For those of you who recall physics in school or college you may remember the meaning of electrical resistance. The “resistance” of a wire determines how much current and voltage flows through it based on its character, its essence. During some recent retreats it seems this relationship can also be applied to the way we enter into prayer and communion with God.
Perhaps this is nowhere truer than in contemplative prayer, particularly meditative prayer forms where we are encouraged to “tune out” the rest of the world and listen for that small, still voice mentioned in scripture so frequently. Eucharistic Adoration, Centering Prayer and even imaginative prayer all call the issue of our “resistance” to listen and stay quiet to hear what God wants us to receive.
One major factor limiting our growth in this area is an unwillingness to give in to God’s will, but rather make requests to suit our own benefits. While there is intrinsically nothing wrong with prayers of petition; we all do them all the time … it does not place us where we need to be when we take a contemplative prayer route. In contemplative prayer, we are placing ourselves in a disposition of “opening our heart to God, without an agenda or goal”, we trying “to rest in Him” and let go of all of our own needs. The Our Father and many places in scripture describe this fully in the words “Thy Will Be Done”, which also means, God’s will be done, not my will.
Placing ourselves in this position, requires us to drop all resistance which keeps the electrical current which God wants to provide us with … grace … flowing at full tilt. When we surrender to His will the agenda is gone, our needs are gone, our requests are gone. We just place ourselves at the Foot of the Cross and rest in Him.
During my own journey, I can plot many times when I was grateful to God, but I still resisted the call to be really close to Him. Not because He was not present, but rather I was unwilling to drop my internal resistance. I was unwilling to be vulnerable; to be humble; to be open to His complete love by dropping my own guard fully. I needed to rest in His arms as a small baby would do in the arms of their parents or grandparents.
Perhaps it is time to reexamine my own resistance to surrendering to God. Am I fully on board with “Thy Will Be Done” and leave my own will at the door? My answer is I still have some way to go.
So perhaps the old saw, “Let Go and Let God” still has much relevance in my spiritual life today. I will work on it. Perhaps you are being called to look at resistance in this new light.
Just a thought.
Holding back once again,
The tortoise returns into its shell,
Hiding myself from the outside influences,
Disguising an interior motive.
Undiscoverable to other mortals;
Or so it seems.
Yet the very resistance which keeps my face stony in adversity,
Freezes me in my relationship to God.
Holding my sadness in a gaze of perpetuity,
Where a smile or love cannot easily emerge,
As my heart holds tight its meaning from the world.
Until the resistance is unlocked,
In a surrender to the Other.
This time without motive,
Or even purpose.
Into a time warp of love.
Reflection and Photograph © 2018 Michael J. Cunningham OFS