Journal Notes on St Paul of the Cross #17
by Amy Knight
In the prayer of faith, in which the soul rests in the love of God, and in these other elevations which leave the soul humble, fervent with a love of suffering and virtue and to do great things for God, there can never be deceit. But in the imaginings of the mind and so on, often, often the devil moves in to deceive the soul under the color of good. Truth is found when the soul is entirely united to God and distrustful of self; this does not happen when the devil is present. If these visions continue, make a little of them, as if they were the flies of summer, and get on with your loving devotion with your Highest Good. L168
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
In order to advance into deep prayer, the soul must learn to put away all desires coming from the flesh, even the ones that seem holy. The soul needs to learn the discipline of resting in dark faith in the love of God. God highly values faith, so He leaves the soul to only see in a mirror dimly. He desires that the soul be purified of all selfish ambition and soulish whims. The enemy will always try to trick the soul into thinking that soulish desires are actually good and from the Lord. This trickery is easy to fall into because the soul thinks the said visions are from God and that these soulish ideas have godly merit. The church of Laodicea was one such church that completely fell into this delusion of the devil and was completely convinced that they had were rich and had need of nothing; however, the Lord saw them as wretched, miserable, poor, naked, and blind.[i]
The counsel that God gave this lukewarm church was to, “buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”[ii] What is the Lord saying to this lukewarm church? They apparently had wealth in the world, but not in the Lord. Their worldly wealth was blinding them from their true condition before Heaven. They were in a demonic delusion. They had need of this harsh rebuke from the Lord to wake them up to their true condition.
How can this church buy this gold so as to become rich in the Lord? True spiritual riches are found in the secret place with God. This is why He says that He is standing at the door of their heart knocking—waiting—for the invitation to come in and fellowship together in intimacy. Perhaps they were too busy making worldly wealth to open up the door to Him. Not only does this secret place need to be cultivated, but this church needs God’s holy fire to burn up everything that hinders love and remove all the dross in their lives. The fire of God may happen an any number of different ways. The fire consists of difficulties, trials, tribulations, persecutions—anything that would cause the soul to depend on God alone. The Lord says to “buy gold” and that is a curious phrase; however, the Lord is urging the soul to embrace the cross given to it–come what may–because the gold comes forth from these painful trials. In speaking of the nation of Israel, the Lord says, “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”[iii] Suffering, when embraced, has the potential to bring about dependency on God and increase love and friendship with God.
Saint Paul of the Cross says to put away soulish visions and experiences, but of the ones “…in which the soul rests in the love of God, and in these other elevations which leave the soul humble, fervent with a love of suffering and virtue and to do great things for God, there can never be deceit.” An experience where the soul comes away with a love of suffering is truly “buying gold refined in the fire,” for that soul knows of the tremendous fruitfulness of these trials.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, stir up my soul to love you so much that suffering becomes a precious gift that draws me deep into your heart and leaves me in deep union with You.
[i] Rev 3:17
[ii] Rev 3:18-20
[iii] Zech 13:9