14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Thomas is confused, he wants to know the way, but he can’t imagine what it is. If Jesus had said to me ‘where I go you know, and you know the way’ I probably would have asked the same thing. But in contemplating the matter there is a very practical way that we know the way.
We know the way by the gifts the Lord Himself has given us in our mind and soul. Jesus is God, he created us and he provided the gifts and talents each of us possess. The Bible tells us that He ‘gave us gifts of the spirit in good measure’. He is the fountain from which all good things proceed in their infinite variety. Gifts such as teaching, listening, caring, ministry, working with our hands, the gift of inspiring others with music, and innumerable others. By using and developing these gifts He has given to us in our life, and our work, and our relationships we internalize these skills and come to know our self, and thus to know God. In doing this we make the spiritual leap to really see how it is that all good comes from God. And, at the same time the more we come to know the Lord through spending time studying His Word, the more we come to know our our self and our gifts. The two together accelerate our strength in the Lord.
I believe the single most important thing to understand in this process is that strength is manifested through humility. In the beatitudes the Lord tells us that “the meek shall inherit the earth”; and “Blessed are the peacekeepers”. What does it mean that the meek shall inherit the earth? This statement is of the spiritual principle that God is only approached and received in humility! The world thinks of meekness and humility as weakness, but its not really weakness. The Lord say of meek shall inherit the earth! This means there is strength in it and even power. There is strength and power because humility softens, prepares and transforms the heart! The whole process – softening, preparing, transformation, and perception – are all reception from God. We can only receive from God to the degree we remove evils in our body and soul, and thus make room to receive God. There is no other way. In the state of humility our heart not only desires to serve and be right with God and others, but it also wants to fend off and protect ourself and others from evil. All the work of good psychology is recognizing, changing, and removing the influence of negative thoughts, experience, and behaviors, (which is part of removing evils); but for wholeness the psychological part needs to be integrated with the spiritual. The spiritual part essentially means internally recognizing that all good comes from God – for this is the truth, and it is the essence of humility. All of this doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, in fact, we usually have to go through a lot of crap first. I know I did.
As a chaplain I have found one of the reasons people struggle with accepting God is that they are afraid of and guarded against humbling themselves. Being angry at God is not the end; its means we at least still have a connection, are perhaps deep down yearn for a connection. Most of us have feelings like this of some kind; the work is to take these feelings to him. Some people are convinced by the trauma of life experiences that nothing can be trusted, and they guard themselves against trusting; but it is a fundamental need of human beings to be able to trust. Jesus, who is God, can always be trusted. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19). We also of course need to have people in our life we can trust and know that stand by us, and we by them.
The opposite of humility is to be in pride. Pride blocks reception of God.
I will describe how inherent is our stance of reception before God. The Bible tells us that we are vessels and God is the potter, that we are creatures and He is the creator, that we are human and He is the divine human. (We are made in HIS image). This means that as humans we are receptacles of life and He is the source of life. We are dependent on God for life and redemption, but at the same time our relationship with Him is reciprocal. If we understand this, we see why it is that we can only approach Him in humility. It appears we have life from ourself; which is meant to be, so that we always act in freedom from our self, but internally we receive our life and spiritual gifts from God. He always urges us and guides to know him, but it must be that we act from our will in freedom in order to bond with Him. Our soul is an organ, like the eye is an organ that is a receptor of light. Our soul is an organ that is the highest form in the universe and it receives love and wisdom from God that sustains our life and is the source of our talents and all good.
I want to give you an experiential example of what it means to in humility toward the Lord. When a military man jumps on a hand grenade and saves the lives of those around, those around they can not help but feel deep thankfulness, an overwhelming love for the sacrifice he made that saved their lives. They know that he died for their sake. How much more do we feel this for the Lord who redeemed all of humanity from darkness by the deeds he did on earth and in heaven. It is appropriate to honor the good of men and woman, but with God it is appropriate to worship Him for He is the one and only divine.
In the scripture I quoted at the beginning Jesus spoke of preparing a place for us in heaven. He said ‘In my Fathers house are many mansions, and I go to prepare a place for you”. This means that the union of love and faith we have formed here while on earth has a set constellation at the time of our death. That union doesn’t change doesn’t change, but is now like a seed that upon entering heavenly light is nourished and grows into a magnificent tree, thus entering a happiness we cannot imagine now. God knows our nature and thus has prepared a place and at the same time prepared our soul to receive it. (All of this is what happens if we go to heaven.) This also is I believe the meaning of the parable of the mustard seed. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches”.
When we possess a great treasure from God with desire nothing more than to share it with others. That is the nature of heaven. Each person desires the good of the other more than themselves.