Daily Riches: Experiencing God’s Experience of Me (Alan Jones, Jürgen Moltmann and Abraham Heschel)

[Jürgen Moltmann encourages us to ask] ‘How do I experience God? What does God mean for me? How am I determined by him?’; but also ask these questions in reverse. ‘How does God experience me? What do I mean for God? How is God determined by me?’ This is not to say that the relationship between God and us is a reciprocal one between equals; rather that for a relationship to be a relationship at all, it much be a two-way affair.’ The question, ‘How does God experience me?’ Suggests a fresh way to look at ourselves and our way of being in the world. What is God’s experience of me? God’s experience of me must seem strange, disappointing, amusing, hurtful, and occasionally delightful. Once the initial question has been entertained by the believer, its effects go on reverberating in the soul. Because I am capable of reflection and self-transcendence (I can go beyond myself), I can also experience God’s experience of me. I can ‘see’ what I am like from God’s point of view. I can learn to know myself in the mirror of God’s love, suffering, and joy. When I reflect on how God experiences me I begin to learn more about myself; and the more I understand God’s experience of me and my world, the more deeply the mystery of God’s passion comes home to me.” Alan Jones

“The pages of the prophetic writings are filled with echoes of divine love and disappointment, mercy and indignation. The God of Israel is never impersonal This divine pathos is the key to inspired prophecy.” Abraham Heschel

“I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.”
Hosea 11:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you had to put it into words, how would you describe God’s experience of you?
  • Can you attempt to look at yourself from God’s eyes? Can you allow yourself to see yourself “in the mirror of God’s love?”
  • Do you think of what you do as either bringing joy or pain to the heart of God?

Abba, only one with your heart could love me as you do.

For More: Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality by Alan Jones

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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 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: Delighting With the God Who Delights in You (James Martin, C. S. Lewis and Anthony de Mello)

“To please God … to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness … to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible … but so it is.” C. S. Lewis

We may pour out our grief to God, or come with our requests. “But there is more to a relationship than that. Praying solely in this way would be like having a friendship whose only purpose was to enable you to ask for things. So besides lamenting to God and asking God for things, there is another way of being with God – and that is joyfully. …St. Ignatius encourages people to imagine themselves alongside Jesus. It’s different than imagining yourself with God, who is often imagined more as a ‘presence.’ Imagining yourself with Jesus means something more specific. …This may mean something as simple as sitting joyfully with [Jesus] in prayer and imagining [Jesus] sitting joyfully with you. …laugh with the God who smiles when seeing you, rejoices over your very existence, and takes delight in you, all the days of your life. …In his book Armchair Mystic, Mark Thibodeaux, a Jesuit spiritual writer, distinguishes between four stages of prayer. The first is talking at God (which includes petitionary prayer, that is, asking for help). The second is talking to God (which includes expressing your feelings and emotions, frustrations and hopes to God). The third is listening to God (a more contemplative way of reflecting on what is going on in your daily life as well as being attentive to the inner movements of your soul during prayer). The final way is being with God (this is closer to ‘centering prayer,’ a prayer of presence). …One of my favorite suggestions for a meditation is Anthony deMello’s statement: ‘Look at God looking at you … and smiling.’ DeMellos’ image is essentially an invitation into a prayer of joy and contentment, into what you might call private, one-on-one time with a smiling God, into seeing the world the way that God does.” James Martin

“you are … God’s special possession”
1 Peter 2:9

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • “Do you think of Jesus as “smiling?” …smiling at you?
  • …rejoicing in you, like an artist in her work? like a mother in her son?
  • Are you able to simply “be with God?” …focusing on being “present” to him?

Abba, let me taste more of your love.

For More: Armchair Mystic by Mark Thibodeaux

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks 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)

Daily Riches: Fear of God, Fascination with God (Richard Rohr and Rudolph Otto)

“In his book The Idea of the Holy, Rudolph Otto says that when someone has an experience of the Holy, they find themselves caught up in two opposite things at the same time: the mysterium tremendum and the mysterium fascinosum, or the scary mystery and the alluring mystery. We both draw back and are pulled forward into a very new space. In the mysterium tremendum, God is ultimately far, ultimately beyond – too much, too much, too much (Isaiah 6:3). It inspired fear and drawing back. Many people never get beyond this first half of the journey. If that is the only half of holiness you experience, you experience God as dread, as the one who has all the power, and in whose presence you are utterly powerless. Religion at this initial stage tends to become overwhelmed by a sense of sinfulness and separateness. The defining of sin and sin management becomes the very nature of religion…. Simultaneously with the experience of the Holy as beyond and too much is another sense of fascination, allurement, and seduction, a being pulled into something very good and inviting and wonderful or the mysterium fascinosum. It’s a paradoxical experience. Otto says if you don’t have both, you don’t have the true or full experience of the Holy.” Richard Rohr

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes,
rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
Romans 8:31-34

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you embrace both the “scary mystery” and the “alluring mystery?” Can you resist the temptation to simply things by eliminating either the push or the pull?
  • Have you experienced God both as “too much” and as inviting-wonderful? Are you open to “the full experience?”
  • Have you settled for fear and dread (fixated on your unworthiness)? Can you allow yourself to be “fascinated” and “invited” into something wonderful with God (in spite of your unworthiness) – because of what Christ has done for you?

Abba, help me not to simplify what is complicated in my relationship with you.

For More: The Idea of the Holy by Rudolph Otto

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“Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks 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.  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: A Dialogue of Love That Never Stops (Thomas Merton and Elizabeth of the Trinity)

“This is the real end of meditation – it teaches you how to become aware of the presence of God; and most of all it aims at bringing you to a state of almost constant loving attention to God, and dependence on Him. [It teaches] …a man how to work himself free of created things and temporal concerns, in which he finds only confusion and sorrow, and enter into a conscious and loving contact with God….” Thomas Merton

“I love to penetrate beyond the veil of the soul to this inner sanctuary where we live alone with God. He wants us entirely to himself, and is making there within us a cherished solitude. Listen to everything that is being sung … in his heart. It is Love, the infinite love that envelops us and desires to give us a share … in all his blessedness. The whole Blessed Trinity dwells in us, the whole of that mystery which will be our vision in heaven. Let it be our cloister. You tell me that your life is passed there. So is mine. I am ‘Elizabeth of the Trinity’ – Elizabeth disappearing, losing herself, allowing herself to be invaded by the Three. Let us live for love, always surrendered, immolating ourselves at every moment, by doing God’s will without searching for extraordinary things. Then let us make ourselves quite tiny, allowing ourselves to be carried, like a babe in it’s mother’s arms, by him who is our all…. In the morning let us wake in Love. All day long let us surrender ourselves to Love, by doing the will of God, under his gaze, with him, in him, for him alone…. And then, when evening comes, after a dialogue of love that has never stopped in our hearts, let us go to sleep still in love. And if we are aware of any faults, let us simply abandon them to Love, which is a consuming fire….” Elizabeth of the Trinity

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine….”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine giving “constant loving attention to God?  … living a day under (and aware of) his gaze?
  • What are you doing to become more aware of God’s presence in your day? …to become less aware of “temporal concerns?” … to be better at “attending” to him?
  • Can you simply abandon yourself and your faults to Love?

Abba, before I die, may I experience at least one day under your gaze, with you, in you alone, where a dialogue of love between us never stops.

For More: Voices of the Saints by Bert Bhezzi

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Divine Gaze (Kathleen Norris) *

Jacob’s theophany, his dream of angels on a stairway to heaven, strikes me as an appealing tale of unmerited grace. Here’s a man who has just deceived his father and cheated his brother out of an inheritance. But God’s response to finding Jacob vulnerable, sleeping all alone in open country, is not to strike him down for his sins but to give him a blessing. …Jacob’s exclamation is … a reminder that God can choose to dwell everywhere and anywhere we go. One morning this past spring I noticed a young couple with an infant at an airport departure gate. The baby was staring intently at other people, and as soon as he recognized a human face, no matter whose it was, no matter if it was young or old, pretty or ugly, bored or happy or worried-looking he would respond with absolute delight. It was beautiful to see. Our drab departure gate had become the gate of heaven. And as I watched that baby play with any adult who would allow it, I felt awe-struck as Jacob, because I realized that this is how God looks at us, staring into our faces in order to be delighted, to see the creature he made and called good, along with the rest of creation. And, as Psalm 139 puts it, darkness is as nothing to God, who can look right through whatever evil we’ve done in our lives to the creature made in the diving image.” Kathleen Norris

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,
‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.
…How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God,
and this is the gate of heaven.”
Genesis 28:16-17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The “God of Jacob” is, of necessity, a God of grace. What feelings arise when you consider that “the God of Jacob” is your God? (Psalm 46)
  • God gazes “into our faces in order to be delighted.” What feelings does God intend for you as you ponder this?
  • Imagine how an infant gazes at you, or your child going off to war, or your spouse as you’re taken into surgery. Now imagine God gazing at you. Feel it, don’t analyse it.

Abba, please never hide from me the light of your face.

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For More:  Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris

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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: “Practicing the Presence” (Peter Scazzero and Thomas Merton)

“As emotionally mature Christian adults, we recognize that loving well is the essence of true spirituality. This requires that we experience connection with God, with ourselves, and with other people. God invites us to practice his presence in our daily lives. At the same time, he invites us “to practice the presence of people,” within an awareness of his presence, in our daily relationships. The two are rarely brought together. Jesus’ profound, contemplative prayer life with his Father resulted in a contemplative presence with people. Love is ‘to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves,’ wrote Jean Vanier. Jesus did that with each person he met. We see this in his interaction with the woman with a twelve year bleeding problem in Mark 5. This ability to really listen and pay attention to people was at the very heart of his mission. It could not help but move him to compassion. In the same way, out of our contemplative time with God, we too, are invited to be prayerfully present to people, revealing their beauty to themselves. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the ‘church leaders’ of that time, never made that connection.” Peter Scazzero

“Our contemplative practice is a ‘laboratory’ in which we learn to die to our passing emotions and thoughts and to receive the always-permanent Divine gaze. The rest of our life becomes the field in which we live out this participation in Love, bouncing back the gaze of grace to the Other and then having plenty left over for all others besides.” Richard Rohr

“But the goal of our instruction is love….” 1 Timothy 1:5

Moving From Head to Heart

  • When you think of the “essence of true spirituality”, to you think first of “loving well?”
  • Does being “present” to God make you more effective at being “present” to others?  and vice versa? Does either increase your compassion?
  • Is your love for others what is “left over” from your “participation in Love” with God?
  • Have you tried a contemplative approach to your faith? If not, what is stopping you?

Abba, teach me to receive and return your loving gaze as a starting point in being a person who loves.

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For More: The Daily Office by Peter Scazzero

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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. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Divine Gaze (Kathleen Norris)

Jacob’s theophany, his dream of angels on a stairway to heaven, strikes me as an appealing tale of unmerited grace. Here’s a man who has just deceived his father and cheated his brother out of an inheritance. But God’s response to finding Jacob vulnerable, sleeping all alone in open country, is not to strike him down for his sins but to give him a blessing. …Jacob’s exclamation is … a reminder that God can choose to dwell everywhere and anywhere we go. One morning this past spring I noticed a young couple with an infant at an airport departure gate. The baby was staring intently at other people, and as soon as he recognized a human face, no matter whose it was, no matter if it was young or old, pretty or ugly, bored or happy or worried-looking he would respond with absolute delight. It was beautiful to see. Our drab departure gate had become the gate of heaven. And as I watched that baby play with any adult who would allow it, I felt awe-struck as Jacob, because I realized that this is how God looks at us, staring into our faces in order to be delighted, to see the creature he made and called good, along with the rest of creation. And, as Psalm 139 puts it, darkness is as nothing to God, who can look right through whatever evil we’ve done in our lives to the creature made in the diving image.” Kathleen Norris

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,
‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.
…How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God,
and this is the gate of heaven.”
Genesis 28:16-17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The “God of Jacob” is, of necessity, a God of grace. What feelings arise when you consider that “the God of Jacob” is your God? (Psalm 46)
  • God gazes “into our faces in order to be delighted.” What feelings does God intend for you as you ponder this?
  • Imagine how an infant gazes at you, or your child going off to war, or your spouse as you’re taken into surgery. Now imagine God gazing at you. Feel it, don’t analyse it.

Abba, please never hide from me the light of your face.

__________

For More:  Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris

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Thanks for your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)