I am not an expert

May 27, 2009

I write about the spiritual life, but I am not an expert. I would argue that there are no experts when it comes to a relationship with God, there are only individuals who are willing to enter the present moment and meet God there. When one is in the present, everyone is a beginner, starting fresh with the givens of that moment, and then in the next moment, one begins again in the present; in every present moment we are faced with the same freshness, the same kind of potential, but God is the only expert in the present, because it is His Spirit that we encounter there, that invites us to enter.

There are definitely experts in religion, theologists, preachers, and professors of religion who have studied the texts and teach us about them. They are experts, but that knowledge is only an introduction into the life of the Spirit. The texts support the life, introduce the life, but they are not the life. For that one needs to turn towards God, to spend time with him, to listen to him as well as talk to him. As one commits to spending time with God and turns over more and more of his life to God, then that person becomes acquainted with what God wants, how he communicates, what pleases him. With each person that relationship with God is very different, what one person does as part of his commitment to God will not be the call of another. God speaks to us so privately, so in tune with who we are and what we need to do in the now;  what works for one person may do nothing for another.

This is one reason why there are no experts in the spiritual life. No one has ever had the kind of relationship with God that you will have. This is not to say that someone else cannot be helpful. There is a lot of wisdom in various books, God will point out the ones you should read. There are companions or guides along the way, God will introduce you to the one you need. Having a spiritual director, for instance, means that someone else who has some general knowledge about the spiritual life plus their own experience, will listen to your concerns, offer some assurance, if necessary, ask some questions, and raise the issues that God wants you to address, but will not guide you in the process. Only God can do that. Going to retreats can be very helpful, listen to God in order to discern which retreats are for you. Also listen to God’s call about what spiritual practices he calls you to.

God is the expert on the spiritual life, all our efforts should put him first, seek out his will, get to know him, learn to really love him, and do what he asks of you. I am not an expert, but I bring an invitation to you to go way deeper in your relationship with God.

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