Picture this if you will...
What if we lived in a world--
Where gentleness always wins over bullying
Where friendship always wins over disputing
Where forgiveness always wins over bitterness
Where fidelity always wins over temptations
Where faithfulness always wins over betrayal
Where joyfulness always wins over grumpiness
Where sincerity always wins over sarcasm
Where love always wins over indifference
Where peace always wins over anxiety
Where kindness always wins over mean-spiritedness
And where patience always wins over hurry
Would that be an attractive world to you?
Well my friends, that is holiness.
For the last two weeks I have shared with you three words by which the Lord has inspired me to try to live which bring peace and revival to my sometimes weary and anxious soul. The first was the word simple. The second was pure.
The third is the word holy.
HOLY=dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred.
If there is any word that has lost its “shiny” in the English language--the word “holy” most certainly could top the list.
In our modern world, it seems not many people long after holiness, or what they mistakenly believe to be holiness. Maybe it’s because we pictures portraits of paled saints with their eyes looking heavenward? Or someone not quite “in touch” with the world in which we live today with all its complexities.
Holiness is not the way you wear your hair or grow your beard. Nor is holiness the length of your skirt--though when you have a very close relationship with God, with it may come certain convictions about these things. But you could have a shaved head, a long beard and wear a skirt down to the floor and still not fully open your heart to God. Outward signs come as a signal of inward transformation, they do not cause it.
Holiness is being transformed by God’s own love in order to have that same love in our hearts to love others.
You can read about holiness in Pope Francis' latest Apostolic Exhortation-- “Gaudete et Exsultate”
Holiness is going deeper and deeper into the heart of God.
In the book of the prophet Ezekiel 47: 1-9 we read about a mysterious guide that, in a vision, brings the prophet to the temple of God where he sees a river begin to trickle...
“Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and there! I saw water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east,...When he continued eastward with a measuring cord in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and had me wade through the water; it was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and once more had me wade through the water; it was up to the knees. He measured another thousand cubits and had me wade through the water; it was up to my waist. Once more he measured off a thousand cubits. Now it was a river I could not wade across. The water had risen so high, I would have to swim—a river that was impassable…
He said to me, ‘This water flows out into the eastern district, runs down into the Arabah and empties into the polluted waters of the sea to freshen them.Wherever it flows, the river teems with every kind of living creature; fish will abound. Where these waters flow they refresh; everything lives where the river goes.’”
This is a powerful picture of increasing progress and depth in our spiritual life. It illustrates progression from ankles, to knees, to waist, to depths where we can no longer touch the ground and must swim.
This kind of progress does not happen overnight. It is a journey-- but it is intended to happen.
We shouldn’t stop until we are swimming, in over our heads, carried along by God’s currents... and are comfortable in that place. And where this water flows…it makes even the most polluted waters—fresh again.
God does not need smarter people or more capable people or even busier people. He needs deeper people, holier people.
God is teaching me that I need to learn to "will one thing"--His will.
And that I learn to be: simple --with singleness of heart; be pure--which brings freedom and joy and holy-- allowing myself to swim in the deep with Him so that He can transform my heart to be able to love others like I am greatly loved by Him. He wants me to be what Jesus would have me to be... and nothing more—because in the end--nothing else is needed.
So when you get “spun”—anxious and worried, things don’t go your way, plans don’t turn out as you thought, life hands you a crushing blow -- can you say:
With simplicity of heart (childlike faith) I joyfully offer everything (purity of intention) to You (Holy Father, take my hand, lead me into the deep with You and make me Holy)”.
And see what God does with it?
Quick Check Question: Is what I’m doing bringing me closer to God or leading me further away from Him?
I took this picture of the Indian Ocean on my trip in search of the Chambered Nautilus off the coast of Western Sumatra in the Mentawai Islands. Heavenly…just heavenly...