Give over thine own willing, give over thy own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee and be in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee; and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of Life, which is its portion.

Isaac Penington, 1661, in Quaker Faith and Practice 26.70

Surrender. There is that, I think, in the heart of each of us that longs for surrender, try as we may to avoid it. We are taught from an early age that surrender equals defeat, that the valiant never surrender, and so on, but in the hands of the living God surrender is the only valour possible.

In the end, none of us will be able to hold on to our own willing, our own running, our own desiring; and if we reach that last hour trying to do so, what will become of us? But the joy of surrender to the God whose love holds us, and heals us, and sustains us, just as in it all things hold together (Colossians 1.17) will never end, and will flow almost imperceptibly into that Light.

I think that mercy, loving-kindness, can proceed only from surrender. It is only in relinquishing our own clinging, our own self-will, that we can become open enough, small enough before God, to suffer with (which is what the word compassion means) those who are small and helpless, and in need of mercy themselves, and to stand still enough to become places where that healing Light can break into the darkness of pain and loss, at whatever cost to ourselves that may involve.

It is a circular argument. Only by grace can we come to that degree of surrender, that pitch of courage; yet only true surrender is open enough to receive that degree of grace…

A blog by Mike Farley, ex-dairy herdsman, musician, writer and contemplative based in the south-west of the UK. Header and background photograph © Mike Farley

15 thoughts on “About

  1. Tom

    A great resource, full of many useful and largely unexplored topics. The links between different spiritual traditions and Quakerism that you make are fascinating. Very interested to come across your blog.

  2. annedegruchy

    I have ‘followed’ your blog, but don’t seem to have the option to follow through email, which is my preference. It simply adds it to my WordPress follows when I click the link. Just to let you know!

  3. annedegruchy

    Ahh – I have to take back my last comment – sorry Mike. I HAVE received an email notification – it just didn’t go through the normal ‘confirm your subscription by email’ process, so I got confused! Looking forward to reading your blogs.

  4. Elizabeth Roehm

    I cannot tell you how much your post means to me as I am exploring my own issues with the Calvinist. Thank you for your insight.

  5. Satya Robyn

    Hi Mike – good to find your blog, I was searching for something I’d written online and came across your blog on grace. Always good to meet companions on the path. Deep bow, Satya

  6. Mike Farley Post author

    Good to meet you here, Satya! We have loved reading your books, and I’m a regular reader of your blog posts also, so you are very welcome. Good companions indeed, both of you…

    Every blessing,


  7. William F Rushby

    Mike: I appreciate your thoughtful posts and the quotations from others whose incisive essays I also find very helpful. I wonder what, in your mind, privileges a “contemplative” spirituality over other approaches to Christian life, specifically over other Quaker “modes of knowing?” I personally lean more toward a Pentecostal Quaker spirituality, which IMHO was probably more characteristic of the early Friends.

    1. Mike Farley Post author

      Dear William
      Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure that I do see a contemplative spirituality as more – though certainly not less – important than any other aspects of Quaker spirituality. Probably I feel that it is, at least in the UK, an aspect that is in danger of being overlooked in favour of social and political activism on the one hand, and discussions about words (the so-called theist/non-theist/universalist conversation) on the other, and that may be why I rather emphasise it here.
      That Quakerism is, at least in part, a charismatic movement is a point of view I’m not wholly unfamiliar with (there is an excellent article, if you don’t know it, by Hye Sung Francis Gehring at https://pcpj.org/2017/02/20/quakerism-as-a-charismatic-tradition/) and with which I’m very comfortable.
      It’s an interesting point, though, especially as I spent 10 years in the Vineyard church, where – at least in the UK twenty-odd years ago – the charismatic and the contemplative sat on the whole very happily together with a more Evangelical take on the Bible than we are used to as Quakers. I’m not sure I’d like to try and define one over against the other in a Quaker context, though I do see personal contemplative practice as having more to do with the silence of (corporate) Quaker worship, and e.g. speaking in tongues during private prayer as having a closer connection with spoken, Spirit-led ministry. But words and their definitions are very much a human concern!
      In Friendship

  8. navasolanature

    I feel your posts bring alive the value of silence underpinning our lives. Often being far from a Quaker meeting which I often find restorative it is good to get some light over the web! Thanks!


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