Yielding To Christianity

Patricia Hofer

Consciousness

Continuum of consciousness explored in Living Strong.

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The Lord’s unseen and continuing companionship

Larger than all our loneliness, Stronger than all our willful cries, Calmer with each new forgiveness, Shines saving Christ love from his eyes. (Living Calm 2016)

We are born wanting to control our world in ways that please us. As I’ve so often quoted, we want to “be as gods” (KJ Gen. 3:5). Which to me means that we actually don’t want to be God or even be like God (as some translations say). But we do want to operate as a god, controlling our own personal little corner of the world.

And yet living in that small space can be very lonely. No other human being can actually know what’s in our heart. And so it’s easy to spend most of our natural lives running around in circles, willfully and desperately, trying to fill or satisfy the loneliness inside, loneliness that I had a lot of for a few years.

A few months after my saving moment experience, I was visiting my parents and thinking how nice it had been to spend a few days with other people in the house. I clearly recall opening the stairway door so I could run up and get my things to fly back to my solitary life in Boston. And then I stood still in amazement at the clarity of this thought—Christ was right there with me and would always be there with me. I’d never be alone again.

Which is why I now say, we are all alone inside ourselves until we open ourselves to the Lord. The Saviour knows the lonely “me” that lives in consciousness, the part that no one can know. And it is in this unseen part of us where Christ’s smile of comfort and forgiveness and healing happen. As Jesus says, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (NRSV John 14:23). His unseen and continuing companionship is the Lord’s wonderful surprise.

Christ’s “larger, stronger, quieter life”

Living larger, stronger, calmer Is what the Saviour comes to show To his Father’s loved and loving Children who labor here below. (Living Calm 2016)

Christian theologians have spent centuries attempting to explain who Jesus Christ was and is. His salvation and sacrifice. His forgiveness and compassion. His continuing comfort and peace. And many theological doctrines can be helpful as ways for us to experience or to embrace what Christ taught.

But it’s clear to me now, and has been ever since my conversion experience, that these joys of salvation are not things we can arrive at through self-effort. They are not personality changes we ourselves can initiate in any permanent way. And so, as Lewis wrote, we need to stand back each day from our “natural fussings and frettings.” Abandoning our natural pride and self-centered focus, we can then begin “listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in” (Mere Christianity, “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”).

What has helped me in this daily yielding is seeing how often Jesus did it, how many times Christ stepped back, honoring his Father and diminishing himself. He says, for example, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (NIV John 5:19). And yet again Jesus says, “By myself I can do nothing; … for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (NIV John 5:30). And then, of course, at Gethsemane Jesus prays to his Father, saying, “not my will, but yours be done” (NIV Luke 22:42).

This self-abnegation that the Lord practiced towards his Father, so often and so effortlessly, is only possible for you and I now and then, one moment here, one moment there. But, because we are the Father’s “loved and loving children,” abandoning self-interest could occur more and more—if we’d let it. The question then becomes, how available to Christ’s “larger, stronger, quieter life” are we going to allow ourselves to be?

Day-by-Day Series

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