and space. There is a peace that descends upon our lives when we accept what is real rather than always pushing beyond our limits. There is something about being gracious and accepting and gentle with ourselves at least once a week that enables us to be gracious and accepting and gentle with others. There is a freedom that comes from being who we are in God and resting into God that eventually enables us to bring something truer to the world than all of our doing. Sabbath-keeping helps us to live within our limits because on the Sabbath, in so many different ways, we allow ourselves to be the creature in the presence of our Creator. We touch something more real in ourselves and others than what we are all able to produce. We touch our very being in God. Surely that is what the people around us need most. – Ruth Haley Barton

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
He said this because there were so many people coming and going
that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
Mark 6:31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you “acknowledged the limits” of your humanity and taken steps to live within the order of things? What steps?
  • Can you “rest” in God? Can you be gentle with yourself?”
  • What message are you sending to others who observe your lifestyle?

Abba, ground me as I rest in you.

For More: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: I Hit the Bottom and Escape (Nicholas of Cusa, Scott Cairns and Teresa of Avila)

Beyond all knowing and unknowing, disregarding the pain, confusion and doubt, I cast myself into the Great Darkness, sinking down through its waters into the depths of the very depths. In that place answers, explanations and expectations–having indeed become irrelevant, irreverent and without usefulness, have ceased to exist. And I exist without them–resting, sinking, abiding in that Darkness. And beside me, abides the Unseen One. And in the presence of that One, I nearly cease to be. I enter a death barely short of death, and a well of life otherwise out of reach. Beyond the reach of words, with nothing to choose but stillness, with no support of any kind–save the invisible, unsensed loving arms of the Eternal One, I come to rest on the bottom. And whereas I would have expected my destruction and death, I instead find new breath, new space and new hope. O God, who is beyond and above all things, who draws near in mystery and confusion and in the coincidence of opposites–cradle me, renew me, deliver me.

“Hence I observe how needful it is for me to enter into the darkness, and to admit the coincidence of opposites, beyond all the grasp of reason, and there to seek the truth where impossibility meeteth me. …And the more that dark impossibility is recognised as dark and impossible, the more truly doth His Necessity shine forth, and is more unveiledly present and draweth nigh.” Nicholas of Cusa

“O Lover embracing all unlovable, O Teacher
Tether binding us together, and binding, yea
and tenderly, Your Person  to ourselves,
Being both beyond our ken, and kindred, One
whose dire energies invest such clay as ours
with patient animation, O Secret One secreting
life anew into our every tissue moribund,
afresh unto our stale and stalling craft,
grant in this obscurity a little light.”
Scott Cairns

“The people remained at a distance,
while Moses approached the thick darkness
where God was.”
Exodus 20:18-21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you experience God who is “far distant” and “most near?”
  • Can you go to that place beyond answers, explanations and expectations?
  • Do you have a way to simply be with God, where God can cradle you, deliver you and renew you?

“O LORD, Here in the gathering darkness I feel able to withstand the whole world, should it turn against me. For if I have you, God, I want for nothing. You alone suffice.” Teresa of Avila

For more: Idiot Psalms by Scott Cairns

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: God Will Use You Anyway (Brant Copeland, Joachim Neander and Thomas Chalmers)

“The striking thing about the Twelve is their utter lack of qualifications. …The fact is, by the time Luke takes up the story of the early church, most of the Twelve have become bit players. Peter has a supporting role, but it is Paul and James, the brother of Jesus–not members of the original Twelve–who take center stage in Acts while the Twelve dissolve into the wings. …What strikes this pastor is the close resemblance between the Twelve and the folks in ordinary congregations. The Twelve might not impress, but they sure do look like church. …It is through intimate, day-by-day association with Jesus that these twelve misfits become the twelve apostles. They do not cease to be what there are …–but after having been with Jesus, they are sent out with power and authority to accomplish amazing things (Mark 6:7-13).” Brant Copeland

The typical and first response to God’s call is often “I am not worthy.” Think of Moses or Isaiah–or of many people asked to lead in the local church. Are you weak and unqualified? God will use you anyway. Are you “who you are”, afraid you many never change, you may never overcome that “signature sin” of yours? God will use you anyway. Does your church, your missions group, your outreach team resemble a “bag of mixed nuts”–a phrase my Pastor sometimes affectionately uses to describe our church? God will use you anyway. But, the God of heaven, in all God’s power, won’t automatically use you. God won’t do what God expects you to do. You have to do your part–show up, leave your couch, forget your comfort zone. God won’t do it without you, but God will certainly do it through you. After all, mixed nuts is a very nutritious snack. It’s not everything. It’s not perfect. But it works. God won’t be limited by you and me and our abilities, bad habits, bad track record–even by our besetting sins. God uses what (who) is available. Are you available?

“Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee.

Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,

If with His love He befriend thee.”

Joachim Neander

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • On judgment day, if you could only be praised for one thing–correct doctrine, powerful ministry, or love for Jesus–which would you choose? What does your answer say about you?
  • The Apostles could get by without qualifications, but not without “being with Jesus.” They had to know him (not necessarily understand him!). They would be defined, motivated and empowered by their love for Jesus himself. Are you spending enough time with Jesus for this expulsive power (of affection for him) to be transformative for you?
  • Have you settled for having a proper understanding of Jesus (orthodoxy), or even for serving Jesus (ministry), when Jesus is calling you to a deep love relationship with him?

Jesus, you have befriended me in your love. Draw me deeper into a new affection for you.

For More: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers

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Thanks for reading and following my blog! – Bill
.
Having just returned from a local missions outreach to the homeless, I want to dedicate this post to the “bag of mixed nuts” I was part of in that outreach, and to New York City Relief, whose teams of mixed nuts do it every day.

Daily Riches: Where Busyness is a Fetish (Mark Buchanan, Marva Dawn, Eugene Peterson, Tim Keller and Pete Scazzero)

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still. Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God—actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God—the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.” Mark Buchanan

“A great benefit of Sabbath keeping is that we learn to let God take care of us—not by becoming passive and lazy, but in the freedom of giving up our feeble attempts to be God in our own lives.” Marva J. Dawn

“If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.” Eugene H. Peterson

“You cannot have a proper work theology unless you have a proper rest theology.” Tim Keller

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.’”
Isaiah 30:15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you positioned to receive what cannot be obtained by pursuing? What might you be missing because of busyness and hurry?
  • Are you gradually being freed from your “feeble attempts” to be God in your own life? Are you learning to let God take care of you?
  • Do you have a “rest theology?” Are you running on fumes? How often do you bring your “best self” to the task or relationship?
  • Is whatever you’re doing now helping you “to know God more deeply?” Why not block out a day soon to “stop, rest, delight and contemplate” (Pete Scazzero), and see what a difference that can make?

Abba, help me live my theology of rest.

For More: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. Please feel free to leave a comment or question. – Bill

Daily Riches – Publishing Changes

I’ve realized lately that it’s time for me to take a break from the daily publishing of this blog. I need to step back, rest, attend to some other things and other people, and give myself more time to live with the content before I publish it. I’ve resisted doing this for some time because of my love for the project, my sense of responsibility to my readers–and other things like ambition and worrying about what others would think–or how the project might lose momentum. I realize that I have to commit the fate of this project to God without regard to those things, and free up time to do more of what I have been writing about: loving well, resting and relaxing, slowing down, being less driven, and making space for contemplation. I always want this blog to be an overflow of what God is doing with me and never turn into something more like a deadline to meet. (It’s more work than I ever imagined to post something of quality six days a week.)

I’m still planning to write Daily Riches, but I’m afraid the name won’t fit so well anymore–not as far as the “Daily” part. I’m still going to post, but only when I want to, and when I can without interfering with the things I’m mentioned that need more attention. Maybe eventually, like after a sabbatical, I will return to the regular schedule. Thank you so much, faithful readers and new friends for your support–many of you have been reading almost since the beginning over two years ago. I hope you’ll still stay tuned for Riches that will come your way–albeit less frequently. And certainly, and especially if you’re a more recent subscriber, you may want to work through the archives. There’s a lot of great stuff there–most of it definitely worth reading more than one or two times. I still believe this project is important and unique, and I have really appreciated the support and feedback from many along the way.

Please pray for me in the meantime, and for the continuing influence and success of this project. As always, I wish the best for you, as you seek after God, and as God seeks after you.

Bill

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