Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind, and a clean consience inspires great trust in God. – Thomas à Kempis

In the human heart and soul there is much restlessness.  We are always seeking for something to satisfy that craving in us.  In our culture we attempt to do this by acquiring material possessions.  We are under a false assumption that that new_______ (you fill in the blank) will make us feel more fulfilled.  For me, that temptation comes in the form of books.  I have this inward sense that the next book I get through in the mail will be the book that has all the answers and satisfies me.  But you know, when I am done reading that book, it goes up on the book shelf and I forget close to 80% of the contents I read within.  In fact, there are but a select group of books that I find myself returning to for answers or resources in sermons or papers.

I have begun a process therefore of going through my books over the past few years to remove those books that are not much use to me.  They are clutter and take up space.  Thomas à Kempis in another place says something along the lines of: we will not be judged upon how many books we have read in this life.  The question is: have we lived a good and holy life before God in all purity.  Now books are indeed tremendous tools and I am a strong advocate for them…I LOVE BOOKS!  However, they are tools to merely help us maintain that life that is pleasing before the Lord.

But this post is not about books, it is about the fact that like à Kempis said in the quote above, the soul will not be satisfied by many words. It will not be satisfied by all the words I read in books, hear in sermons, get in counseling sessions, admonishment from a friend, or from the TV evangelist.  These things may help, but they will not satisfy.  So stop depending on them to.  This blog will not satisfy you.  The goal however is how Paul Reese once put it, “The goal of a sermon is to bring the congregants as close to the heart of God as possible, and leave them there.”  Why?  Because the preacher, book, CD, tape, counselor, and teacher can not do the work that only God can; namely satisfy our souls.

When we come in contact with God he does what Paul describes as “from glory to glory he changes me.”  That is to say, he does a work within us that makes us more like Christ so that we may acheive what à Kempis calls “a good life [that] eases the mind, a clean conscience.”  This is truly a great gift from God.  There have been times in my life when I have had everything going for me.  I was getting a great education, making decent money, people loved me, great family, and I had all the latest books.  Yet there was inner turmoil and want.  I was hungry for more and I felt shame inside me.  But as à Kempis put it in another place “a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars.”

I find great wisdom in à Kempis’ quote that I first mentioned above.  It is when I have closeness with God, strive to live a pure and good life, with a clean conscience that my soul is truly satisfied.  It is in that state that I find peace in the storms, calm in times of stress, joy in moments of sadness, clarity of thoughts and guidance when the journey is foggy and perilous, and wisdom in all of lives circumstances.

But note that he goes on to say that such “a clean conscience inspires  great trust in God.”  Why?  Because we see from experience that it works.  We learn that is what satisfies the soul.  This is why over and over again the apostles spend most of their letters admonishing the churches and the saints therein to live moral and ethical lives.  Behavior that is unbecoming of Christians, leads to failure and dissatisfaction in the Christian life.  Such a person is unfruitful and wish-washy.

Strive to live a holy life and your soul will be satisfied.  God can work and mold such a humble person.  To put it simply…there is less crap that has to be shoveled out of the way before he can get to us.  I pray that you and I will yield ourselves before the Holy Spirit so he can purify our hearts and minds so we can live our lives with a clean conscience and a mind at ease.  As we do we will live a good life.  To such a person Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8 RSV).”

**The picture above of the stained glass window is an image of St. John resting his head on Jesus.  The beauty of this image is imagining John being able to hear the beating heart Jesus.  Can you imagine such an experience?  I believe that God invites us all to draw near to him, so that we are so close that we may hear his beating heart.