December 1, 2008

a heart full of noise

Quotes from Seeking the Face of God by Gary Thomas

Chapter 6 - Cultivating the Quiet: Simplicity

"The sin many of us fall into is not that we shake our fists at God and defy Him to His face; that is the sin of unbelievers. Our sin is that we passively rebel against God, filling our lives with so much noise and busyness that God's voice cannot, or will not, penetrate."

"Cultivating the quiet is a painful experience when we are addicted to noise, excitement, and occupation. Opening the door to spiritual quiet can also open the door to spiritual fear and loneliness. It takes a great amount of courage to face God."

"[Blaise] Pascal believed that many young people live in a fundamentally dishonest existence, pretending they're having a good time while they live in constant terror of the truth of their hearts. Their "lives are all noise, diversions, and thoughts for the future. But take away their diversion and you will see them bored to extinction. Then they feel their nullity without recognizing it...""

[He cites Augustine as saying that adults do the same thing, but often cover their idleness by calling it "business." Ironic - and convicting.]

"Pascal said the boredom that drives us to diversion could be the catalyst that calls us to change -- if only we were not afraid to do the necessary work. But Satan offers us his narcotics* as alternatives..."

"The difficulty of simplicity is that it will, at times (especially in the early stages as we break our addiction to diversion), lead us into soul boredom, gloom, depression, and possibly even to despair... I would be less than honest if I suggested that one day our lives are filled with diversions and the next day we walk hand-in-hand with God in glorious rapture... We who have been drugged by diversions cannot expect to enter the quiet without a struggle. Our souls will roar for diversion, the fix that saves us from God's presence."

"God calls us into the quiet (Isaiah 30:15**), not to chastise us, but to draw us into a deeper communion with Him. If we are to quit hiding from God, we need to know why we hide."

"...alone before God, we stand naked and vulnerable. We won't be able to pretend anymore; before God, we will have the choice to obey or to disobey, but pretending will no longer be an option. If we are miserable, we will have to face our misery. If we are sad, we will have to face our sadness. When we dwell in God's presence we must dwell in truth; we cannot control the outcome."

"...I realized that if I insisted on becoming consumed by every major sporting event or political race, every move of the stock market, or even every worry of parenting, if I let these things seize my heart, I simply could not enter into a true celebration of the Sabbath or the joy of a baptism, or the Lord's Supper, or Christmas and Easter, or any other true and significant celebration."

"I have learned the necessity of "guarding my heart" (Proverbs 4:23***) because my heart does not have an infinite capacity to rejoice or be alarmed. By becoming preoccupied with passing things, I exhaust my heart's ability to care about the things that really do matter."

"Just as someone who is allergic to cats learns the beginning symptoms of a reaction and makes haste to get away, so we often unknowingly begin to learn the sensation of God breaking into our hearts and we rush into some activity or diversion to avoid His presence."

"Simplicity frees us from being tabloid Christians."

"Our instant information age pounds us with up-to-the-second details about many things we simply don't need to know. These incessant bulletins can weigh us down and root our thinking in transitory matters."

"The spiritual life is impossible in a heart full of noise and occupation. God will not fill a heart that has no room."

"I seek simplicity only because God is so great I want to strip away the clutter that keeps me from Him."

*By "narcotics" Thomas refers to all manner of diversions and self-focusing distractions -- TV, computers, sports, shopping, gossip, etc.

**Isaiah 30:15-16 - For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.

***Proverbs 4:23 - Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Chapter 5 quotes
(You can follow the link trail to prior chapter notes from there.)


Melissa said...

Coming out of lurkdom, here, to thank you for posting this series of quotes from Seeking the Face of God. I hadn't heard of the book before this, but these bits that I've read on your blog have given me much to think on. I believe my soul has been fed and helped by just the parts you've quoted.

I love the whole of your blog and have found so much here that we share. I thought of and prayed for you and yours over the last year as you battled breast cancer. I'm a six year survivor. And so thankful to be here.

God bless you and give you strength and joy in serving Him. Thanks again for taking the time to post this book series.

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

I wish I wasn't so busy right now because I would love to discuss some of these quotes at length. Thank-you for taking the time to type them all out.

Anonymous said...

I find myself checking the "hive" daily for new posts from "Seeking the Face of God". Thank you for distilling each chapter down to a few thought-provoking quotes. The truths set forth in this book are convicting and edifying all at once. May we all open our hearts and minds to these truths and be inspired to a higher level of Christian life. Thank you again and much love from my family to yours. Love, Pandy

Lynn Bruce said...

Thanks to all of you who are letting me know that these reading journals are blessing you. It does take time to type them up, yes -- but doing so has really helped me to dwell on the ideas, pull them apart, put them back together, think them through. The book is leaving a much deeper impression upon me because I'm journalling it here this way.

Plus, it's keeping me motivated to focus on finishing one book at a time -- I typically half-read a book and then start in on the next one in my stack and then I somehow neglect to go back and finish the one I laid aside... I'm afraid I'm notorious for that.

Yes, Miss Charlotte, a habit is still ten natures, even in 2008...

Oh, and Cindy -- come back whenever you find a minute. I'll still be here, and so will the posts! I've been a "slow blogger" since way before slowblogging was cool.

Owl of the Desert said...

I especially enjoyed this post today. I've really been dwelling on drawing closer to God and what that means and looks like. What a beautiful picture is painted here...quietness and simplicity. Removing all the distractions so we really can walk with God. What a task, but what a blessing!

I love the verses you put at the bottom. I started reading through Isaiah a couple of days ago, and have really been blessed in my reading. There are so many tidbits and gleanings! I haven't reached chapter 30 yet, but when I do, this verse will be underlined!

Thank you again, QS, for posting these. Truly a blessing to read.

Laura A said...

I've really been enjoying this series, too! I have some thoughts, but also need to think on them more. I'm glad you're a slowblogger. I like that concept!

Sheila Atchley said...

Dear Lynne,
Allright, already. You got me. I've gone online and ORDERED this book. I absolutely cannot stand one minute more of not having it in my own possession.

You sly blogger, you. :-) It's what you wanted all along, isn't it? (For your readers to buy a Really Great Book, and be changed forever by what lies between the front and back covers...)

You are a dear.