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Who Lets It Dwell In Him Richly

March 24, 2013

The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles at God’s word, who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it.

-J.I. Packer

Oh, let that be me.

Our bishop visited two weeks ago, and there are perhaps no better words for his visit than that he was a “Christian who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul.”  His very presence among us radiated love and peace.  Although we unfortunately did not record his sermon, it was the kind of proclamation of truth that hit my core and has seemed to reverberate in my life the past few weeks.  It was about knowing God, and knowing ourselves in relation to God, and grasping God’s immense view of our worth — so much so that he sacrificed his son for the sake of our adoption into his family.  I am paraphrasing poorly … but it was a beautiful time.

One of the things he said to us was about asking the question, regularly and contemplatively, “What is God doing?”  There are echoes of that in what I’ve been gleaning from Richard Rohr’s Everything Belongs … he recently wrote about “sacrifice and gratitude.”  … One of the areas that I’ve grown a lot in the past few years has been learning to sacrifice.  Slowly, methodically, and not without some pain, God & I have worked through those areas in which I still clutched tightly, refusing to relinquish to control.  I’ve been learning to hold life with open hands, an offering.  Because, as my father — a man of few words but very wise ones — once told me, “it’s all God’s, anyways.”

And I began to think that the next step, then, as Rohr says, is gratitude.  And how can we explore the depths of God’s work on this earth without being overwhelmed by gratitude?  To look for where God is working is to release my own perspectives — of selfishness, of control, of bitterness, of regret or fear or grief — and to ask to see through His.  I cannot enter honestly into this question — what is God doing? — without slowly molding my heart towards gratitude.  He is alive, and moving with power and love, in hearts all around me.  He is good to us, and how seldom do we stop and look for the abundant evidence of his goodness.

But then, Shane touched on something else today about this idea of looking for what God is doing.  He read another J.I. Packer quote — I don’t have it all — about how contemporary Christians don’t often talk about our experience of God, about what we see him doing.  It is one thing to look around, contemplate, meditate, and be grateful.  But it shouldn’t end there — our answer to that question, what is God doing?, should so ground us and live in us that it overflows, and we are free to talk about it, and ask about it, and draw one another deeper into that authentic community that comes from being the adopted children of God.  It’s one thing to merely learn about the Bible:  to do the Bible study, read the book, exegete the text.  It is entirely another matter to let the Word transform us.  And then to live out of the joy and gratitude of that transformation, so much so that we can’t help but share it.

Oh, let that be me.

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