Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
I had a vision one morning while eating breakfast. The vision was of an ancient man standing next to me. Before him and to the side of me was a bowl, which this ancient man was filling.
This vision came during a time period in which I struggled to be a giving person. Not just giving money, though that was the largest part of it, but giving of myself--meaning my time, of which I was quite stingy. Honestly, it had taken years for me to reach the point of even struggling to be a giving person. I didn't know how to be giving and felt my circumstances excused me from being so. I saw myself as needy, in lots ways.
I loved the Lord then but had not come into His fullness--I guess that's how to put it. I think George Fox describes it grandly. "And so now, come to receive his image and likeness, and then come to the practice of it." I had not come to the practice of it. (That Thy Candles May Always Be Burning)
When I started The Religious Society Cafe in 2010, I reinstated daily worship. And the time I alloted for it grew longer. When I realized the vacuity of my worship without preparation or instruction, I began reading the Bible. Reading the Bible became dominant, along with writing down my thoughts, comments, and laments. Worship time dwindled. I returned to reading George Fox's journal and treasured bits of Isaac Penington epistles. But Fox's journal I had read repeatedly and the same was true of Penington's writings. Then I found Quaker Heritage Press online. There I was able to print out Barclay's Apology for the True Christian Divinity, which was especially helpful in that he put forth Quaker beliefs and practices, explaining and supporting them from scripture.
Reading the Bible, writing the blog, jotting down thoughts as prayer, reflecting, clarifying, etc., were all fruitful spiritual exercises. When I look back through my blog posts I can see my growth to God. Yet, I was no where near the practice of Christ's image and likeness. It was like finding my home but unable to enter.
At that time, too, I suffered confusion, a kind of internal battle over God and Jesus. Was Jesus inferior to God or equal or the same? Was he just the son and inferior, because no son is superior to his father? If I loved Jesus intensely was I displacing God? Was this wrong? Then my love for God would intensify almost to the point where Jesus disappeared from thought. I went back and forth for some time.
My silent worship had ceased as part of my daily life. I read and wrote, maybe prayed, but the reading and writing sufficed as daily worship. But the Lord was tapping me on the shoulder. I wasn't clear about this tapping and so it went on for a while as I tried to guess why my reading and prayers lacked savor. Then one day, seeing how dull my mind was, He invited me back to worship--that fifteen minutes of silent waiting upon the Lord. I didn't forgo the reading or other preparation; all became part of worship. A short while after my return to worship, the Lord brought me to my knees. This was my entrance to my home.
The thing is, the vision of the ancient man scooping provision into my bowl happened before I got on my knees. I say that because the ancient man was God. Not that I saw God, please, I'm not saying that. I just saw an ancient man and knew it was God, because I understood what he was saying to me by filling my bowl. He was saying he provides everything. The more I give, the more he fills my bowl. I must give generously because he gives generously. In other words, I had no reason to believe I wouldn't have enough for myself if I gave all.
The aura stayed with me for some time, but the pull of secular life dimmed its glow. It was easy to recall the vision but its influence waned and I found myself thinking again like one who is needy. Every once in a while, though, I would get that still, small voice admonishing me, drawing me back to the place of practice. After each time I'd maintain my progress. Still, it was getting on my knees that truly set me in the path of my Lord, Jesus Christ.
So tonight, as I brushed my teeth, I recalled that ancient man and the bowl, and thought how God provides for us in all ways, and how we don't have to worry about how our clothes look or whether we have grand homes, or any material stuff. I thought about Adam and Eve after they had eaten from the Tree of Good and Evil and saw that they were naked and how God made clothing for them to cover their nakedness.
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