Show me your ways. O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Which word best describes your life, activity or receptivity?
The life of the Spirit is not one of incessant activity, but of continual receptivity. That means we don’t merely charge off in a direction and hope that God comes along for the ride, we actually start by stopping. We ask God, as David did, for his wisdom and direction and guidance, then we listen for his answer. Only then do we spring into action. Otherwise it is just activity for activity’s sake; which does no one any good.
“When we pray without listening,” Eugene Peterson writes, “we pray out of context.” That is because it all starts with God, not with us, even in prayer. Ours is to maintain a stance of humble receptivity, to continually realize that, apart from God’s leadership and guidance, we don’t really know what to do. Thus, the first movement of the spiritual journey, Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us, is to “cast ourselves at his feet” and to “kneel before the Lord, our maker.” Only when we start there do we have any real hope of living the life God most wants us to live.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. (Psalm 25:9)