September 6, 2001
From the
Mailbag

AWAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY

GLAD TO HEAR THAT you are still basking in God's Presence and being "wowed" by His love! God's love surely is the very heart of life, both here and hereafter, once we've been truly awakened to it by the telling touch of His Spirit,

"How can we keep from singing?"

Talking, reading and writing about the precious gift of contemplative prayer certainly has genuine value for all concerned, but what is most needed, today and always, is the actual experience of its reality. You might say that each of us is a kind of "sleeping beauty" awaiting the "kiss of God" to awaken us to His eternal gift of unconditional love.

Contemplative prayer opens us to receive and reciprocate this "kiss" -- to live in intimate love relationship with Him and with all in Him, now and forever!

"How can we keep from singing?"

Praying for God's continued blessing on your ministry.

-- M.Y. - Dallas, TX


TRULY KNOWING GOD

I AM FORTY-ONE YEARS OLD, and I have been married five years. I was raised in the church, mostly the Baptist church. When I was nine years old, I made a decision for Christ at a Nazarene revival meeting. Since then I have had seasons that I would describe as being close to God, and other seasons when I was not very close to Him. I went to a Bible school many years ago as an adult; I've been involved in very intense churches; I have been on worship teams; yes, quite a bit of "doing," yet in these last couple of years it has become very clear to me that I do not know Jesus!

As I have been re-reading portions of the Bible in recent years, I have been noticing, almost for the first time, the Bible's message of truly knowing God. Jesus talked about it; God communicated it through many of the prophets. This theme has been hitting me while being a very busy Baptist. I've responded with anger, confusion, wonder, weariness.

So this winter my wife and I tried to do a study in our small group that focused on personally knowing God. This has been a trying time. It seems to me that the default response of all humans is activity. In my heart, especially this past year, I have felt a quiet call to stillness, to shutting down the busyness of my life, to pruning the unnecessary things from my life. This was the perspective I brought to to our group.

However, my wife and I seem to be the only ones with this perspective. While the study focused on personal time with God, there was still a strong emphasis on activity: "finding out what God's assignment is for you or your church" -- which really bugged me!

One of the most vivid images I have read recently regarding our relationship with God is that of a piece of iron being placed in the red-hot coals of a fire. The iron becomes red-hot like the coals, yet remains distinct from the coals. Then, of course, the idea emerges that if you remove the iron from the coals the iron will have a new influence wherever you place it, an influence not its own -- and an influence that remains only as the iron continually spends time in the coals.

All of this and more has been going through my head the last couple of years though it was only this Spring that I encountered Union Life magazine. Being instead of doing! Prayer during which you actually shut your mouth and just be with your Lord Jesus! Quite honestly, I am still whirling somewhat at the discovery of all of this. I am struggling with all the years of "doing" theology that I grew up with. I must say that there is something that really rings true in everything I have read so far from you.

Recently, my wife and I read Open Mind Open Heart (by Thomas Keating), and during the Summer we attended a Centering Prayer conference. We are beginning to integrate the prayer into our daily devotional lives and we especially appreciate your contribution to this area of our lives.

-- C. M. - Lakeland, MN


GOD'S FINGERPRINTS

I LEARNED OF Centering Prayer in 1984, and nothing ever changed or made more real my walk with Jesus, not since I was saved in 1961! You can imagine my joy when I learned you had discovered it too. And to think that all of you embraced it is a wonder to me. Most of those with whom I share think it sounds wonderful, but don't embrace it for themselves.

I am a biology teacher at a women's college and centering prayer has opened nature to me as God's very fingerprints. Every single process is incredibly complex and beautiful, and reveals His loving ways.

See you on the web.

-- K.H. - Wilmore, KY


NEVER THE SAME

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, a dear friend loaned me a copy of Union Life magazine. It was the "Letting Go" issue (May/June, '96). God grabbed hold of my heart and the transformation began.

My life has never been the same. Never tougher. Never more wonderful. So many articles have deepened my walk with God in ways that I'll never find words to describe. Thank you.

-- G.B. - Madison, WI


FEEDING MY SOUL

I THANK YOU FOR the many years of feeding my soul and stirring the truth which was already in my center. May your ministry spring up in a new life so that the words of truth can continue to feed the multitudes of hungry souls.

God bless you.

-- D.H. - Yonkers, NY


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