Dwell with God (Friday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
Friday Week 1
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
Here is the great mystery: Christ in you. Not a few galaxies away. Not a few continents away. Not a few miles away. Not even a few inches away. No, Christ in you.
Christ in you, with all of your self-sabotaging ways. Christ in you, with all of your burdening doubts. Christ in you, with all of your past infidelities. Christ in you, even in the Ash-Wednesday-dust of your creatureliness. Christ in you.
The story is told of the great 15th century saint, Catherine of Genoa, who was so utterly consumed by this extraordinary truth that she ran through the streets declaring, “My deepest me is you, Oh God! My deepest me is you!”[i] Can you imagine the strength and security in one who would risk humiliation to declare this profound reality?
Because we’ve blown it time and again, it is quite easy to believe that what resides in us is nothing but darkness. Shame in you. Pain in you. Brokenness in you. But St. Paul and St. Catherine heartily disagree. Here is the mystery: Christ in you.
Why does it take so long to embrace this? The hard and sad reality is that there is a conspiracy of our own self-sabotaging voices matched by the twisted obsession some pastors have with telling people how bad they are. I’ve often told pastoral colleagues, “You don’t need to convince people that they’re bad. They feel it already.” We live in a shame-and-guilt saturated culture, and it doesn’t take much for the old, dark internal scripts to play again. In fact, the self-esteem movement of the late-twentieth century tried to remedy this, but it only compounded our sense of unworthiness.[ii]
Sin, you see, is a rejection of your original goodness. It is a sabotaging of your original beauty. It is your silly attempt to find love on the outside when the Christ in you reality is that it’s already yours.
The great 5th century Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, expressed his own regret about how long it took for him to get this. As you reflect on his words, perhaps it’s not too late for you not only to believe this, but to experience it in the depths of your own spirit:
Late have I loved you, oh Beauty ever old, ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me, and I was outside myself and it was there that I sought you and, myself disfigured, I rushed upon the beautiful things you have made. You were with me but I was not with you.[iii]
Oh Beauty ever old, ever new. It has been too long. I have been busily trying to prove myself while you’ve been at home in me all the while. I have been frustratingly scattered in my love while you’ve been loving me from within all the while. Welcome me home, I pray. Amen
[i] See Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2013), p. 5.
[ii] See the work of Kristin Neff, University of Texas (Austin) researcher, including her book Self Compassion.
[iii] St. Augustine, Confessions 10.27.38