Freedom of going with the flow: 2 Corinthians 3:17

Georges Simenon is not a widely quoted writer, either by contemplatives or evangelicals. He was a prolific author of the 20th Century, producing nearly 500 novels during his lifetime. He is unquestionably best known for his series of Maigret novels, although many of his other books are of far greater literary quality. Simenon was not a Christian, but he was a true observer of life and a great storyteller.

I love reading, and at least half an hour of most days is spent reading a novel. This week I have been reading ‘Maigret in New York’, and I came across something which resonated with me. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Maigret is a French detective. In this particular book he is pursuing a case in New York (the clue was in the title) and defending his methods to an FBI agent. Whilst the aim of both is to catch and convict criminals, the FBI agent is a man who bases his investigation on assumptions, whilst Maigret claims to rely exclusively on the evidence. His principle is to avoid making assumptions about any case, until the evidence proves the guilt or innocence of the suspect.

‘I’m at sea, Lieutenant,’ said Maigret, ‘We probably both are. Except that you, you fight the waves, you mean to go in a definite direction, whereas I let myself drift with the current, clutching here and there on a passing branch.’ (Maigret in New York, 1947, p112)

What has this to do with our conversations about the contemplative evangelical?

It is so very easy to be dogmatic about what we believe. We decide something about our faith, probably because someone has told us something or we read it in a book, and we strive to hold on to it. Our understanding of sin, forgiveness, salvation, atonement, trinity, or whatever. Our view becomes fact for us, and we will not allow anything or anyone to deflect us from our view. We so easily become entrenched in a concept, without ever really questioning or challenging it. We don’t stop to weigh it, to test it, to see whether it is actually the truth. Our energy and enthusiasm can easily become sapped as we ‘fight the waves’ because of our determination to hold on to some small detail of our belief.

Rather than tiring ourselves out fighting the tide and waves to hold on desperately to something which seems important to us, what if we were to surrender to the current. What if we were to allow ourselves to drift in the flow of the Holy Spirit? What if we were to allow our spirit the freedom which is offered by the presence of the Holy Spirit?

As a contemplative, I read Scripture. I practice Lectio Divina. I pray. I lay down in silence. I yearn for something deeper in the stillness. I seek His presence as I try to allow my Spirit to flow with the Holy Spirit.

As an evangelical, I read Scripture, I try to apply the teaching of Jesus to my life. I pray. I worship. I seek the Holy Spirit. I want to be joyful, to dance before God as I go into the world where he has placed me to share His love and tell others about Him, confident that His Holy Spirit goes with me and before me.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)

For me, faith is about moving in the flow of the Holy Spirit. Just now and then, it’s good to grab on to a branch and take stock, to see where the Spirit has taken me, and to be thankful.

I am a contemplative evangelical.

Richard Jackson is the Director of LifePicture UK and former Executive Director of Christian charity Family Foundations Trust Ltd 

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