Seeking Solace, Finding PeaceFor Those Who Long to Be Useful to God
See also: Amity for the Troubled in Spirit (pdf)
I speak to thee, seeker of solace, not from a separate or superior place, but as one who has walked in similar shoes along similar paths. I sought solace, begged for peace, had faith in the possibility of happiness, as I longed for the seemingly endless heartache to stop and the healing to begin. I found peace, not comfort and ease, but peace in the midst of discomfort and dis-ease. I found compassion for myself and for others, residing in my heart, the Christ Within had kept a small hearth-fire burning, waiting in the depths of my heart for me to seek him out, waiting for me in the heart of my heart to find him, where he had been all along as I searched hither and thither and yon. Even as I outwardly rejected him, inwardly he was working on my heart, healing me, bringing me to the Truth and to peace and solace.
I speak to thee, she who desires to be useful to God, he who desires to be on the narrow path. That desire is a grace, and if followed in humility, these desires of thy soul for wholeness and healing will lead to submission to the Lord and his will for thee. Thy desires and longings will lead thee to become capable of discernment of the Lord's will for thee. The Lord has made thee capable of obedience, given thee the gift of the Light Within to illuminate thy path and brought thee the free gift of submission.
The healing has begun, child of God, infant in trust and patience. Mature thy trust, mature thy patience, and thee will see thy healing is happening in the Lord's time and in the Lord's way. That is where faith becomes powerful, where thee allows the Lord to do his work. He has set tasks before thee. Attend to those tasks, and set aside those he has not set before thee. Thee knows the difference, in thy heart. The mind is prone to confusion and dismay, but the heart is where the Truth resides, and where the Way is made clear.
Peace resides in the heart. It may be hard for thee to believe that something thee has sought with such energy in the world was available to thee the entire time, but so it is. It is within thee, and available to thee, at any time. Not just when things are going well, and not just when things are difficult. He is there, a companionable presence, a bracing presence, a loving presence, a stern presence. The Truth is all these things, each as thee needs them, each as thee requires. He will comfort, when it is time for comfort, and he will correct when it is time to correct. There is no comfort, nor correction, in the world and the world's ways to compare.
Traditional Quakers have tactics for finding the Christ Within, ways of preparing ourselves for submission and obedience to the Lord's will. The simplest and best first step to take is to set aside time each day to wait upon the Lord, to have a time of private retirement where there is no expectation for the time except that it be given to the Lord to use as he will. Pray if thee feels led. Read the Bible if thee feels led. But do not place any presumption upon the time, rather offer it to the Lord. Do not say, "I will do this" or "I will do that," rather say "I will do nothing until the Lord shows me to do it, and if he offers me nothing then I will do nothing." Remember Elijah (I Kings 19:11-13). Remember the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
It is usual for those to whom I offer this tactic to say they don't feel comfortable sitting in silence for any length of time. At which point I suggest they are not yet desperate enough, that they have not reached the end of the seeking and questing. When they are desperate enough, I say, when the world and the world's answers have left them sufficiently battered and cold and with no other option at hand, then they may finally turn to the Christ Within. Then they may find the unbearable silence a better option than despair, finally prepared and ready for his healing and warmth. Or, I offer, they could give it a go now, just to see if they are able to find him before they have actually reached the end of their rope. It is painful reaching the end of one's rope, I suggest, and they have been sufficiently rattled to seek me out. The Lord appears to be offering them an opportunity. But, I say, it is their choice. And I say to thee, it is thy choice. All the love Christ has for thee is available to thee now, if thee can only reach out for it with an open heart. My compassion goes with thee, Friend or Neighbor, whatever thy choice and wherever it leads.
1 Kings 19:11-13 (KJV)
Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
NOW concerning them that do go to the Quarterly Meeting, they must be substantial Friends, that can give a Testimony of your Sufferings, and how things are amongst you in every particular Meeting. So that none that are raw or weak, that are not able to give a Testimony of the Affairs of the Church and Truth, may go on behalf of the particular Meetings to the Quarterly Meetings, but may be nursed up in your Monthly Meetings, and there fitted for the Lord's Service . . . for the ...