James 4:2 says we don’t have because we don’t ask. There is a version that translates this by saying we have little because we ask little. It is such a simple yet profound verse. It came to my mind again recently as the result of reading more of Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward”.
One quote of his was this:
“It has been said that 90 percent of people seem to live 90 percent of their lives on cruise control, which is to be unconscious.”
Every since my late teens, I have had this adamant, very clear purpose and goal to my life; “not to become a shallow person; in thought, word, or deed”. I prided myself on achieving this goal for the most part until I read authors like Rohr who suddenly reveal to me that I often fall into the category of the unconscious, and especially of late. It was a real wake up call, for sure. My prayers have become small, my meditations are on the surface and I don’t like the result one bit and yet it has been like a magnetic pull to get out of that pattern.
For some reason, I am hesitant to go to the depths with God right now; at least not nearly as often as I used to. Anytime I get close to that place, I get so excited, but then I jump up and do something else with the energy instead of staying with God in the moment. I tell myself I will come back later in the day, but it seldom happens. But I found in order to write about the depths of God, I had to have a fresh exposure to that place, and for me, that takes time and quietness of mind. I had to look at my resistance to this process; a process I used to crave.
“We dare not try to fill our souls and minds with numbing addictions, diversionary tactics, or mindless distractions. The shape of evil is much more superficiality and blindness than the usually listed ‘hot sins.’ God hides, and is found, precisely in the depths of everything, even and maybe especially in the deep fathoming of our failings and failures. Sin is to stay on the surface of even holy things, like Bible, sacrament, or church. If we go to the depths of anything, we will begin to knock upon something substantial, ‘real’ and with a timeless quality to it. We will move from the starter kit of ‘belief’ to an actual inner knowing.”
That last paragraph is worth reading again. He writes much more eloquently about what my awareness was as a teen; being superficial and blind, living in the shallows, is sin to me. Staying on the surface is so easy because there are so many distractions nowadays. But God is found in the depths of everything. Living on the surface of anything is so ultimately unsatisfying and empty and yet I find it now quite easy to be there and even stay there. I have always wanted/needed more. A wise friend back in the 70’s told me that was a worthy goal for sure but I needed to be prepared for the loneliness that will result from it because few will want to pursue that with me. He was so right.
I began to pray desperately, “Search me, oh God! Reveal to me what You see in my heart.” It’s not enough just for me to look into my heart and see what is there because that often just sends me into a tailspin and reaching for pen and paper so I can create a to-do list so I can fix it. But I need God, my Holy Father to look into my heart and then see things from His perspective.
I find that distractions have kept me in the shallows, along with false justifications, not praying with any depth and/or asking for only small things, not worshiping Him on a regular basis, not praying His written Word back to Him, living only in my little world, not being in the Word often enough; all of these things have kept me in the shallows. Becoming aware of those areas was sobering and yet liberating because they could all be changed in an instant and they were. God never convicts without sending a remedy at the same moment. The last few weeks have been totally different for me and I am rejoicing.
The changes I have made were not made from a legalistic place (a spiritual to-do list to earn God’s favor) but from a place of true need and desire for change. God is faithful, His Word is true. Even the smallest effort to turn towards Him is rewarded many times over.
Again, I will say, Praise to Him.