After about three months of focused reading of a number of ancient spiritual mystics and modern psychologists who would be called spiritual mystics if they were ancient, a clear message has emerged: if you haven’t discovered God, then you haven’t looked and listened deeply enough within your own soul. Discover your true self and there you will discover the God who accepts you just as you are. You need only now to accept yourself just as you are. You may even need to forgive yourself, but mainly just for not accepting yourself.
As much as I have gleaned from what I have read–there is a lot of laudable stuff on the woes of technology and the unexamined life–I cannot help but confess that in my own experience of the infinite inward dive I have never found anything other than an infinite inward abyss. Now it may just be that I am especially void of any inborn divinity or particularly undiscerning of the God who is always within. It could be that my spirituality isn’t mystical enough or my psyche isn’t spiritual enough. I could just be an anomaly of godlessness in a world of demigods.
Whatever the case may be, if there are others out there like me who have looked soberly within to discover God and discovered nothing but the self standing in empty space, perhaps you will benefit from my path toward discovering God. But the following only applies to such as these.
Once you get to the bottom and discover there is in fact no ground beneath; once you see that there is no one else there accepting just as you are; after you’ve carefully listened for that eternal voice saying of you “This is my beloved in whom I am well please” and hear only hissing echoes of your own disguised persuasions; once your exhaustive inward search has led you only to despair–you may then be convinced to give up. If so, you are on the right path. But don’t give up. Instead, stop looking inside yourself for the God who accepts you just as you are, because perhaps God does not accept you just as you are. Stop listening for the voice that calls you beloved and is well-pleased with your life, because perhaps your life is not well-pleasing to God. And if you can entertain the notion that perhaps God does not accept you just as you are, that he is not well-pleased with your life, that you have not lived as his beloved, you really only have one last resort:
Turn around and look at the cross of Jesus Christ.
Once you begin looking, keep looking. I mean really look, like the way you look at yourself. Fix your eyes on him and there begin to listen–not to what the voice says about you but to what the voice says about him. Don’t confuse yourself with him, lest you mistake the well-pleasing waters of acceptance for the displeasing flow of forgiveness. Let the cross be the measure of your life and your love. And when you hold your gaze long enough, as though there were nowhere else to look for God, as though your life and love and hope depended on it, you will inevitably be confronted by just how displeasing you are just as you are, because your life and your love are nothing like the well-pleasing love of God revealed in the displeasing death of his beloved Son.
And if you discover your God there, it is there you will discover your true self–guilty. And when there you discover your true God and your true self, you will discover too that it is not divine acceptance that you need. It is divine forgiveness. But for that, you need not look anywhere else. Neither will you want to.
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord…For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” (Rom. 7:24-8:1).
Guilty, yes. Condemned, no.
“Worship the LORD in the beauty of his holiness; tremble before him all the earth” (Ps. 96:9).