Seeking God Within

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Jeanne Guyon

Your way to God begins on the day of your conversion, for
conversion marks your soul’s initial return to God. From that moment
you begin to live and have your being by the means of His grace.

After your conversion, your own spirit—the human spirit
(which is deep within your inmost being)—is touched by God and is made
alive and functioning. Your spirit—in turn—invites your soul to compose
itself and to turn within, there to find the God who has newly come to
reside at the center of your being.

Your spirit instructs your soul that, since God is more
present deep within you, He cannot be found anywhere else. Henceforth,
He must be sought within. And He must be enjoyed there, alone.

Therefore, from the very beginning, you find great joy in
knowing that your Lord is within you and that you can find Him and
enjoy Him in your inmost being. From the very beginning of your
conversion, from the very outset of your life in Christ, it is possible
for you to know that what you are to pursue is that inward life.

What is conversion? It is nothing more than turning from
your created nature and turning to God, who now resides at the center
of your being.

Your conversion is not just a matter of turning from sin.
Turning from sin to grace is certainly essential in salvation, but it
is not all that salvation involves. To be complete, conversion must
involve not only a turning from outward things but also a turning to
the inmost portions of your being—to that place where the Lord has come
to reside.

When you are turned toward God, you will find it easy to
return there again and again. The longer you continue to turn inward to
God, the nearer you are drawn to Him and the more firmly you adhere to
Him. Consequently, you are further removed from your more outward and
natural man—so often contrary to God.

By moving into that inmost sanctuary again and again, you
will finally become so established in your conversion that it becomes
natural, even habitual, to live in the presence of God. And where is
God’s presence? God’s presence is where He lodges…deep in your spirit.

Now do not suppose that such a state is reached by
exertion or by effort on your part. The only thing you yourself are
capable of doing is this: to withdraw from external objects. In other
words, the most you can do is turn inward.

Yes, you are capable of cooperating with divine grace to
that extent; therefore, you should attempt to do so. Beyond that,
nothing. You have only to continue to be firm in adhering to the God
who is within you.

Your Lord has a virtue of magnetic attraction. He draws
you more and more powerfully to Himself. As He attracts you inwardly,
He purifies you of all the things that are not of Himself.

But remember, this is His activity, not yours. Just as it
is with impure vapor, so it is with you. Vapor is drawn up by the sun,
and as it gradually ascends, it is rarified and made pure. The vapor’s
only contribution to this process is to remain passive and rise.

In our experience, there is a slight difference from that
of the vapor. You and I have the privilege of cooperating voluntarily
with the Lord’s drawing of us toward Him. This inward turning to Him is
very easy, natural and effortless because He is at your center. You
turn because He draws you.

It is obvious, then, that you should give all your
attention toward turning inward to the place of your Lord’s residence.
Do not be discouraged by the fact that you might find this a difficult
exercise in the beginning.

Before very long, an abundant grace will come to you and
this matter will become easy. That will be true if you are faithful to
meekly withdraw your heart from outward distractions and occupations
and then return to your center with affections full of tenderness and
great serenity.

When your emotions and feelings are turbulent with
anxiety and anger, be assured that a general retreat inward to the
presence of God deadens these turbulent emotions. If you try any other
way of opposing these emotions and feelings, you will succeed only in
irritating them—not stilling them.

Knowing that, your purpose is to pursue the inward life.
This is the spring of all the joy of the soul. This is the solid
foundation of all spiritual progress. Your purpose is to pursue the
life that dwells deep within your inmost center.

The Higher Way

But beware: Those who turn toward God merely by their
intelligence may enjoy some spiritual contemplation, but they will
never enter into an intimate union with God unless they quit their way
and enter into the higher way of the inward touch. All working is in
the spirit.

Those believers who are led by a Lord who is deep within
their spirits are conducted by a blind abandonment and not by
intelligence. They do experience a certain kind of knowledge, but it is
a knowledge that is delightful and fruitful.

Such a believer never walks by his intellect. He is led
in the inward way. He is destined to pursue blindly an unknown course
which, though it seems perfectly natural to him, requires him to sense
his way along by the intuitive life that dwells deep within him and
draws him forward.

In spite of the seeming uncertainty of his way, this
simple and trusting believer makes progress in the Spirit with far more
certainty than the intellectual believer! As contradictory as it seems,
intellectual illuminations are subject to misleadings; yes, far more
severe than those of the inward way.

The believer who is abandoned into that unknown course is
being guided by a supreme will that conducts him wherever God desires.
This believer follows a path prescribed for him by a touch of God from
deep within his spirit. He is pursuing a way of faith and absolute
abandonment and has neither liberty nor desire for any other path.

You might ask: If a person is urged on by no strong
guidance, but walks blindly, is such a person really a follower of God?
My answer is yes. That person does God’s will even more truly than the
one filled with sight.

He may not have the satisfaction of knowing he is doing
the will of God; nonetheless, the Lord’s will is engraved in indelible
letters on that believer’s innermost parts. He goes steadily under the
influence of God’s touch and the influence of his spirit; he progresses
from one degree to another by faith.

True, it is a faith that is manifested more at some times
than it is at other times, for he alternates between a sense of dryness
and a sense of the presence of God. Nonetheless, his enjoyment of the
Lord becomes continually deeper.

Paradoxically, as the enjoyment of the Lord deepens, it
also becomes less perceptible. As his enjoyment of the Lord becomes
less perceptible, his sense of the Lord becomes more inward, more
delicate than ever before.

For a Christian such as this, even in the midst of
dryness he is delighted. His delight is not coming by distinct or
intellectual illumination, though. His soul is not aware of the light
he is receiving, but it receives all the benefits of that light!

The believer finds himself more acquainted with the truth
that is implanted in his inmost being. This acquaintance causes
everything in him to yield to the will of God.

As a result, God’s will gradually grows more familiar to
him. Eventually, he is more able, in a perceptible way, to penetrate a
thousand mysteries—mysteries that he never could have discovered by
light of reason or knowledge! He is gradually preparing, without being
aware of it, for even greater levels of progress that lie out there
before him.

Madame Jeanne Guyon was a French mystic who became
well known during the 17th century. She was a proponent of Quietism,
which placed less emphasis on religious discipline than on total
surrender to God. Guyon became embroiled in a controversy between the
two most famous clergymen in France’s history—Fenelon, whose spiritual
life she greatly influenced—and Bossuet. This controversy over her
teachings led to her disgrace and imprisonment. Nevertheless, her
writings have influenced many religious groups through the centuries,
including the Methodists and the Quakers, and they continue to impact
those who desire a deeper relationship with God. Adapted from
Union With God by Madame Jeanne Guyon, copyright © 1981. Published by The SeedSowers. Used by permission.

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