Thoughts for the Month

March

Today, I was looking through a collection of quotations and sayings; one stood out. ‘If you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God you have found.’

This was said by Thomas Merton, an American Catholic monk and writer. Born in 1915, he was educated in England, France and the U.S. He taught English at Columbia University before entering a Trappist order in Kentucky. In 1949 he was ordained a priest. His early works on spiritual themes include poetry collections; the autobiographical ‘Seven Storey Mountain’ (1948) brought him international fame and led many readers to the monastic life; and the ‘Waters of Siloe’ (1949), a history of the Trappists. In the 1960s his writings tended toward social criticism, Eastern philosophy and mysticism. He died in an accident in December 1968.

Regardless of which branch of Christianity or indeed which other religion one follows, this statement surely must make one think.Is believing in and following God easy? Should it be? Last year, before I saw this quotation, I went through a lot of ‘heart searching.’ I realised that, for me, religion had become rather ‘automatic,’ less questioning, far too accepting. I went to church, said my prayers, but familiarity with the church service and ‘busy-ness’ with all sorts of every day home and church matters were hindering me from really looking at, and searching for, God and the life he wanted me to lead. Yes, it was all too easy. Where was my ‘faith?’ Where was it going and how was it growing?

Too often, we get too comfortable with our way of life, too insular. We forget that the life God wants us to lead is not necessarily easy. Yes, we are very good at saying all the right words but, do our actions live up to what we say? In the Old Testament Amos warns God’s people ‘Alas for those who are at ease in Zion.’  (Amos Ch. 6 v. 1) Jesus says ‘For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Stand up and walk?” (Matthew Ch. 9 v.5) I am not for one minute suggesting that we can do what Jesus did, but, it is true, isn’t it, that it is very easy to say the right words and in so doing assume that we must be living our lives as God would have us and therefore, we have a right relationship with God?

But, do we? ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;’   (Matthew Ch. 15 v.8) Here, Jesus reminds the Pharisees and Scribes of the words of Isaiah that words and rituals are not enough. If we look carefully and honestly at our lives and the relationship we have with God, is it what it should be?

I admit mine wasn’t – my heart-searching showed me that I needed to spend more time reading the Scriptures, more time thinking about what the Scriptures mean, more time talking to and especially listening to God. Only then, would I see the path I should be following and if I followed it, would I truly find God.

Like most things, if achievement is too easy, is it really an achievement?

Finding God is a lifetime’s journey; it is not easy; it is not a one off, ‘I have found God.’ It is a continuous building of a relationship that at times is very one-sided but which, if we persevere, will lead us to the gates of Heaven and the day when we can truly say, ‘I have found God.’


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Page last updated: 1st Mar 2017 7:01 PM