I lead worship this morning and it was wonderful.

There are times when the thirst I feel for being in the glory of His presence pours out of me like the longing of a lovesick teenager… those times are good. Then there are times when I come almost too casually, and find myself caught up in the whilrwind – unexpectedly overwhelmed by Him… those times are also good. But the best times are those in which the longing of my heart meets the passion of His. I LOVE those times.

A.W. Tozer wrote,

“To have found God and to persue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.”

I love that phrase: “The Children of the Burning Heart”. It’s the kind of thing that could only come out of a closet mystic like Tozer. I feel a certain connection to the mystic writers.

Madam Guyon was such a mystic. She was very influential in the French courts during the 17th century. Unfortunately, her sometimes controversial opinions got her into trouble with the Church and she spent a good deal of her life in dungeons. She wrote about personal holiness and personal knowledge of God through constant prayer. My favourite quote from her is,

“Nothing is so easily obtained as the possession and enjoyment of God, for ‘in Him we live and move and have our being’ and he is more desirous to give Himself into us than we can be to recieve Him. All consists in the manner of seeking Him; and to seek aright, is easier and more natural than breathing. Though you think yourself ever so stupid, dull and incapable of sublime attainments, yet by prayer you may live in God Himself with less difficulty and interruption than you live in the vital air.”

My favourite of all mystics is Brother Lawrence. Here is a man whose influence on the Christian faith has been colossal, and yet, he was not a theologian, or a ruler, or a pastor, or even a worship leader. All he did was learn how to live in the very presence of God at all times, and say how. He worked all his life as a simple cook in a monastery, happily carrying on an inward conversation with God. What I love most about him is that he doesn’t come accross as this super-spiritual eunuch man. He admits that learning to be what Tozer calls a Child of the Burning Heart takes time and effort and tears:

“I must tell you that for the first ten years I suffered much: the apprehension that I was not devoted to God, as I wished to be, [and] my past sins always present in my mind… were the matter and source of my sufferings. During this time, I fell often, and rose again presently…Just when I could think of nothing but to end these days of troubles, I found myself changed all at once; and my soul… felt a profound inward peace, as if she were in her centre and place of rest.”

Ten years of wrestling constantly and seeking wholeheartedly with what felt like nothing to show for it, and then, all of a sudden – changed and at peace in His constant presence.  

I find myself more and more drawn towards this personal, non-religious faith. The urge is constantly there to rebel against the little traditions and rituals that make up my public Christianity. Against what Tozer calls “the age of religious complexity”, and yet, if there is anything to be learnt from Brother Lawrence, and Madam Guyon, and A.W. Tozer, it is this: the form of the expression of your faith is not what matters – the only thing that really counts is the substance: the intimate communion with Christ. You don’t have to be a monk living in a cave to do this. You don’t have to be a pastor either. You can be a simple cook, or a simple teacher, or anything…

As long as you simply long for Him with the burning heart of a child.

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