Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finding Inward Stillness

I finally finished this book after checking it out from the library twice. (Sad, I know. I kept the book in my car and only read a few minutes a day while I was waiting for my daughters to come out of school.) I copied so many quotes from it. I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “Be still” as we are commanded in Psalms 46:10. In our culture of multi-tasking and over-booking our schedules, being still is pretty rare, for me included. I hope to write some things I’ve learned about being still in a different post. For now, I’ll stick with the wonderful insights from Wendy and Brent Top. Both the title and the author drew me to this book. I had Brother Top for a professor at BYU and have since heard several of his talks and enjoyed them.

It was interesting reading a book authored by two people. They have different experiences and different personalities so they share their different perspectives as well as using many quotes from others. They talk about how we can use the commandment to be perfect to pull us down (like quicksand) instead of using it to help buoy us up and give strength. All quotes are from Wendy and Brent Top if a different author isn’t given. All are used in this book.

“Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realize from the outset that the goal toward which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself can prevent Him from taking you to that goal…

“…The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly…His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 172, 174-175

They also address how fear and being judgmental hurt our personal peace, as well as how submitting to God’s will and having charity help increase the peace we feel. I liked their discussion of the importance of balance in our lives and the difference between the Lord’s expectations of us and our own or others’ expectations.

“Teaching our children to live a quiet, sane, and balanced life is one of the most important parental tasks of our day.”

“As we seek to balance the demands for our time and attention, as we are forced to make hard decisions or sacrifice activities or service that may be important but not imperative we will come to recognize that we have lost nothing essential but rather have gained in terms of rediscovering inner peace.”

“Making unrighteous and unmerciful judgments, we may make living the gospel more difficult and less rewarding than it should be by creating a standard that no one can measure up to.”

“[Fear] stifles initiative, saps strength, and reduces efficiency. It weakens faith, brings doubts, and begets mistrust. Indeed, it tends to impede the very business of being. How negative, frustrating and futile is fear.” Elder Derek H. Cuthbert, “The Futility of Fear,” BYU 1983-1984 Fireside and Devotional Speeches, p. 105

“The Spirit never makes us uptight or stilted; rather it fills us with joy and good humor.”

“God does not require complete compliance and oneness with his will because he is a tyrannical taskmaster and receives sadistic pleasure in our subservience, but rather because he seeks lovingly to lift us up to his level—godhood. Godhood is a perfect power over all things, attained by a perfect submission to all righteousness and eternal truth. We can only acquire this power as we surrender ourselves to him and allow him to remake us.”
Probably my favorite one about the problem with us being too busy is this one:

“God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem with Pain, p. 96, paraphrasing St. Augustine

I have 6 pages of quotes that I copied from the book for my files so I can’t include all of them. I encourage everyone to read this book since I’m sure you will find many of your own favorites. It’s only 100 pages, which makes it even sadder that I took so long to read it, but should be a quick read for most of you.

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