Diving under the surface on the reef in New Guinea where I grew up revealed another world - a beautiful one with untold treasures to experience. When we dare to go beneath the surface to the interior world of our hearts this is also true...spiritually.
So much in our world and, sadly, our church cultures draw us to the external world – to the surface of things. The true God adventure will always express God's love in the external world (Jesus taught that the fruit of a tree tells us about the tree, and the supreme fruit of the God-life is love), but will first find its vision and motivation with a discovery of God's love beneath the surface of things in the interior world. Otherwise, we are left being busy earning God's love by doing “right” things or addressing our fears and insecurities by trying to gain control financially or by securing power.
This is NOT the God adventure, even if it has Christian clothing.
To tap into the adventure Jesus was on we must dip beneath the surface to the interior world – to the place in our hearts (our inner being) into which the Holy Spirit pours God’s love (Romans 5:8). This is where we move beyond appearances to connect with our need for God’s grace. It is where we hear God. Where his love registers and where the God adventure finds its shape in us.
What does it take? Solitude, silence, meditation, contemplation….the sorts of practices which allow what is going on inside us to come alive. Remember: this is the place where God speaks so this conversation comes alive there too! But if we can’t draw away from the busyness of the external life we are like a scuba diver flailing around on the surface of the water. The treasures of the world beneath the surface are so close but remain hidden. We are “Jesus People” but cannot tap into his adventure. We buzz around spiritually and do good but lack peace, power and experiences of the glorious freedom prepared for the children of God (Romans 8:21).
Many religions champion the idea of solitude, silence and contemplation. Humans were made for camel travel, and the sheer pace and complexity of life today bombards our brains with adrenalin and other chemicals which affect our mental health. So I can see that just being still alone has great benefit. But of course as we bring our interior world to life and seek the presence of God we don’t just address the effects of brain chemical overload but relate with God or encounter him and his love in a life-transforming way. For example, Saint Ignatius understood that when we encounter God’s love we find inner peace: “It is richer than ordinary peace because it is not a lack of noise or a mood, but it is a relational grace, guarding my heart” - the inner security that God will always be with/for us.
Such discoveries beneath the surface in the interior world of our hearts transform our lives and invigorate our souls to join Jesus in his adventure.
If you seek more with God, it’s time to venture beneath the surface to the interior world.