Thursday, June 8, 2017

Seeking God again

Disgusted with myself again, my carnal nature which has been dominating me for so long.  I need to give up debating.  It penetrates my thick skull from time to time that  God does not want me to succeed at it and what that means is that He has other plans in mind.  He's more interested in my spiritual progress than anything I can do through my mind. 

So back I go to the holiness writers, who have often been able to lift me out of carnality and worldliness.  Not always.  I may spend a few days seeking God in earnest and then fall back to what the holiness people call soulishness. 

It doesn't help that theologically the holiness people are spiritually descended from John Wesley when theologically I'm a Calvinist, but I am nevertheless drawn to the intense spirituality of the Wesleyans which I think can be appreciated despite the theological problems.

In any case they do lift me, they convict me of my sins and lead me back to a yearning after God and the things of God which is what I keep losing when I focus on debate and politics.  

So I've been reading G. D. Watson most recently, who convicts me of avoiding God's chastisements, or avoiding the cross, the afflictions He sends me to mortify the flesh. 

I was reminded of John of the Cross's poem, the Dark Night of the Soul so I looked it up.  How strange that it is frequently so completely misunderstood, used to describe a kind of suffering when it is anything but that.  It is a description of the soul's ascent to God made possible by the subduing of our carnal nature.   The "dark night" is that quieting, the shutting off of distractions of the world and the flesh, to allow the fuller opening of the spirit to the realms of God. 

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

Kindled in love with yearnings -- oh happy chance!  That line alone should disabuse people of the mistake of confusing the dark night with any; kind of suffering.  It's clearly a state of spiritual joy, yearning after God, set free from the clamorings of the carnal nature, which is depicted as a house now at rest.  Quiet, subdued.  In that dark night of the carnal nature and the physical senses, the spirit is opened to God, the soul's yearnings are lifted from the earth to the heavenly realms.  The spirit now goes forth in secret, unobserved, to a love tryst with God.

This is where the holiness writers lead us when we let them. 

When Jesus tells us we are to die to self, to take up our cross, He is giving us the means by which we can transcend the carnal nature in order to experience God.  The flesh must be subdued, sin must be mortified but also the self life, which otherwise ties us to the world and earthliness.  Dying to self hurts, it is an affliction that is good for us but it nevertheless hurts, and if we fight it we only deprive ourselves of what the Christian life is al about -- the recovery of the spiritual life of connectedness to God Himself which was lost at the Fall.

I've been fighting it.  I want to stop.

More later

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