by Carl Diener
“Just a little time is what it’s about.
Turns the cabbage into sauerkraut.”
(prophetic word, White Horse Cafe, Hartford, Vermont)
Since ancient times, Christian mystics have understood that righteousness comes from time spent with the Holy Spirit. “With the lips of our hearts we drink from your fountain oh Lord” – Augustin wrote. Yes, your heart has lips, and that means that you need to drink and keep drinking from the Holy Spirit and stay baptized in Him or “pickled” as the word means in Greek.
To act righteous or behave morally is a process we are told. We “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” as the word says and many times this is true. However, if you will permit me to express a fact: There is a better way.
In his book Finding Our Way to God: Spiritual: Direction and the Moral Life, Dennis Billy C.Ss.R. says that “The division between spirituality and the morality did not exist in the early centuries of the Church.”
This division must give way to the fact that moral behavioral righteousness has to do with a person’s relationship to the Savior Jesus Christ. The first step is to recognize that because of the atonement, we are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. So how does our behavior match up? The answer is how much of the Holy Spirit do we allow in our life. The time is fast coming where we need to be in the Spirit and not struggling with sin anymore. Let’s talk about the way we need to go.
So I get to the meat of the matter. We need to take up the practice of soaking in the Spirit if we do not want to miss the next move of God and be the righteous people he desires. Soaking in the Spirit’s Presence is the way to Infused righteousness; this is how the old mystics understood it.
A pickle becomes changed from a cucumber because it has spent a great deal of time in the Presence of the pickling solution. Cabbage becomes sauerkraut because it ferments in the Presence of a yeast solution that surrounds it for days.
A Christ believer similarly becomes changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ by soaking in His Presence. We understand the Idea of soaking in the Spirit as putting on worship music and silently lying on the floor in an attitude of worship and adoration of Jesus. All the while, we have a recognition of the Presence of his Spirit with us as we focus on Him.
The mystics referred to this as the prayer of contemplation. We spend a time of contemplation or soaking before the Lord. This is a time when we focus in on Him and Him alone.
We can reach this stage by listening to worship music, as I said. However, the mystics did not have the luxury of turning on a CD, but they had other ways. They were sitting out in the quiet of God’s creation and the wonder of it.
Teresa of Avila advised having a favorite picture of Jesus handy upon which to look. Find a quiet place and meditate on His name in your mind. Or meditate upon some particular scripture.
This state of soaking will often enter a phase where you are not saying or thinking anything; you are waiting in His Presence and enjoying it. When my wife and I were engaged, she was miles away at a different university, and we would call each other on the dorm pay phone. Many was the time there was silence. Each knew we were “connected” on that phone line. There was love there without words. Both of us were utterly oblivious to everything that was going on around us. We were focused on each other.
Soaking in the Presence of the one we love, we drink of His Presence and are inebriated by His love, and we are changed. When Peter shouted out, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
Jesus said, “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you.” How did Peter know? He knew because he had spent time with Jesus and the Spirit of the Father God was speaking to his heart. This knowledge was an infused mystical knowledge.
Teresa of Avila wrote “Represent the Lord Himself as close to you and behold how lovingly and humbly He is teaching you. Believe me; you should remain with so good a friend as long as you can.” Later she adds, “He is not waiting for anything else, He says to his bride, other than that we look at Him.”
So take the time out each day to go soak your head, that is where most of your problem is. You might as well soak the rest of your body while you’re at it. The more you do it, the more you will like it, and the more you will become like Him. You will even begin thinking His thoughts.
As Teresa writes, you may find your “soul is being enkindled in love….. It clearly understands that this joy is not a joy that the intellect obtains merely through desire. The will is enkindled without understanding how.”
You will think like Him because you love Him You will behave like Him because you love Him.
You will be like Ruth “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.”
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