Monday, January 9, 2012

The Furnace of Transformation

In my last post, I talked about dealing with the conditions of our heart, using anger as an example. Cultivating our hearts in love is the thing. The working of the inward parts is this furnace, it is no wonder we in the Western World are so easily distracted and continually inventing new ways to distract ourselves, because who really enjoys working at the heart? It is the hardest work, it is costly.

In the Book, The Way of the Heart, in the section called, "The Furnace of Transformation", the author addresses the compulsions of the world and the remedy for protecting our hearts from getting caught up in them- solitude. Solitude means many things to people, but here, the author clearly expresses the secret place with the Lord, as the place where we cultivate "solitude". Speaking of some famous Saints, he says:

"For them, solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is a place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the new man and the new woman occurs."(pg. 27)

The place of solitude is taking time away, no phone, no distractions, just you and God. Mother Theresa had suggested and hour a day in adoration of God to be alright, but how many of us are completely alone with God without any distractions for an hour a day? That doesn't even seem like a lot, but it is so necessary to get alone, really alone with God.

A couple years ago I took my first solo retreat. I was away from my family three days and two nights to be alone with God. I experienced many of the things this author described: wicked thoughts, disturbing dreams, and I didn't feel the presence of God. It was a great working out of my own soul. No one would want to live in that wilderness for 20 years, but if we could take an hour a day and chisel off the worlds attachments to our souls, I believe we as a people of God, would be closer to God and less attached to worldliness.

"We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw everyday, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord'...'with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to Him in whose Name we minister." (pg. 30-31)

Finally, I agree with the author, that solitude is not a means to an end, but a discipline that continually fashions us to become more and more like Christ. I long for my next block of time alone with Him, how about you?

Father, I pray you would help me to look at my schedule with creative eyes and get more solitude time with You alone. You are my source, and I desire my heart to be conformed to Yours, in the Name of Jesus Christ my Lord, amen.

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