Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Responding to Spiritual Yearning to Come Closer to God


Many of us experience some kind of unexplainable spiritual yearning to be closer to God. We may already be regular church goers, but there is an inner urging that is trying to get our attention that has not totally broken through.  This is the grace that we gain at our baptism struggling to be heard.  After our Baptism it is unnatural for us to be separated from God and we tend to live with a restless spirit within trying to gain our attention.

As soon as you experience this spiritual yearning, you need to make a conscious choice about responding to it.  Saint Theophan the Recluse says "You need to examine the matter thoroughly and make a firm and unyielding decision, being aware of all the labors, obstacles and difficulties which lie ahead, so hat you may stand up to them with courageous inspiration until the end of your life."1

As you begin to examine it, first, decide if you truly believe this is God within you calling you to be with him.  If you think this to be true, then you will have a desire to act on it.  You will think this is important for you eternal life with God in heaven and who does not want to go to heaven?  But, just having this desire is not sufficient.  Saint Theophan advises us, "You need to resolve firmly to begin a process of labor towards this."2

Here is how he says a desire is fulfilled:
In order for a desire to be fulfilled, it is necessary to elevate it to the level of firm intention or decision, and it is necessary for the heart to say within itself, "No matter what happens, I will obtain such-and-such a deed." Once this has been pronounced within the heart, their immediately begins a thinking out of how to realize what has been decided.3


A firm decision to act is important but still not sufficient.  You need to actually take some action. Hoping that God will make you do what is necessary is not sufficient.  You need to activate your will to respond to God's nudging. God never forces Himself on anyone and awaits your action. You may or may not know clearly what you need to do.  It may be to begin a more disciplined prayer life, to prepare for Confession or some other established ascetic activity prescribed by the Church.  If it's clear, then do it. If not, then take action to see your spiritual Father for help.  If you do not have one, then act to find and go see one.  Even if you do know what to do, if its not something you have already discussed with your spiritual Father then you should meet with him to get his view on your action you are about to take. 

Above all, do not to procrastinate and to let this desire subside.  This inner yearning is a gift you have been given by the Holy Spirit and each time you ignore its working within you, the less likely it will be for it to return.  To procrastinate is affirming that other things in your life are more important than your relationship with God.  This is exactly what the devil wants you to do.  As your worldly activities take over, the nudging from within weakens, and you end up doing nothing.  The opportunity is lost for you to act and the desire is no longer with you. Your separation from God grows even greater.

Saint Theophan says, that if you do not choose grace "it will abandon you completely, and leave you in the hand of your self-will."4


1 p. 137
2 p. 138
3 p. 139
4 p. 129

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