Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Releasing, Dec 20
It’s tragic so that we can be so filled with knowledge and yet not know God. After Jesus was born, the wise men arrived in Jerusalem and asked about the coming king, the Messiah. The religious people in Jerusalem knew the answer. They knew the Bible verses. What they had missed is that Jesus had been born only six miles away in Bethlehem. Jesus had been born right under their noses and they missed it.
They were so busy that they missed God’s interjection of Himself into the world. We can get so busy that we miss all those moments every day when God is interjecting Himself into our world. Those who stop to notice see Him everywhere and experience Him in all things. Paul affirms this in Romans 8: “God works in all things for the good.”
It can be so difficult to see! Our hearts can be so full of “other things” and our perception clouded by our knowledge. In one sense, knowledge can actually blind us. The logic is this: if we know, then we can get busy doing what we see and choosing what we believe is right. However, God is right in front of us and all around us … desiring to be “with us” … and we miss Him. Anthony de Mello builds on this theme:
“The fact is that you are surrounded by God and yet you don’t see God, because you ‘know’ about Him. The final barrier to the vision of God is our God concept. You miss God because you think you know. That’s the terrible thing about religion. That’s what the Gospels were saying – that religious people ‘knew,’ so they got rid of Jesus. The highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable.”
Knowing God as unknowable puts us in a place of humility in which we slow down enough in our hearts, minds, and body to perceive Him. The paradox is striking. When we think we know, we miss Him. When we acknowledge that we do not know, we begin to see. Our knowledge has a place but it must be submitted our actual experience of and seeking of God in all things.
So, how do we live in this place of knowing that we don’t know? Let’s review our reflection over these first three weeks of Advent. We wait (because we don’t know), we listen (because we desire Him as opposed to simply knowing about Him), and we release (because we understand that we hold ideas and grudges and sin and selfishness in our hearts).
Waiting, listening, and releasing form a pattern for how we can approach our relationship with God. This pattern of prayer humbles us, softens us, and expands our ability to see and know Him. If we are going to “prepare Him room” as a lifestyle and not simply a lyrical response for a few weeks each year, this pattern must be woven into the fabric of our lives. Henri Nouwen suggests that:
“Becoming the beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am doing from hour to hour.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5, we find a verse that is both beautiful in its simplicity and perplexing in its challenge: “pray without ceasing.” The following verse says that this is God’s will for us. It is His desire, His heart for us. If we see prayer as a list of requests or a duty, then this command of God sounds burdensome. However, if we see it as God’s heart for us to know and experience Him throughout our day, then it is a powerful call to a different way of living. If we “know”, then prayer is a chore. If we “don’t know”, then prayer is an adventure into life of exploring and seeing Him in all things.
Today, experiment with “unceasing prayer.” Seek to stay in a place of connectedness with God. As you approach each element of your day (each conversation, each decision, each challenge), begin with simple waiting as you stop and acknowledge Him. Next, ask Him to speak into your situation and respond with listening. Finally, respond with releasing as you let go of self and see Him.
Sound like it might slow down your day? Then, you’re getting the idea. To live in rhythm with God and His ways means slowing down. In our modern world, that sounds like quite a sacrifice and it is, but it is worth it. It is worth it because we stop missing all those moments each day when He is beautifully at work in us and through us and around us.
Begin your adventure “prayer without ceasing” by starting with a few things each day and grow from there. Take the prayer below and put it in your own words:
Father, I admit that I am a bundle of paradoxes. I want to live in You alone. I confess this is my deepest desire and yet I have other desires. Today, give me the courage to let go. Give me the strength to repent. Give me eyes to see those places of strength to which I cling that I might release all to You. Thank you for Your patience and grace and leading in my life. Enlarge my heart. Amen.