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Going Deep into Yourself to Know God

Posted on May 20th, 2011

It was Meister Ekhart, a Dominican writer from the 13th century, who wrote: “No one can know God who does not know himself.”  Teresa of Avila said, “Almost all problems in the spiritual life stem from a lack of self-knowledge.” I am convinced that discerning God’s will, especially for leaders with diverse interests like myself, requires  an ever-deepening knowledge of oneself. Without it we find ourselves beyond our limits and overloaded. (Commitment to Scripture and the willingness to do God’s will, of course, is assumed). Why? Because God reveals Himself through what we cannot not do. He made us that way. The following story comes from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke as he advises a young man wondering if he should be a poet. The counsel applies to each of us as we sort out God’s priorities:

“You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now…I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward and that above all should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reasons that bid you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple, “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity…”

This kind of knowing, of course, takes time – lots of it.

What is your response to Rilke’s counsel, “Now you must go into your own heart as onto a vast plain?”

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Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives