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These meditations are dedicated to helping people who wish to live a deeper life in the relationship with Jesus Christ through the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, the the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within which illuminates the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of men. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all who are Christians.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 1
The Living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us. "Behold I stand at the door and knock." And all our apparent initiative is already a response, a testimonial to His secret presence and working within us.
The basic response of the soul to the Light is internal adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship, self-surrender and listening. The secret places of the heart cease to be our noisy workshop. They become a holy sanctuary of adoration and of self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace, if our minds be stayed on Him who has found us in the inward springs of our life. And in brief intervals of overpowering visitation we are able to carry the sanctuary of mind out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness, and in a hyperaesthesia of the soul, we see all mankind tinged with deeper shadows, and touched with Galilean glories. Powerfully are the springs of our will moved to an abandon of singing love toward God; powerfully are we moved to a new and overcoming love toward time-blinded men and all creation. In this Center of Creation, all things are ours, and we are Christ's and Christ is God's. We are owned then, ready to run and not be weary and to walk and not faint.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 2
The Eternal Inward Light does not die when ecstasy dies, nor exist only intermittently, with the flickering of our psychic states. Continuously renewed immediacy, not receding memory of the Divine Touch, lies at the base of religious living. Let us explore the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns, a perpetual Flame, where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring. The "bright shoots of everlastingness" can become a steady light within, if we are deadly in earnest in our dedication to the Light, and are willing to pass out of first stages into maturer religious living. Only if this is possible can the light from the inner sanctuary of the soul be a workaday light for the marketplace, a guide for perplexed feet, a recreator of culture-patterns for the race of men.
What is here urged are internal practices and habits of the mind. What is here urged are secret habits of unceasing orientation of the deeps of our being about the Inward Light, ways of conducting our inward life so that we are perpetually bowed in worship, while we are also very busy in the world of daily affairs. What is here urged are inward practices of the mind at the deepest levels, letting it swing like a needle, to the polestar of the soul. And like the needle, the Inward Light becomes the truest guide of life, showing us new and unsuspected defects in ourselves and our fellows, showing us new and unsuspected possibilities in the power and life of goodwill among men. But, more deeply, He who is within us urges, by secret persuasion, to such an amazing Inward Life with Him, so that, firmly cleaving to Him, we always look out upon all the world through the sheen of the Inward Light, and react toward men spontaneously and joyously from this Inward Center.
Yield yourself to Him who is a far better teacher than those outward words, and you will have found the Instructor Himself, of whom these words are a faint and broken echo.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 3-4
The call to all men is the practice of orientating their entire being in inward adoration about the springs of immediacy and ever fresh divine power within the secret silences of the soul. The Inner Light, the Inward Christ, is no mere doctrine, belonging peculiarly to a small religious group, to be accepted or rejected as a mere belief. It is the living Center of Reference for all Christian souls and the Christian groups who seriously mean to dwell in the secret place of the Most High. He is the center and the source of action, not the end-point of thought. He is the locus of commitment, not a problem for debate. Practice comes first in religion, not theory or dogma. And the Christian practice is not exhausted in outward deeds. These are the fruits, not the roots. A practicing Christian must above all be one who practices the perpetual return of the soul into the inner sanctuary, who brings the world into its Light and rejudges it, who brings the Light into the world with all its turmoil and its fitfulness and recreates it.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 8
There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level, we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.
The secular world of today values and cultivates only the first level, assured that there is where the real business of mankind is done, and scorns, or smiles in tolerant amusement, at the cultivation of the second level. But in a deeply religious culture, men know that the deep level of prayer and of divine attendance is the most important thing in the world. It is at this deep level that the real business of life is determined.
The secular mind is an abbreviated, fragmentary mind, building only upon a part of man's nature and neglecting a part - the most glorious part - of man's nature, powers, and resources.
The religious mind involves the whole of man, embraces his relations with time within their true ground and setting in the Eternal Lover. It ever keeps close to the fountains of divine creativity. In lowliness it knows joys and stabilities, peace and assurances, that are utterly incomprehensible to the secular mind. It lives in resources and powers that make individuals radiant and triumphant, groups tolerant and bonded together in mutual concern, and is bestirred to an outward life of unremitting labor.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 9
Between the two levels of the secular and the religious is a fruitful interplay, but ever the accent must be upon the deeper level, where the soul ever dwells in the presence of the Holy One. For the religious man is forever bringing all affairs of the first level down into the Light, holding them there in the Presence, reseeing them and the whole of the world of men and things in a new and overturning way, and responding to them in spontaneous, incisive, and simple ways of love and faith. Facts remain facts, when brought into the Presence in the deeper level, but their value, their significance, is wholly realigned.
Much apparent wheat becomes utter chaff, and some chaff becomes wheat. Imposing powers? They are out of the Life, and must crumble. Lost causes? If God be for them, who can be against them? Rationally plausible futures? They are weakened or certified in the dynamic Life and Light. Tragic suffering? Already He is there, and we actively move, in His tenderness, toward the sufferers. Hopeless debauchees? These are the children of God, His concern and ours. Inexorable laws of nature? The dependable framework for divine reconstruction. The fall of a sparrow? the Father's love. For faith and hope and love for all things are engendered in the soul, as we practice their submission and our own to the Light Within, as we humbly see all things, even darkly as through a glass, yet through the eye of God.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 10
Theologies and symbols and creeds, though inevitable, are transient and become obsolescent, while the Life of God sweeps on through the souls of men in continued revelation and creative newness. To that divine Life we must cling. In that Current we must bathe. In that abiding yet energizing Center we are all made one, behind and despite the surface differences of our forms and cultures. For the heart of the religious life is in commitment and worship, not in reflection and theory.
How, then, shall we lay hold of that Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward Him who calls in the deeps of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established. An inner, secret turning to God can be made fairly steady, after weeks and months and years of practice and lapses and failures and returns. Begin now, as you read these words, as you sit in your chair, to offer your whole selves, utterly and in joyful abandon, in quiet, glad surrender to Him who is within. In secret ejaculations of praise, turn in humble wonder to the Light, faint thought it may be. Keep contact with the outer world of sense and meanings. Here is no discipline in absentmindedness. Walk and talk and work and laugh with your friends. But behind the scenes, keep up the life of simple prayer and inward worship. Keep it up throughout the day. Let inward prayer be your last act before your fall asleep and the first act when you awake. And in time you will find that those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 12
The practice of inward prayer is an inward process of alternation of attention between outer things and the Inner Light. Preoccupation with either brings the loss of the other. Yet what is sought is not alternation, but simultaneity, worship undergirding every moment, living prayer, the continuous current and background of all moment of life. Long practice indeed is needed before alternation yields to concurrent immersion in both levels at once. The "plateaus in the learning curve" are so long, and many falter and give up, assenting to alternation as the best that they can do. And no doubt in His graciousness God gives us His gifts, even in intermittent communion, and touches us into flame, far beyond our achievements, and deserts. But the hunger of the committed one is for unbroken communion and adoration, and we may be sure He longs for us to find it and supplements our weakness. for our quest is of His initiation and is carried forward in His tender power and completed by His grace.
The first signs of simultaneity are given when at the moment of recovery from a period of forgetting there is a certain sense that we have not completely forgotten Him. It is as though we are only coming back into a state of vividness which had endured in dim and tenuous form throughout. What takes place now is not reinstatement of a broken prayer but return to liveliness of that which had endured, but mildly. The currents of His love have been flowing, but whereas we had been drifting in Him, now we swim. It is like the background of a picture which extends all the way across behind a tree in the foreground. It is not that we merely know intellectually that the background of the picture has unbroken extension; we experience aesthetically that it does extend across. Again, it is like waking from sleep yet knowing, not by inference but by immediate awareness, that we have lived even while we were asleep. For sole preoccupation with the world is sleep, but immersion in Him is life.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 13
Periods of dawning simultaneity of living at the same time in the outer world and in the inner world, along with steadfast prayer, may come and go, lapsing into alternation for long periods and returning in glorious power. We can learn to submit to the inner discipline of the withdrawing of His gifts. For if the least taint of spiritual pride in our prayer-growth has come, it is well that He humble us until we are worthy of greater trust. For though we begin the practice of secret prayer with a strong sense that we are the initiators and that by our wills we are establishing our habits, maturing experience brings awareness of being met and tutored, purged and disciplined, simplified and made pliant in His holy will by a power waiting within us. For God Himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for His wonder. We cease trying to make ourselves the dictators and God the listener, and become the joyful listeners to Him, the Master who does all things well.
There is then no need to fret when faithful turning to Him, if He leads us but slowly into secret chambers. If He gives us increasing steadiness in the deeper sense of His Presence, we can only quietly thank Him. If He holds us in the stage of alternation we can thank Him for His loving wisdom, and wait upon His guidance through the stages of which we are prepared. For we cannot take Him by storm. The strong man must become the little child, not understanding, but trusting the Father.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 14
There is no new technique for entrance upon the stage in prayer where the soul in its deeper levels is continuously at Home in Jesus - the Light Within. The processes of inward prayer do not grow more complex, but more simple. Formulate them spontaneously. "Thine only. Thine only." Or seize upon a fragment of the Psalms: "so panteth my soul after Thee, O God." Repeat them inwardly, over and over again. For the conscious cooperation of the surface level is needed at first, before prayer sinks into the second level as habitual divine orientation. Change the phrases, as you feel led, from hour to hour or from forenoon to afternoon. If you wander, return and begin again. But the time will come when verbalization is not so imperative, and yields place to the attitudes of soul which you meant the words to express, attitudes of humble bowing before Him, attitudes of lifting high your whole being before Him that the Light may shine into the last crevice and drive away all darkness, attitudes of approach and nestling in the covert of His wings, attitudes of amazement and marvel at His transcendent glory, attitudes of self-abandonment, attitudes of feeding in an inward Holy Supper upon the Bread of Life. If you find, after a time, that these attitudes become diffused and vague, no longer firm textured, then return to verbalizations and thus restore their solidity.
But longer discipline in this inward prayer will establish more enduring unreachings of praise and submission and relaxed listening in the depths, unworded but habitual orientation of all one's self about Him who is the Focus. The process is much simpler now. Little glances, quiet breathings of submission, and invitation suffice. Voluntary or stated times of prayer merely join into and enhance the steady undercurrent of quiet worship that underlies the hours. Behind the foreground of the words continues the background of heavenly orientation, as all the currents of our being set toward Him. Through the shimmering light of divine Presence we look out upon the world, and in its turmoil and its fitfulness, we may be given to respond, in some increased measure, in way dimly suggestive of the Son of Man.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 16
Are the depths of prayer our own achievement? This humanistic thought misses the autonomy of the life of prayer. It misses the fact that the inner Light has a life of its own, invigorated not by us but by a divine Source. There come times when prayer pours forth in volumes and originality such as we cannot escape. It rolls through us like a mighty tide. Our prayers are mingled with the a vaster Word, a Word that at one time was made flesh. We pray, and yet it is not we who pray, but a Greater who prays in us. Something of our punctiform selfhood is weakened, but never lost. All we can say is, Prayer is taking place, and I am given to be in the orbit. In holy hush we bow in Eternity, and know the Divine Concern tenderly enwrapping us and all things within His persuading love. Here all human initiative has passed into acquiescence, and He works and prays and seeks His own though us, in exquisite, energizing life. Her the autonomy of the inner life becomes complete and we are joyfully prayed through, by a Seeking Life that flows through us into the world of men. Sometimes this prayer is particularized, and we are impelled to pray for particular persons or particular situations with a quiet or turbulent energy that, subjectively considered, seems utterly irresistible. Sometimes the prayer and this Life that flows through us reaches out to all souls with kindred vision and upholds them in His tender care. Sometimes it flows out to the world of blinded struggle, and we become cosmic Saviors, seeking all those who are lost.
This "infused prayer" is not frequently given, in full intensity. But something of its autonomous character remains as an increasing awareness of a more-than-ourselves, working persuadingly and powerfully at the roots of our own soul, and in the depths of all men. It is an experimental assurance of Divine Love and persuasion pervading the world, impelling men to the cross. Here we have our firsthand assurance that He who began a good work in us, as in Timothy, can establish us in Him, can transform intermittency and alternation into simultaneity and continuity.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 18
Guidance of life by the Light within begins first of all in a mass revision of our total reaction to the world. Worshipping in the light we become new creatures, making wholly new and astonishing responses to the entire outer setting of life. These responses are not reasoned out. They are, in large measure, spontaneous reactions of felt incompatibility between "the world's" judgments of value and the Supreme Value we adore deep in the Center. There is a total Instruction as well as specific instructions from the Light within. The dynamic illumination from the deeper level is shed upon the judgments of the surface level, and lo, the "former things are passed away, behold, they are become new."
Paradoxically, this total Instruction proceeds in two opposing directions at once. We are torn loose from earthly attachments and ambitions and we are quickened to a divine but painful concern for the world. He plucks the world out of our hearts, loosening the chains of attachment. and He hurls the world into our hearts, where we and He together carry it in infinitely tender love.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 19
There is a sound and valid contempt of the world which the Inner Light works within the utterly dedicated soul. Positions of prominence, eminences of social recognition which we once meant to attain - how puny and trifling they become! Our old ambitions and heroic dreams - what years we have wasted in feeling our own insatiable self-pride, when only His will truly matters! Our wealth and property, security now and in old age - upon what broken reeds have we leaned, when He is "the rock of our heart, and our portion forever!"
Again, we have quailed and been tormented in our obscurity, we have fretted and been anxious because of our limitations, set by our own nature and by our surroundings. The tasks are so great, and we have accomplished so little, and been assigned such lowly talents and occupations.
But instructed in one point of view of the paradox, we bestride the mountains or the valleys of earthly importance with a holy indifference, contempt, and detachment. Placed in coveted surroundings, recipients of honors, we count them as refuse, as nothing, utterly nothing. Place in the shadows, we are happy to pick up a straw for the love of God. No task is so small as to distress us, no honor so great as to turn our heads.
Such loosening of the chains of attachment is easy, if we be given times of a sense of unutterable nearness to Himself. In those moments what would we not leave for Him? For some persons, in such moments, the work of detachment exists chiefly as an intellectual obligation, ominously hovering over their heads as duty, but not known as experienced joy in the new freedom of utter poverty. Still others obstruct this detachment, reject it as absurd or unneeded, and cling to mammon while they seek to cling to God.
Double-mindedness in this matter is wholly destructive of the spiritual life. Totalitarian are the claims of Christ. No vestige of reservation of "rights" can remain. Straddle arrangements and compromises between our allegiances to the surface level and the divine Center cannot endure. Unless the willingness is present to be stripped of our last earthly dignity and hope, and yet still praise Him, we have no message in this our day of refugees, bodily and spiritual. Nor have we yielded to the monitions of the Inner Instructor.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 20
Completed detachment is vastly harder than intended detachment. Fugitive islands of secret reservations elude us. Rationalizations hide them. Intending absolute honesty, we can only bring ourselves steadfastly into His presence and pray, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults." And in the X-ray light of Eternity we may be given to see the dark spots of life, and divine grace may be given to reinforce our will to complete abandonment in Him. For the guidance of the Light is critical, acid, sharper than a two-edged sword. He asks all, but He gives all.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 21
Let me talk intimately and earnestly about Him who is dearer than life. Do you really want to live your lives, every moment of your lives, in His Presence? Do you long for Him, crave Him? Do you love His Presence? Does every drop of blood in your body love Him? Does every breath you draw breathe a prayer, a praise to Him? Do you sing and dance within yourselves, as you glory in His love? Have you set yourselves to be Him, and only His, walking every moment in holy obedience? I know I'm talking like an old-time evangelist. But I can't help that, nor dare I restrain myself and get prim and conventional. We have too long been prim and restrained. The fires of the love of God, of our love toward God, and of His love toward us, are very hot. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind and strength." Do we really do it? Is love steadfastly directed toward God, in our minds, all day long? Do we intersperse our work with gentle prayers and praises to Him? Do we live in the steady peace of God, a peace down at the very depths of our souls, where all strain is gone and God is already victor over the world, already victor over our weaknesses? This life, this abiding, enduring peace that never fails, this serene power and unhurried conquest, inward conquest over ourselves, outward conquest over the world, is meant to be ours. It is a life that is freed from strain and anxiety and hurry, for something of the Cosmic Patience of God becomes ours. Are our lives unshakable, because we are clear down on bed rock, rooted and grounded in the love of God? This is the first and the great commandment.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 95
Do you want to live in the amazing divine Presence that life is transformed and transfigured and transmuted into peace and power and glory and miracle? If you do, then you can. But if you say you haven't the time to go down into the recreating silences, I can only say to you, "Then you don't really want to, you don't yet love God above all else in the world, with all your heart and soul and mind and strength." For, except for spells of sickness in the family and when the children are small, when terrific pressure comes upon us, we find time for what we really want to do.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 96
There is a way of life so hid with Christ in God that in the midst of the day's business one is inwardly lifting brief prayers, short ejaculations of praise, subdued whispers of adoration and of tender love to the Beyond that is within. No one need know about it. One can live in a well-nigh continuous state of unworded prayer, directed toward God, directed toward people and enterprises we have on our heart. There is no hurry about it all; it is a life unspeakable and full of glory, an inner world of splendor within which we, unworthy, may live. Some of you know it and live in it; others of you may wistfully long for it; it can be yours.
Now out from such a holy Center come the commissions of life. Our fellowship with God issues in world-concern. We cannot keep the love of God to ourselves. It spills over. It quickens us. It makes us see the world's needs anew. We love people and we grieve to see them blind when they might be seeing, asleep with all the world's comforts when they ought to be awake and living sacrificially, accepting the world's goods as their right when they really hold them only in temporary trust. It is because from this holy Center we relove people, relove our neighbors as ourselves, that we are bestirred to be means of their awakening.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 98
The deepest need of men is not food and clothing and shelter, important as they are. It is God. We have mistaken the nature of poverty, and thought it was economic poverty. NO, it is poverty of soul, deprivation of God's recreating, loving peace. Peer into poverty and see if we are really getting down to the deepest needs, in our economic salvation schemes. These are important. But they lie father along the road, secondary steps toward world reconstruction. The primary step is a holy life, transformed and radiant in the glory of God.
This love of people is well-neigh as amazing as the love of God. Do we want to help people because we feel sorry for them, or because we genuinely love them? The world needs something deeper than pity; it needs love. (How trite that sounds, how real it is!) But in our love of people are we to be excitedly hurried, sweeping all men and tasks into our loving concern? No, that is God's function. But He, working within us, portions out His vast concern into bundles, and lays on each of us our portion. These become our tasks. Life from the Center is a heaven-directed life.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 99
Much of our acceptance of multitudes of obligations is due to our inability to say NO. We calculated that that task had to be done, and we saw no one ready to undertake it. We calculated the need, and then calculated our time, and decided maybe we could squeeze it in somewhere. But the decision was a heady decision, not made within the sanctuary of the soul. When we say Yes or No to calls for service on the basis of heady decisions, we have to give reasons, to ourselves and others. But when we say Yes or No to calls on the basis of inner guidance and whispered promptings of encouragement from the Center of our life, or on the basis of a lack of any inward "rising" of that Life to encourage us in the call, we have no reason to give, except one - the will of God as we discern it. Then we have begun to live in guidance. He never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness. The Cosmic Patience becomes, in part, our patience, for after all God is at work in the world. It is not we alone who are at work in the world, frantically finishing a work to be offered to God.
Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.
- excerpt taken from A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly, pg 100
How God Breaks into Human Lives
The experience of God breaking into a human life is the experience of an invasion from beyond of an Other who in gentle power breaks in upon out littleness and in tender expansiveness makes room for Himself. Had we thought Him an intruder? No, God's first odor is sweetness, God's touch an imparting of power. Suddenly, a tender giant walks by our side, no, strides within our puny footsteps. We are no longer our little selves. As two bodies closely fastened togethr and whirled in the air revolve in part about the heavier body, so life gets a new center, from which are moved. It is as if the center of life had been shifted beyond ourselves, so that we are no longer our old selves. Paul speaks truly when he says that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, dynamic, energetic, creative, persuasive. In hushed amazement at this majestic Other, our little self grows still and listens for whispers - oh some so faint - and yields itself like a little child to its true Father-guidance. Yes, the sheep surely knows its shepherd in these holy moments of eternity.
- excerpt taken from "Excerpts from The Richard Cary Lecture " in The Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly
How God Breaks into Human Lives - pt 2
It is an amazing discovery to find that that a creative power and Life is at work in the world. God is no longer the object of a belief; He is a Reality, who has continued, within us. His real Presence in the world. God is aggressive. He is an intruder, a lofty lowly conqueror on whom we had counted too little, because we had counted on ourselves. Too long have we supposed that we must carry the banner of religion, that it was our concern. But religion is not our concern; it is God's concern. Our task is to call people to "be still and know that I am God," to hearken to that of God within them, to invite, to unclasp the clenched fists of self-resolution, to be plaint in His firm guidance, sensitive to the inflections of his inner voice.
There is a life beyond earnestness to be found. It is the life rooted and grounded in the Presence, the Life which has been found by the Almighty. Seek it, seek it. Yet it lies beyond seeking. It arises in being found. To have come only as far as religious determination is only to have stood in the vestibule. But our confidence in our shrewdness, in our education, in our talents, in some aspect or other of our self-assured self; is our own undoing. So earnestly busy with anxious, fevered efforts for the Kingdom of God have we been, that we failed to hear the knock upon the door, and to know that our chief task is to open the door and be entered by the Divine Life.
- excerpt taken from "Excerpts from The Richard Cary Lecture " in The Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly
The Church where God lives!
The church building is not a church, the brick and mortar structure is not a church. God doesn't live in a house with a peaked roof. God lives inside people. And if God isn't inside you, you needn't expect to find him in a house with a peaked roof that is outside you. God is within. And where He dwells, there is a holy place. There is an altar inside our own soul. Inside is a hushed and holy Presence, too sacred to be destroyed, too wonderful not to be visited continually. The Holy Presence is Inward. We can find Him there and all life will be new. It is a wonderful discovery, to find that I am a temple, that I have a church inside myself, where God is. There is something awful, that is, awe-inspiring, down at the depths of our own soul. In hushed silence, attend to it. It is a whisper of God Himself, particularizing Himself for you and in you, and speaking to the world through you. God isn't dead. "The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him."
- excerpt adapted from "The Quaker Discovery" in the Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly
Practicing the Presence of God - pt 1
The practice of continuous prayer in the presence of God involves developing the habit of carrying on the mental life at two levels. At one level we are immersed in this world of time, of daily affairs. At the same time, but at a deeper level of our minds, we are in active relation with the Eternal Life. This is not a psychological impossibility, or an abnormal thing. One sees a mild analogy in the very human experience of being in love. the newly accepted lover has an internal life of joy, of bounding heart, of outgoing aspiration toward his beloved. Yet he goes to work, earns his living, eats his meals, pays his bills. But all the time deep within, there is a level of awareness of an object very dear to him. This awareness is private; he shows it to no one; yet it spills across and changes his outer life, colors his behavior, and gives new zest and glory to the daily round. Oh yes, we know what a mooning calf he may be at first, what a lovable fool about outward affairs. But when the loves gets things in focus again, and husband and wife settle down to the long pull of the years, the deep love-relation underlies all the raveling frictions of home life, and recreates them in the light of the deeper currents of love. The two levels are there, the surface and the deeper, in fruitful interplay with the creative values coming from the deeper into the daily affairs of life.
- taken from Reality of the Spiritual World by Thomas Kelly
Practicing the Presence of God - pt 2
When one becomes a lover of God, one's first experience of the Heavenly Splendor plows through one's whole being, makes one dance and sing inwardly, enthralls one in unspeakable love. Then the world, at first, is all out of focus; we scorn it, we are abstracted, we are drunken with Eternity. We have not yet learned how to live in both worlds at once, how to integrate our life in time fruitfully with Eternity. Yet we are beings whose home is both here and Yonder, and we must learn the secret of being at home in both, all the time. A new level of our being has been opened to us, and lo, it is Immanuel, God with us. The experience of the Presence of God is not something plastered on to our nature; it is the fulfillment of ourselves. The last deeps of humanity go down into the life of God. The stabilizing of our lives, so that we live in God and in time, in fruitful interplay, is the task of maturing religious life.
- taken from Reality of the Spiritual World by Thomas Kelly
Practicing the Presence of God - pt 3
We begin to live this mental life, this life at two levels by beginning NOW, wherever we are. Listen to these words outwardly. But, within, deep within, continue in steady prayer, offering yourself and all that you are to Him in simple, joyful, serene, unstrained dedication. Practice it steadily. Make it your conscious intention. Keep it up for days and weeks and years. You will be swept away by rapt attention to the exciting things going around you. Then catch yourself and bring yourself back. You will forget God for whole hours. But do not waste any time in bitter regrets or self-recriminations. Just begin again. The first weeks and months of such practice are pretty patchy, badly botched. But say inwardly to yourself and to God, "This is the kind of bungling person I am when I am not wholly Yours. But take this imperfect devotion of these months and transmute it into Your love."
Then begin again. And gradually, in months or in three or four years, the habit of heavenly orientation becomes easier, more established. The times of your wandering become shorter, less frequent. The stability of your deeper level becomes greater; God becomes a more steady background of all you reactions in the time-world. Down in this center you have a Holy Place, a Shekinah, where you and God hold sweet converse. Your outer behavior will be revised and your personal angularities will be melted down, and you will approach the outer world of people with something more life an outgoing divine love, directed toward them. You begin to love others, because you live in love toward God. Or the divine love flows out toward others through you and you become His pliant instrument of loving concern.
- taken from Reality of the Spiritual World by Thomas Kelly
Suffering through the heart of God
Formerly the world spread itself out before us, focused about ourselves. We were the center. All our enjoyment, of things and people, was for us, to exploit, to rearrange, to clamber over, to conquer. The effective limits of our world were the limits of its utility or importance for us. The world-managing attitude has reigned with peculiar force in modern times. And in this attitude, taken in solitary predominance, lie all the seeds of war. And in this world-managing epoch we all, as individuals and as nations, carry over into our working hours the fantasy-life of the daydreams, with its center in the conquering hero or the suffering hero. In this respect, the modern person tends to be far indeed from that spirit which is near to the center of religion, the final joyful submission of all one's being to the Holy, the feeling of absolute dependence.
But in the Eternal Presence, the world spreads itself out, not as our little world, but as the world of God. And we sigh; at last we awake. We must say it is given to us to see the world's suffering throughout, and bear it, Godlike, upon our shoulders, and suffer with all things and all people, and rejoice with all things and all people, and we see the hills clap their hands for joy, and we clap our hands with them. ...The suffering and the joy and the serenity at the heart of world - these are unspeakably great. Were one not assisted, one could not bear it. It is an awful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ...But there is a point of vision from which one can look through sorrow and pain and still see the face of the Eternal Lover.
...Without a protective covering of indifference, it seems rational to say we cannot endure the world. But the Eternal Presence, shining upon time, gives us, not a tough protection, but an exquisitely tendered spirit...Before, our chief suffering, the suffering about which we were disturbed, was our own suffering. The world's arrows were thought to be aimed at us. But with the great unselfing, the center of concern for suffering is shifted outside of ourselves and distributed with breadth unbounded among all, friends and so-called enemies. For a few agonized moments we may seem to be given to stand within the heart of the World-Father and feel the infinite sufferings of love toward all the Father's children. And pain inflicted on them becomes pain inflicted on ourselves. Were the experience not also an experience suffused with radiant peace and power and victory, as well as tragedy, it would be unbearable.
-taken from "Excerpts from The Richard Gary Lecture" in The Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly
The Seed of the Heavenly Dimensions of Humanity - Pt 1
Only those who go into the travail of today, bearing a seed within them, a seed of awareness of the heavenly dimensions of humanity, can return in joy. Where this seed of divine awareness is quickened and grows, there Calvary is enacted again in joy. And Calvary is still the hope of the world. Each one of us has the seed of Christ within. IN each of us the amazing and the dangerous seed of Christ is present. It is only a seed. It is very small, like the grain of mustard seed. The Christ that is formed in us is small indeed, but He is great with eternity. But if we dare to take this awakened seed of Christ into the midst of the world's suffering, it will grow.
Take a young man or woman in whom Christ is dimly formed, but one in whom the seed of Christ is alive. Put him into a distressed area, into a refugee camp, on a mission trip, into a poverty region. Let him go into the world's suffering, bearing this seed with him, and in suffering it will grow, and Christ will be more and more fully formed in him. As the grain of mustard seed grew so large that the birds found shelter in it, so the one who bears an awakened seed into the world's suffering will grow until he becomes a refuge for many.
This is one of the springs of hope - the certainty that the seed of Christ is in us allo and the confidence that many of those who call themselves Christian will enter suffering, bearing this seed with them, daring to let it germinate, daring to let it take them through personal risk and financial loss and economic insecurity; up the steep slopes of some obscure Calvary.
Ponder this carefully: Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not absolute. We dare not claim them as our absolute right. For the seed of Christ that we bear into the world's suffering will teach us to renounce these as our own, and strip us, in utter poverty of soul and perhaps of body, until our only hope is in the eternal goodness of God.
-taken from "Where are the Springs of Hope?" in The Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly
The Seed of the Heavenly Dimensions of Humanity - Pt 2
Humble people can bear the seed of hope. No religious dictator will save the world; no giant figure of heroic size will stalk across the stage of history today, as a new Messiah. But in simple, humble, imperfect people like you and me wells up the springs of hope. We have this treasure of the seed in earthen vessels. You and I know how imperfect we are. And yet those little demonstrations of love and goodwill, such as the feeding of children in poor countries, the reconstruction of lives of hurting people are being carried on by just such earthen vessels. These tasks shine like tiny candles in the darkness - deeds done in the midst of suffering, through which shines the light of the Living Christ, deeds that stir hop that humanity as a whole will be aroused to yield to the press and surge of the Eternal Love within them. For the Eternal Love is beating in upon us, upon you and upon me, quickening the seed within us into life. Our very weakness, as humans, is the fit soil for divine awakening. If you are proud and self-confident and sure you are no earthen vessel, then the greatness of the divine fructifying power will never be awakened in you. Yield yourselves to the growth of the seed within you, in these our days of suffering. Sow yourselves into the furrows of the world's pain, and hope will grow and rise high. Be not overcome by the imposing forces of evil and of might. Be of good cheer, says Jesus, I have overcome the world. But there is no hope if Calvary is only an external Calvary. Within you must be the Living Christ be formed, until you are led within yourselves to die wholly that you may wholly live. Then will Christ again walk the ways of the world's sorrows. In Him along, and in you so far as Christ is formed in you, is the hope of the world.
-taken from "Where are the Springs of Hope?" in The Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly
Self-surrender becomes complete when we accept all God's dealings with our souls as a gift of His grace and as a token of His love. Does God show His face and make us to sit down in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? Then thank God and be quietly but unboundedly grateful for His favor. Does God withdraw His inner consolation? Then thank God for the discipline He thus lays upon us, that we may be weaned away from dependence upon the highs and lows of mental changes and learn solely to cling to to Him, and learn to love God purely for His own sake, and not for His gifts.
For spiritual maturity is not tested by the frequency of our mystical moments of exaltation, but by the glad and calm serenity of will in Him which is ours when barrenness and dryness come upon us.
It is not alone that we are freed from the changing sunshine and shadow of spiritual dryness and spiritual elevation, as we seek down, deep, below both, into quiet, resting of will in the Eternal Goodness. We reach a wholly new evaluation of outward things, a new indifference to personal fortunes or to family as obscurity sets in. ...We grow blind to the petty valuations of the world. We grow blind to the petty eminences we have sought. We grow blind to the obscurity which is our lot, and, in no resentment, joyfully live in Eternity just where we are.
-taken from The Sanctuary of the Soul: Selected Writings of Thomas Kelly, page 63-64
If God be for us, who can be against us? Does profit-seeking as the main stem of business strike you as the root of great evils? There are no impossibilities to those who, in supreme dedication, are rooted deep in the Eternal Love. One shall overcome a thousand and two shall put ten thousand to flight, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. Creative, recreative, world-overturning living is possible when we as individuals and when the church as a fellowship become God-possessed channels through which the creative Love flows into the world of people. Serene, unhurried, undismayed, miraculous lives can be lived by you and by me, if we continuously will away the last vestige of claim upon ourselves and become wholly God-enthralled.
-taken from The Sanctuary of the Soul: Selected Writings of Thomas Kelly, page 67
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