A Knowing That Goes Beyond Words

I am a learner by nature. I am always curious and always want to know everything about everything.
It drives my husband a little crazy. He often feels that I am giving him the third degree about his opinions, while I think I am only being curious about why he thinks the way he thinks.
We’ve both had to learn a lot during our 17 years of marriage.
My penchant for learning and research serves me well in many areas.
In some ways, it also serves me well in my walk with God.
In other ways, however, this piece of who I am has shown itself to hinder my knowing God.
There are different ways of knowing someone.
It is helpful in a relationship to know about a person, to know their character, to know what they have done and how they think.
You do have to know about someone to be able to know them.
Yet this alone is insufficient.
This is not truly knowing someone.
God delights in being known by us. He wants us to seek for Him, to seek after knowledge of Him.
He also wants to make Himself known to us, and He often makes Himself known through other means than our logical mind.
… (at times) God no longer communicates himself through the senses. He does not make himself known through the analytical mind, which synthesizes and divides ideas. Instead, he begins to come through pure spirit, through simple contemplation, untainted by discursive thought. ~ St. John of the Cross in Dark Night of the Soul
St. Ignatius of Loyola, an early 16th century Spanish priest and theologian, wrote a series of prayers and meditations to help people seek after the will of God and devote themselves wholly to Him. As a part of the instructions, he writes that it is by contemplating the nature of God that a person will deepen his understanding of God and divine grace,
… for it is not an abundance of knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul but rather an interior understanding and savoring of things.
I hunger after that abundance of knowledge, but God is teaching me that this kind of knowledge is not enough.
Hungering after the knowledge of God is good and right, and it is insufficient on its own.
There must be a knowing that goes beyond facts, beyond words. There must be a deeper knowing that leads to falling in love.
Madeleine L’Engle puts it this way:
There is a kind of knowing that comes in silence and not in words — but first we must be still. ~ in Walking on Water
I have been learning this way of knowing, this knowing that comes out of being still before God, and I will testify that it is deeply satisfying.
Knowing about God leaves me thirsty for more.
Knowing God fills me to overflowing.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: Fairy Tales by Jessie Willcox Smith; all other photographs are my own, copyright Made Sacred 2021

This is what we are desperate for in this chaotic world_ an inner peace and joy that remains in us as we begin to look more like Jesus. This is what God promises us as we learn to abide in him. copy
Want to know more? Click here to learn about my book.

A Sneak Peek Just for You!


A sneak peek just for you, my subscribers, from one of the chapters of my new book, Beyond the Front Door, which will be available on February 10. Enjoy!

Our culture has instilled in us a pride in our busyness.
We brag about how little free time we have, how many vacation days we have built up from disuse, how many activities in which we have involved our children. We feel, in fact, a sense of shame if we don’t have work or play scheduled on the weekends.
We run and we hurry and in the middle of our running and hurrying we wonder how in the world — how in this fretful, busy world — we could possibly still feel empty. So we ramp up the running and the hurrying in an attempt to drown out the loneliness.
Why is it so hard to jump off this carousel?
We want to cram more and more into our schedules. Regardless of how full our lives are, however, we are increasingly empty inside.
“Busyness acts to repress our inner fears and personal anxieties, as we scramble to achieve an enviable image to display to others. We become ‘outward’ people obsessed with how we appear, rather than ‘inward’ people, reflecting on the meaning of our lives.”
We do not, however, need to prune our lives of all busyness.
The truth, it turns out, is more nuanced than that.
The truth is that busyness is not always a negative occurrence as long as you have regular rhythms of stillness in place in your life as well. The problem comes when you have a life that is full of busyness with a complete dearth of any times of stillness.
Jesus’ own life shows this rhythm of ministry busyness and alone-with-God stillness. A rhythm in which both busyness and stillness involve an intimate connection with God.
When we read the gospels, we discover his almost constant action throughout — coming, going, crowding, teaching, healing — and Jesus is regularly withdrawing from all of this activity, regularly going to a place of solitude to pray.
When our lives are full of work and activity with no times of respite, we become exhausted and anxious. When we have an overabundance of time, we become bored and struggle to find purpose in life.
God taught us about rhythms at the very beginning of the nation of Israel.
In the same passage later quoted by Jesus as the Greatest Commandment, Moses is giving instruction about when they arrive in the Promised Land.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Moses tells the people they should keep God in their hearts and minds, they should talk about God, talk to God, listen to God, both when they are still and when they are busy.
… when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way …
This is why these disciplines of silence and solitude and lectio divina are so necessary to our lives.
Having rhythms of being alone with God and his Word are the way we are healed by the Holy Spirit from this illness of being busy.
Daily rhythms, as well as longer monthly and annual rhythms, of being still are the way we put ourselves in a place where God can fill us up with himself.
Having rhythms of taking time out of our busyness to gaze at the Lord, taking the time to sit at his feet and learn how to abide in him, making our home in him, this is the cure for our illness.