I had an insightful conversation recently with Randy Harris about the spiritual life.
Randy, giving credit to the work of Martin Laird in Into the Silent Land, described three postures of discipleship.
“The first operates from up here,” Randy said, moving his hand up by his head. “Here we work out of our brilliance, out of our giftedness, out of our understandings.”
I suspect that most young people (twentysomethings down) take this posture in life and discipleship. Perhaps this suspicion is rooted in my own admission that I’ve lived most of my life out of this posture – and, as you’ll see, it’s nothing to be proud of.
“The second [posture] operates from here,” moving his hand back and forth further down by his chest. “Here we work out of a keen awareness of our own brokenness, our limitations, our struggles and turmoil.”
In the past few years habitual patterns of sin (like anger, pride and lust) moved me to this posture of discipleship. It reminds me of the words of a graduate school professor who said that we twentysomething seminarians needed a few more years of struggling with sin so that we could recognize the depth of humanity’s brokenness (and our own).
“There’s a third way that operates from here, ” Randy said as he moved his hand down by his waist in the chair he was sitting in. “We hardly have language to describe this place. So few find it. It is the deep ground of God.”
“What exactly is this deep ground?” I asked.
“It’s God. It’s God in us. It’s your true self. It’s the Holy Spirit. It’s silence. It’s the place where you stare down your brokenness in silence and tell it to back off. It’s the Center.”
He’s right – I’m not sure even how to describe it. But I think it’s the place where we discover God. Where we encounter God. And after the encounter, where we sit in deep peace.
I’ve only touched the edge of the deep ground’s garment in my life – if that.
The key, Randy says, is to find the deep ground of God in contemplation (silence) and then begin to live out of it in every moment of our daily lives. That journey lasts a lifetime.
Laird adds that “union with God not something we are trying to acquire; God is already the ground of our being.” The real issue in finding the deep ground is to realize that “we live, move and have our being in God” – that we, in fact, are already rooted in the deep ground, though not consciously aware of it.
The extent to which we realize we are rooted is God is the extent to which we live out of the deep ground. Such realization is the work of contemplation and silence.
I’m eager to find this deep ground. It’s exciting to think that the deep ground is as deep as God is big, and that I can spend the rest of my life exploring it.
What about you? In what ways do you identify with these three postures of discipleship? Which posture are you currently living out of?