The Fire, The River and a Sword

Several years ago I decided that I wasn't going to be a Christian and sing flowery songs of worship about having rivers of living water flowing out of my soul if I didn't actually experience it. If I give my life to this faith, if I'm going to believe that it's true, then I'm going to prove it true in my life. What I sing of, what I declare, what I say I believe, I will experience and understand.

A big part of my journey over recent years has been meditating. I meditate for an hour a day. It's an exercise of the soul to develop focus and cultivate mental strength. Along with these qualities I've found it bringing enormous healing to my soul, a topic I have waiting in the wings to write about. As well as meditating for an hour a day I pray for two to three hours a day. This wasn't something I intended to do, it just sort of grew out of exercising and using the time to reach out to God with body, soul and spirit. Trying to push everything within me to reach deeper into what I'm dedicating who I am to.

Although I call it prayer that's mainly because I have no other suitable word for it, it's not prayer as I used to know or understand it. I long to know more of God, to know more of the life of God. As I've meditated I've become aware that I am (and everyone else!) a much bigger person than I ever imagined. In terms of healing it's been a long and slow process because there's simply so much of me, my memories and my past, that is tangled up and needs freeing. I often sing of worshipping God "with all that is within me", and I've been realising that "all that is within me" is so much more than I thought it was! So I stretch and reach, wrestle and grapple, to take all of who I am - all my soul, all my desires, all my imaginings, all my longing, everything I am, everything I've been - and turn it towards God. It's the same reaching out to God as in worship. A big part of this has been wrestling to find God - where is the life, where is the power, where's God?! And within that search I find life, and as I'm picked up by the winds I connect with situations that are in my heart and that I also have longings for and pour in life and hope and faith. I wrestle and grapple for the life of God in people's situations and I wrestle for more of the life of God in the church. There are very few words in my prayer.

Jesus said the hungry will be satisfied and this is the secret to spiritual life. Get hungry. Really hungry. Spiritual hunger, the longing for God and for life, is something that comes from deep within. Much further, much deeper, than the rational mind (that loves to think it's in charge) can reach. In psychological terms we might say it is taking the raw force of the id and turning it towards God. All our impure desires, our greed and lust, are this force - this power of humanity - that can be renewed and made into something pure.

As I reach into God, reach into the spiritual and long for him with all my might I have (or had) a kind-of-mantra, a watchword that expresses and guides my longing and pushes me forwards. The watchword was "The fire and a sword". I want the fire of God, I want all I am to blaze with life because I know it's possible. And if that's possible what else would you live for? I want the fire that is substance and life, that takes hold of people, that changes and transforms, that heals and frees. I want the fire. And I want a sword. I want to fight. It's a dark difficult world, and I've walked a path of pain (of my own making). I know what it feels like to have lost everything and be utterly alone. And I'm angry. I want to fight.

A few weeks ago something unexpected happened. I broke through to the river of life, just to the edge but I touched it. I don't know what you imagine when you think of the river of life. I've always thought of a peaceful babbling brook, something soothing. This wasn't like that, it was full of life! Noisy life, bright and bustling and strong. I felt that if I touched it I would be dragged off. This was no babbling brook, it was alive. That's what I want flowing from my soul - life!

So now my guiding mantra is "The Fire, The River and a Sword".

"The greatest trick the devil plays is not to make us believe he doesn't exist, but to make us believe he's winning."


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