Thursday, August 12, 2010

Transparency

While on vacation this summer, both in Hawaii and New Hampshire, my wife and I enjoyed many hours swimming. Actually we mostly floated on inflatable tubes. As we drifted many yards from shore, we marveled at the clarity of the Hawaiian ocean and the New Hampshire lakes. In both locales the water was virtually transparent.

The word “transparency” is used a lot these days in the news. People talk about transparency in economic matters and transparency in government. I want transparency in spiritual matters. I am not talking about religious affairs. It would be nice if religious organizations were more transparent, but I do not expect that to happen. Religious institutions tend to build more walls than windows.

I want transparency in prayer. When I pray, it is the darkness of my own soul that I want to eliminate. I know intellectually that God sees me clearly just as I am; I cannot hide anything from the Lord. But I want to experience that transparency. I want to see God as clearly as God sees me ... and live to tell the tale. I want to see myself as God sees me, and see God as Jesus sees God. I want transparency of soul.

But when I kneel to pray, I find myself in muddy water. There is murkiness in the depths of my heart. When I consciously attempt to be more fully open to the presence of God, my soul shoots out an ink screen like an octopus. My emotions instinctively try to protect me from God. My sins drag me into the windowless back rooms of my soul.

My mind plays games to avoid transparency. One of those mind games is thinking profound thoughts. Part of me thinks that if I can fill my mind with spiritual thoughts, then that is sufficient. But doctrines are not enough. Theological thoughts can be helpful aids to approaching God, especially in the early stages of the spiritual life. But in my experience they are often barriers to experiencing the God who is higher than our thoughts.

So the goal of my time of prayer is to become transparent to the Holy Spirit. I seek to be a clear window, without dust to obscure the view. I want there to be no distortions, no filters between God and me. I want to be over my head in deep water so clear that I can see God’s face.

So I calm the waters of the heart and silence the chatter of my mind. Prayer for me is not reciting a wish list of things I want God to do for me. Prayer is not trying to bend God’s will to fit my idea of how things ought to be on earth; it is submitting my will to God without a ripple of dissent.

Prayer is more about seeing God than influencing God. It is more about being in the will of God than changing the mind of God. It is about being transparent, so that I can see God, and others can see God through me. Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” That is transparency - to be unseen, so that Christ may be seen through us.
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Art is “Gate of Eden” by Ben Goossens.

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