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I long to see Christ formed in me and in those around me. Spiritual formation is my passion. My training was under Dallas Willard at the Renovare Spiritual Formation Institute. One of my regular prayers is this: "This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak, and in the mouth of each who speaks unto me."

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Walking with the Spirit in This Present Age

A Testament of Devotion, Thomas R. Kelly, The Eternal Now and Social Concern

What is the Eternal Now? We live our lives at two levels simultaneously, the level of time and the level of the Timeless. They form one sequence, with a fluctuating border between them. Sometimes the glorious Eternal is in the ascendancy, but still we are aware of our daily temporal routine. Sometimes the clouds settle low and we are chiefly in the world of time, yet we are haunted by a smaller sense of Presence, in the margin of consciousness.

Instead of anxiety lest the future never yield all we have hoped, lest we fail to contribute our full stint before the shadows of the evening fall upon our lives, we only breathe a quiet prayer to the Now and say, "Stay, thou art so sweet." Instead of anxiety lest our past, our past defects, our long-standing deficiencies blight our well-intentioned future efforts, all our past sense of weakness falls away and we stand erect, in this holy Now, joyous, serene, assured, unafraid.

I am persuaded that religious people do not with sufficient seriousness count on God as an active factor in the affairs of the world. "Behold, I stand at the door hand knock," but too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter of effort to do something for God that they don't hear Him asking that He might do something through them.

Heaven's eternal Now within us makes us speak blasphemous things, for we seem to assume the prerogatives of God.

The fellowship is not founded upon a common subjective experience, like the fellowship of hay-fever sufferers! It is founded upon a common Object, who is known by them all to be the very Life within them. This is Reality which removes Quakerism from pure individualism and from pure subjectivism, as it is so commonly and so mistakenly interpreted.

Speaking of his openings Fox said he found that "they answered one another and answered the scriptures." There is a unity and coherence and rational continuity in the out-cropping guidances of Spirit-led men.

But in the sense of Presence some of the past nows of our time-now change their character entirely. Our old failures are so apt to paralyze us. The Eternal Now many counsel: "Undertake this." Our time-now says: "See what a weakling you proved yourself to be in an earlier case. Better not try it now." But the assurance of the Eternal Now is enough, as it should have been for Moses: "Surely I shall be with thee." Submit yourself to the Eternal Now and in peace serene, in the boldness of perfect faith, you can advance into miraculous living. Or, in the opposite direction, our time-now may say: "Do this. You are well prepared for it. Your education and training fit you, perhaps to teach, to preach, to counsel, to guide an enterprise. And if you don't , nobody will." But the Eternal Now in us may say: "Stay. Wait. Don't rely upon yourself. Don't think you can reason yourself into your obligation. Know you not I can raise up of these stones men better able to do this?"

The fluctuation between the Timeless and timed, the Eternal Now and the ribbon of temporal time seems to confuse many people. Really, I believe that when we are oriented toward the world as Kelly has said earlier, both hating it and loving it, when we see that nothing matters and everything matters, we can navigate the fluctuation between the Eternal Now and our normal ribbon of time.

Practically speaking, I have only surfed that wave on occasion when God was right with me and the winds were favorable. I think I learn much from Ignatius who instructed us to just do the opposite of what the devil wants and thus you will find God. Loving the world in the wrong way leads to lust and pride. Hating the world in the wrong way leads to pride and anger. Humility may be the only way to despise what I should despise and have compassion for the world.

Truly, such navigation keeps me in the guiding light of God. Without the humility to seek justice and love mercy, that is, to justly avoid and restrain what is evil and embrace and show kindness to what is needy, I will not hear God when he speaks or follow his light where it leads.

Some important anchors to hold me in the Eternal Now: God stands before me now and always, I will know wisdom and companionship by its similarity to the Life inside me, sometimes I will think myself presumptuous as I follow, and such occasions will answer each other and answer the scriptures.

Lord, may your Spirit be always present, always now to me.  Help me to walk with humility and kindness in this world, guided by your Spirit alone.  Without your Spirit, I am lost.  Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this -- much appreciated!