Daily Riches: When the Darkness Descends (Barbara Brown Taylor and Gerald May)

“John’s answer [John of the Cross] is not simple, but in the simplest possible terms, he says that the dark night is God’s best gift to you, intended for your liberation. It is about freeing you from your ideas about God, your fears about God, your attachment to all the benefits you have been promised for believing in God, your devotion to the spiritual practices that are supposed to make you feel closer to God, your dedication to doing and believing all the right things about God, your positive and negative evaluations of yourself as a believer in God, your tactics for manipulating God, and your sure cures for doubting God. All of these are substitutes for God, John says. They all get in God’s way. The late Gerald May, who wrote his own book about John, called them addictions. In many cases, he said, we should give thanks for them, because it is our addiction to some God substitute or another that finally brings us to our knees, by helping us to realize how far we have strayed from our heart’s true desire.  …Those who have come through dark nights of their own, not just once but over and over again, often cannot find the words to say why they would not trade those nights for anything. ‘Yes, they were nights of great loss. Yes, the soul suffered from fearful subtraction. Yes, a great emptiness opened up where I had stored all my spiritual treasures, and yet.’ And yet what? ‘And yet what remained when everything else was gone was more real than anything I could have imagined. I was no longer apart from what I sought; I was part of it, or in it. I’m sorry I can’t say it any better than that, There was no place else I wanted to be.’” Barbara Brown Taylor

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God
shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator
in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:19

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see pain, loss and confusion as experiences God uses to make you more mature, loving, wise?
  • Is it possible that in your life, your family, your nation–God is taking away idols, false assumptions, the sense of control–so that some profound “emptiness” can open up for you and others?
  • The Biblical idea that one must go down to go up (downward mobility) is commonplace. As you read these words, do you feel like you’re “going down” (perhaps “for the count”)? Can you trust God in that now, even though you’re hurting and confused?

Abba, meet me in my pain. Shape me. Better me.

For more: Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Wilderness Times (Barbara Brown Taylor, Terry Tempest Williams, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Richard Rohr and Ben Johnson)

“He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity. Heaven prepares good men with crosses.” Ben Johnson

“Popular religion focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know the first thing about the spiritual fruits of failure. When we fall ill, lose our jobs, wreck our marriages, or alienate our children, most of us are left alone to pick up the pieces. Even those of us who are ministered to by brave friends can find it hard to shake the shame of getting lost in our lives. And yet if someone asked us to pinpoint the times in our lives that changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times.” Barbara Brown Taylor

“If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide and so we are found.” Terry Tempest Williams

“No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.” Richard Rohr

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have the events of your life ever led you into a “wilderness?” …into a kind of “descent?”
  • Did you make discoveries there? …about yourself? …about your God? Was it transformative? If not, why not?
  • Are you so willing for God to change you and shape you that you can be thankful for wilderness times?

Abba, thank you for meeting me in the wilderness.

For More: An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

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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 share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. 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: Waiting As Receiving the Future From God (Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Edwin Robertson)

“A longing emerges within us, which will not be silenced, a longing that all should be fulfilled amidst all the failures and against all the evidence, yet, we protest its fulfillment all the stronger. This is a waiting within us for nothing less than that this world will be redeemed through and through—not by this or that political means, but by God. When God himself comes to us, then Advent truly begins to become real. When we see all our hopes and dreams shattered by questioning, by fruitless efforts and failures, when the narrowness of our existence wounds us; when suddenly we are tormented by the thought that all is lost and fallen into oblivion; and when the cry is wrenched from us: ‘Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down”’ (Isaiah 64:1), then perhaps we can understand what the Bible means by ‘waiting.’ …Thus we live today under the shadow of his coming, not some dreaded disaster or some fate, but the coming of the God of justice, of love, and of peace. Not finding our own way to God into the future, but receiving the future from God. We know that we cannot go to God, but God comes to us, enfolding us in his unbelievable grace, otherwise our life is lost, and our waiting is in vain. We can only wait, watchfully wait; that means patiently waiting, totally deaf to those who would sow doubts in our mind, blind to every power that stands between us and that future which God wills for us. One thing is needful: the conviction that we shall see God, we shall hear God, we shall receive God, we shall know God, we shall serve God. In some incomprehensible way, God will—otherwise nothing, absolutely nothing else, counts.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.”
Isaiah 64:1
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Can you wait in such a way that you’re “deaf to those who would sow doubts in your mind?”
  • While you wait can you be “blind to every power that stands between you and that future which God wills for you?”
  • Can you wait, confident of the fact that “God will” – and counting on “absolutely nothing else?”

Abba, every day I’m waiting for the future you have for me.

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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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. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: Trust the Fruitive Darkness (Leonard Sweet and John Donne)

“Churches are best for Prayer, that have least light:
To see God only, I goe out of sight:
And to scape stormy dayes,
I chuse An everlasting night.”
John Donne
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“The first step to seeing is knowing that you’re in the dark. If you don’t know you’re in the dark, then you need to turn on the dark. To turn on the dark is a metaphor for keeping an open mind, for resisting easy assumptions and automatic defaults in judgment, all of which I call light pollution. Less is more. Sensory deprivation is a blessing to those who need less distraction. Light can pollute dark, just as the dark can pollute the light. …In order to see the stars, it must be dark enough to see them. … [but] The brightest stars in the sky no longer come from the Milky Way Galaxy, but the night glow from our biggest cities. It’s called ‘sky glow’—light reflected off moisture and dust in the air. …In some Eastern cities like Seoul, South Korea, at night all the buildings ‘go dark.’ No matter how high the apartment complex or skyscraper, it is dark, enabling anyone awake to see the stars. But for most of the world, sky glow now outshines the moon for nearly half of each month. The biological effects of night pollution are only now being appreciated. Ninety miles from Las Vegas, the neon lights are lighting up Death Valley National Park. Many of the night creatures are dying because of light pollution. Certain nocturnal species and ecosystems require a nightly dose of darkness—for reproduction (snakes), for predation (bats), for food intake (zooplankton feed on algae in the dark), for growth and survival. Without dark they face extinction. …Darkness is the womb in which everything exists. To trust the dark is to trust those deep, underground forces—forces of the earth, the ocean, the genes—that would bring to life the seed that is your soul. God planted deep into the ground of your being the seeds of a one-of-a-kind soul. To grow our souls into the unique creation God intends us to be, we must trust the birthing that is going on inside and around us. We must trust the ‘fruitive darkness.’” Leonard Sweet

“And I will give thee
the treasures of darkness”
Isaiah 45:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you know you’re in the dark?
  • Are you able to trust the “fruitive darkness” at work in our world and your life?
  • How specifically would you do that?

Abba, help me discover the treasures of darkness.

For More: Nudge by Leonard Sweet

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thank you for reading and sharing my blog!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Soul in Darkness (William Cowper and Mother Teresa)

“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”  “Darkness is such that I really do not see – neither with my mind nor with my reason – the place of God in my soul is blank – There is no God in me – when the pain of longing is so great – I just long and long for God. … The torture and pain I can’t explain.” Mother Teresa

“The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow;
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine
A contrite heart or no?

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If aught is felt, ’tis only pain,
To find I cannot feel.

I sometimes think myself inclined
To love Thee if I could;
But often feel another mind,
Averse to all that’s good.

My best desires are faint and few,
I fain would strive for more;
But when I cry, ‘My strength renew!’
Seem weaker than before.

Thy saints are comforted, I know,
And love Thy house of prayer;
I therefore go where others go,
But find no comfort there.

Oh make this heart rejoice or ache;
Decide this doubt for me;
And if it be not broken, break –
And heal it, if it be.”
William Cowper

“Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:23-26

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever felt like the Christian faith worked for others but not for you?
  • Do you know how to “keep on” as one who “belongs to God” no matter what darkness may come?
  • Are you learning in the light, what you will need to know when darkness inevitably comes?

Abba, my heart, if it be not broken, break – and heal it, if it be. And may you be the strength of my heart even when my health fails and my spirit grows weak.

For More: Before the Door of God by Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, eds.

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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 and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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