The image is on bended knee, directly in front of me when I wake up every morning. I found it many years ago on a sale, cluttered amongst other marked down items. In that busy, post-Christmas store, as people were returning and exchanging their gifts, this little sculpture spoke to me. It represents my innards, my soul, my very depth. This, Lord, is how I want my soul to be formed – in an always bended-knee posture, face upward, searching Yours. So, there it is, on the dressing table in front of my bed. In the morning it petitions me and in the evening it encourages me, this symbol of my beseeching soul.
Every day we are being formed. What we see, hear, touch, smell and taste sends us messages. These messages whisper stories to us about ourselves and they form us. The prevailing culture sends a message that all we have and all we do must be busier and bigger in order to be better. It daily whispers our shame as we become slaves to the tyranny of first and of most. But what if we turn away from the call of the tormenter and bend our knees to the creator of our soul and, with face lifted to his, we smell his fragrance and we see and feel and hear and taste his way?
This is the way of slow and steady and sacrifice.
The earth is filled with His glory and we have but to look and to learn. The creators of fine wines prune back vines in ways that yield a smaller crop. The fruit from these vines grow slowly and cluster into bunches that make the kind of wine that matures in character and depth with each passing year. The growers of mass-produced grapes on unwieldy trellises produce wine fit only for instant consumption.
The earth shows us the way Glorious, if we only but look. Soil polluted by the harsh chemicals of the tyrant-made is not what forms the soul to be Christ-like.
Organic and heirloom He wants for us. This requires us to turn from the culture of our day and be willing to prune back, live simply, take longer, grow authentically and produce seed after this kind. Heirloom seeds contain all that they have inherited from those that came before and they pass it all on to the next generation, unmodified and fully able to produce after its’ own kind. How we pass the gospel of Christ from one generation to the next matters.
Of late, my heart cries more and more to turn away from the dominion of the culture of this present age and to seek God’s pruning. With the Scriptures as my anchor, I look more and more to the Church fathers of ancient days and seek out their teaching and their prayers. I search for those in our post-modern world who bear fruit that tastes of the good inheritance they have received from those who came before them – people like Dallas Willard and Eugene Petersen and Henri Nouwen and others. People of old and of new, all who display the same innards and who call us to turn from the mass-produced and who beseech us to embrace solitude and silence and sacrifice.
So that our souls may be formed in Christ and not in culture.
So that our souls may heal from the chemicals that produce false growth.
So that our souls may long for our neighbor’s good and not so very much for our own.
So that our spiritual disciplines are exactly that and not forms of entertainment.
So that our souls are not led into temptation but that we are delivered from evil.
So that the Body of Christ reflects His kingdom and not our own.
“May your kingdom come. May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10