You are a son or daughter of the Good and Loving God. The Divine Image is planted inherently and intrinsically within you. You cannot create it, you cannot manufacture it, you cannot earn it, you cannot achieve it, you cannot attain it, you cannot cumulatively work up to it. Do you know why? Because you already have it! That is the core of the Gospel.
A preoccupation with False Self gets in the way of experiencing and knowing this reality. The False Self is an imaginary self that thinks it’s separate; it is the self that I think I am. The False Self is what has to die so your True Self can live.
God will lead you to that new, transformed place of the True Self if you get out of the way. You don’t have to do it; it will be done to you. Don’t try to engineer your own death. That just reinforces the ego.
A situation in your life will lead you to a place, an event, a relationship, a failing or falling apart of something wherein you can’t control life anymore and you can’t understand it. Your little, separate, False Self is simply inadequate to the task. And finally, thankfully, you collapse into the larger self, who you are in God, the True Self, which is inherently beloved.
You can’t make yourself more beloved, and you can’t make yourself less beloved. You just have to one day recognize that it is true and start drawing your life from that much larger Source.
Adapted from Dying: We Need It for Life (Richard Rohr on Transformation)
You may remember I wrote in a recent post, how comparatively easy it is for me to find God in the desperate times, and how I occasionally struggle with “the strange difficulty of spirituality during times of happiness and security.”
Rohr puts his finger on it here, I think, when he says, “You don’t have to do it; it will be done to you.”
I am far too prone to try and take responsibility for my own spiritual life. In reality, there is little I can do myself. In the last year of his short life, Thomas R Kelly wrote (Quaker Faith & Practice 2.10):
In this humanistic age we suppose man is the initiator and God is the responder. But the living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’ And all our apparent initiative is already a response, a testimonial to His secret presence and working within us. The basic response of the soul to the Light is internal adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship, self-surrender and listening.
William Leddra of Barbados, on the day before he was martyred in 1661, wrote (QFP 2.19):
As the flowing of the ocean doth fill every creek and branch thereof, and then retires again towards its own being and fulness, and leaves a savour behind it; so doth the life and virtue of God flow into every one of your hearts, whom he hath made partakers of his divine nature; and when it withdraws but a little, it leaves a sweet savour behind it; that many can say they are made clean through the word that he hath spoken to them. In which innocent condition you may see what you are in the presence of God, and what you are without him… Stand still, and cease from thine own working, and in due time thou shalt enter into the rest, and thy eyes shall behold his salvation, whose testimonies are sure, and righteous altogether.
What is hard for us, for me at any rate, is to stand still and cease from my own working. That feels like negligence, when it is actually faith, and irresponsibility, when it is trusting in that infinite and loving mercy that is God.