Here is a quote from Augustine that I read some years ago. At the time I know it was speaking to my spiritual condition, but I did not quite know how to make the application to my walk with God. Here is the quote. “My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide.”
When I could finally begin to accept my own “dark side”, not pretending or denying that it was a part of me, I was able to look within myself and see the ruins that Augustine talked about. The reality was that there was much that did not please my heavenly Father. With Augustine I was able to start saying “this I know and do not hide.” I was able to pray with the Psalmist. “When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out: I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.'” (Ps 32:3-5 – The Message) The pressure of trying to hide my darkness prevented me from experiencing the vitality of God’s life that was already within my soul. Jesus tells us, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.” (John 15:4 – The Message)
In the denial of my inner darkness, I became focused more on me then on the presence of God within my soul. This wrong focus shrunk my inner capacity to experience the presence of God. My soul could only be enlarged when I was willing to explore all that God was showing me about my inner life. I had to welcome the good with the bad, since the bad was really a part of who I was. God was not asking me to change my inner life, to make more room for the presence of God. He was simply wanting me to give him access to the various rooms were all the darkness resided. He would do the cleansing and what I like to call the rearranging of the furniture so that I could receive the light of his presence.
I confess to the readers of this blog that I have a long ways to go in allowing God to enlarge my soul. But I can testify that the freedom and peace that comes in the enlarging is a gift from God. I cannot explain what happens. All I know is that when I become more honest with myself, by getting acquainted with my true self the closer I become to God. For God dwells at the deepest part of who I am.
This process is expressed well in these verses from the Message. “Here’s what I want you to do; Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matt. 6:6 – The Message) Oh, how true. When I am willing to be alone with God, I learn to face my dark side. There is no role playing before God. I face the true condition of my soul. In the process there is a shift from me to the actual presence of God within my soul.
Another quote from Augustine in this regard has been very helpful for me. “Lord, I went wandering like a stray sheep, seeking you with anxious reasoning weighted within me. I wearied myself much in looking for you without. If only I had desired you, and panted after you. I went around the streets and squares of the cities of this world and I found you not, because in vain I sought without for you who were within.” Men, we can weary ourselves with a lot of religious posturing hoping to find peace with God. Most of this posturing does little in our search for God. We have to simply face ourselves and know that God waits for us in love within our own souls.