Sunday, January 08, 2006

What Question Leads Me to the True Fires of the Spirit?

The times I feel most lost are the times when I'm asking the wrong questions.

So many get caught up in the details, the language, this set of beliefs or that - it's an easy trap to fall into. But what are these details but worldly, outward things to be caught up in? What question is being asked that leads to disputes over such things? If we are so concerned about what detail is correct or which words should or should not be used, or even who is right and who is wrong, are we really asking the right question? Instead of being caught up in these outward details, why don't we get caught up in the true Spirit?

How am I called to live?

Living the deeper question transcends the details, including the words I used to feebily communicate a deeper, wordless seeking in my heart.

I find that when I am most grounded, most centered, my life is not at all about the details. In fact details arising from questions as important as "do I consider myself Christian?", or "how do I feel about the war?" become irrelevant when I am closest to the Spirit. My faith experience is not about figuring out or defending these details, the exact answer to these questions. My faith is about listening to the Spirit, discerning and following my deepest leadings as well as I am able at every moment. It is the question behind all, it is the seeking that gives rise to all the answers to any relevent question that needs to be answered.

How am I called to live?

From a William Penn lecture delivered by Thomas Kelley, Holy Obedience:

The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child. It is the life and power in which the prophets and apostles lived. It is the life and power of Jesus of Nazareth, who knew that "when thine eye is single thy whole body is full of light" (Luke 11:34). It is the life and power of the apostle Paul, who resolved not to know anything among men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is the life and power of Saint Francis, that little poor man of God who came nearer to reliving the life of Jesus than has any other man on earth. It is the life and power and utter obedience of John Woolman who decided, he says, "to place my whole trust in God," to "act on an innter Principle of Virture, and pursue worldly business no farther than as Truth opened my way therein." It is the life and power of myriads of unknown saints through the ages. It is the life and power of some people now in this room who smile knowingly as I speak. And it is the life and power that can break forth in this tottering Western culture and return the Church to its rightful life as a fellowship of creative, heaven-led souls.

Penn, of course, came from a Christocentric perspective, giving examples from the Christian tradition, but the meaning goes beyond those words. The life that follows the deepest callings of the Spirit has a "simplicity of a trusting child". It is not about who is right and who is wrong, for to concern one's life over such a matter is to live beside the point, lost in the wrong questions.

I mean not to discredit current inward and outward struggles. If a detail strikes me in a way that makes me bristle or uncomfortable, I try to examine what it is that makes me react to it so - often it is my outward self, distracted. I instead try to truly listen to the message
behind the detail. Healthy dialogue is important, so long as we don't lose sight of the real Purpose.

When I feel lost, I need to instead ask what question leads me to a deeper Reality, what question leads me to the true fires of the Spirit?

Love and Light,


Blogger Nancy A said...

Ah, a blog about asking questions! We are a culture obsessed with answers. But an answer is an answer only if there is a question.

I remember in my university days being so impressed with the students who could ask a zinger question, one that cut through all the babble to the heart of the matter, to the very amorphous thing I was not understanding. It takes a keen mind to know what it doesn't know.

Evangelicals say, "Jesus is the answer." But "tuna is the answer" too, to a different question. The question is key. It's the map. The answer is the destination.

One of my favourite topics. Thanks for asking.

9/1/06 3:44 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

I appreciate the wisdom of this post and the eldership that its messenger offers through it.

I find myself caught, in a good way, in these related questions:

How am I called?


How are WE called?

Just as Nancy A. points out that "we are a culture obsessed with answers," I would say we [Americans, at least] are a culture obsessed with the individual. But as Friends, we have a multigenerational history of considering the corporate response to a question, too.

Thanks, Claire.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

9/1/06 10:53 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

How am I called?


How are WE called?

Both very important questions to keep in mind. Also - What question leads US to the true fires of the Spirit?

Corporate and individual experiences are both vital pieces of the Big Picture.

Thanks Liz!

Love and Light,

10/1/06 11:58 AM  

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