Two Short Pieces from 2001 – 2
Mental Conviction and Complacency
By Fred Pruitt
(As happens often, I ran into these pieces this morning looking for other things. Both are from 2001 and from emails sent to the Buntings from me. They were probably sent out with my sendouts back then, but I had lost track of them. When I found them, I thought, “Oh how appropriate to post these now!” Of course I’ve updated them a bit. Here is the first below. On the blog, to see Part 1 scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the left arrow.)
“There are no levels. Any moment can break through to the underlying unity that is God’s gift in Christ.” (Thomas Merton)
That’s from the Merton quote I sent you a couple of weeks ago. In the sense of personal “experience” there may be no deeper truth than what Merton has expressed here. We keep wanting to categorize everybody, to measure progress or success, but the real truth is Christ is All in all, in all. There are no step by step gradual levels of Christ-ness. No, from the beginning, it’s the WHOLE Christ, and we are WHOLE in Him! What “grows” is our consciousness of Him, not the reality.
In the Spirit no one is greater and no one is lesser in the sense that each are indwelled and in the Spirit of the Living Christ, Who is the Same Christ in all. We differ in other ways, but each of us in Him may tap fully into the Holy of Holies, which is not some big temple mega church kind of thing, where we might go hoping to “see” the Shekinah Glory, but the real tapping into the Holy of Holies and Shekinah Glory that is the inner Truth of every one of us who are in Christ and He in us. Jesus prayed not only would we be “one” with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in John Chapter 17, He prayed we would partake of the SAME GLORY which the Godhead shared in itself, i.e., the Shekinah Glory. Don’t go off seeking some “experience” somewhere! What you are looking for is in you!
I was re-reading that quote from Merton tonight and it just jumped off the page at me. Life for me, as I was expressing at your house today, has been workaday, regular, run-of-the-mill living, no great stresses, no great joys, like I said, “even keel.”
God is continually “Mr.-Surprise-‘caught-you-off-guard-didn’t-I?’” [I] reckon He’s got to be that way, since we’ve learned the universe is an ever-expanding outflow of His Freedom. New Divine Life comes with each new Divine Day from Him in Whom we know is “no shadow of turning.” Whereas the enemy is “old hat,” never having anything new to bring to the table, the Living God is continually proving His “no shadow of turning” by demonstrating the absolute TOTALITY OF HIS GRACE in every living moment. From the first moment until now we continually learn we cannot thwart His love, nor do we ever escape the wonder of “This is TOO GOOD to be TRUE!” (“What” is??? — HE IS!!!)
In the past I think I’ve probably related ad nauseum to some, how He is there even in our hells. We start learning that early on. This time, however, He caught me off guard by being there in what I was considering to be “my” complacency. It’s one thing to be in such deep pain that the pain itself is a “sense” of God. It is quite another thing to “feel” pretty much nothing. Feeling “nothing,” at best, is suspect. However, rather than seeing my feeling of complacency as being at rest or peaceful because my systems are not taxed at the moment, it becomes a favorite haunt in which the enemy loves to heap piles and piles of condemnation on us.
“Surely here,” the voice says (he’s never original), “there is no place for God!” “Look at you, you aren’t even interested anymore. Boy, you’re outside it all now! Last week you were on fire, but today, you couldn’t care less. You might as well forget the whole thing.”
“Hmmmm,” I wonder, “What changed???” Last week I saw Christ everywhere in all things and today I don’t seem to give a hoot about anything and I don’t even seem to care that that’s the case!” Of course it seems to me the voice is correct, and I think, “Surely God doesn’t want anything to do with me.”
The funny thing is, I didn’t wake up one day and just decided to “feel complacent.” I just woke up and I was – how did that happen?
Here, again, is this inexpressible Freedom from the depths of the Living God being lived out in this present moment. In God there is no stone unturned, no possibility ignored, no state of existence denied – so that everywhere in All things, He can be seen as the underlying Truth of everything that IS …. once again, that wonderful prayer from the 1928 Episcopal Prayerbook, “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty that we should at ALL TIMES and in ALL PLACES give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everliving God!” The unchangeableness, the “no shadow of turning” of God is seen in the multitudinous variety of everything that IS, reflecting the ONE LOVE and ONE LIGHT that shines through and permeates everything. Waves go up and down on the surface, but the sea remains the same in its depths.
That “voice” I spoke of above is sort of a buddy — you know why? Because he makes me “buck up!” He thwarts his own purposes by the design of Him Who works all things after the counsel of His own will. How does he thwart his own stated purposes of stealing, killing and destroying? First of all, by “pretending” that he sent the “hell” or the “complacency,” or, more subtly, by hinting in my mind that “I” caused this, by something “I” said or “I” did or “I” believed. But no, of course not, silly voice, the Living God has not forsaken His broken and prepared vessel (me, or you, fill in the blank). HE IS the author & finisher, and has firmly bound the sacrifice (me, or you again in the afflictions of Christ), with cords to the horns of the altar. He isn’t going anyhere, and neither is the body He has prepared and bound to the horns of the altar. He will see it through! As we have said before, if the Father is sending us into death, either figurative or physically real, He comes and takes the “death” in us – we do not bear it alone, even though it feels to us just as it did to Jesus on the Cross. Sometimes it feels like, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken Me?” But Jesus knew inwardly that He had not, and so do we!
“There are no levels. Any moment can break through to the underlying unity that is God’s gift in Christ.” I don’t know where this is going, I honestly don’t. But I am convinced God is leading His sons and daughters this day into abandoned freedom, where we know and trust in the absolute unchangeableness of the Living God demonstrated and manifested in seemingly ever changing human lives.
Why do I say “abandoned?” Because Life in the Spirit is like being in the wind, and we cannot flow with the wind if we have pockets of “reserve” or are saddled with “ought to do this,” or “ought not to do this.” We’re still in the grips of the law if that is where our mind dwells.
But we have learned not to dwell there. And at the same time we have learned that the fact that we FEEL something or nor do NOT FEEL something is only an indicator of ever-changing feelings, products of the soul, but not the real truth of the Spirit who is within.
When we see this, it is life changing and liberating. Why? It is because we spend the bulk of our waking hours in this vast sea of ever-changing feelings, all the while taking condemnation for all the “negative ones,” because we do not realize feelings are transient and NOT the real us! Simply because we have feelings does not mean anything other than the fact that we are having feelings. We cannot attach some moral or spiritual connotation to feelings, nor can we array them into acceptable and non-acceptable categories, and in some way learn to control them by our ability to categorize! We’ll spin our wheels for a thousand years trying that!
Ah, but what LIBERTY it is, if I wake up and “feel” complacent, but KNOWING He Who is in me never slumbers nor sleeps and is always vigilant and I am living in the peace of God which never changes in the deep middle of my being. This is the place out of which the Living Water flows, and it flows out of each of us in unique ways everyday through the facility of the faith of God within us.
(2 Cor 5:13-19)
“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
Paul says the “Word of reconciliation” has been committed unto us. How do we know this? We know it by experiencing “reconciliation” within ourselves on a daily basis in the topsy-turvy-roller-coaster-up-&-down-ness of our everyday lives. We learn the same principle we learned from Jesus when He said we are “in” the world but we are not “of” the world. We live “in” feelings but we are not “of” feelings!
Now, one last word about that. Feelings are real, not illusions. That is why I say we recognize them and embrace them, not meaning, in a spiritual sense, to “give in” to the feelings, but that in embracing them by acknowledging their existence, we find them “turned around” and their purpose becomes in that turnaround, a spurring on to faith, whereas the former way we saw them they were attempting to lead us into hopelessness and despair because we can never quit having these disturbing thoughts and feelings we think we shouldn’t have.
Whether we be “beside ourselves,” whether we be in the pits of hell, whether we feel like we could care less, we experience His reconciliation toward us in Christ, a “reconciliation” that originates not in our finite selves but in His infinite too-good-to-be-true-BUT-IT-IS-love, whose ONLY requirement is ACCEPTANCE in THIS present moment …. and that is where the “moment” breaks through to the underlying unity that is God’s gift in Christ.
I’ll end with a few good Scripture passages.
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” (2 Cor 1:4-6)
“All things come of Thee O Lord, and of thine own have we given Thee.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)..
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Freedom is to see ALL THINGS in Him – nothing excepted!