We are now halfway through this second review. There are three features I want to point out.
First, as you know by now, we end up spending a huge amount of time just sitting in silence and waiting for a message for the day. This silence, though absent of normal thinking, is supposed to filled with a powerful sense of confidence and determination, a complete, on-the-edge-of-your-seat attentiveness to that message as it gets ready to peek over the horizon. This same overpowering determination is also meant to be our protection against wandering thoughts. When they occur, we are to realize they have no power and our will to succeed has all the power. Obviously, then, this charged attitude of determination to succeed is everything. It is what will turn the practice period from fifteen minutes of daydreaming into fifteen minutes of tuning into a holy message from God.
Second, the commentary paragraphs are, as usual with the reviews, worded in the first person. They are also worded very simply and directly. This means we can relax our usual efforts to understand what we are reading-since it is so plain already-and focus all our attention on making it personal. We need to read those commentary paragraphs as our own personal thought process, and if we do, we will have an entirely different experience of them.
Third, for each lesson reviewed, as you know, we are given three "specific applications." These are adaptations of the lesson so that it now specifically applies to an upsetting situation. They are examples of what the Workbook elsewhere calls "response to temptation." Although Jesus makes clear that they are only suggestions, and that we are free to come up with our own specific applications of the lesson, I think they are pure gold. I strongly encourage you to use them. You might want to use all three as you review a particular lesson, and then pick a favorite to use during the day.
Here is a summary of the instructions for practice in this review:
Longer: 2 times (once for each of the ideas), for about 15 minutes
- For 3 or 4 minutes [2-3 in the notes], slowly read over the idea and comments (repeatedly if you wish) and think about them.
- Close your eyes and spend the remainder listening for the message the Holy Spirit has for you. We can see this time of listening as having the following components:
- Listen "quietly but attentively" (3:1)-listen in stillness and with all your attention.
- Hold an attitude of confidence ("this message belongs to me"), desire ("I want this message"), and determination ("I'm determined to succeed").
- Listening for ten minutes can easily be one big invitation to mind wandering, and so the majority of instruction for this exercise deals with this issue. For out-of-control mind wandering, go back and repeat the first phase. For more minor wandering, realize the distracting thoughts have no power and that your will has all the power, and then replace the thoughts with your will to succeed. Do so with firmness. "Do not allow your intent to waver" (4:1). "Refuse to be sidetracked" (5:2).
This is not mentioned in the instructions, but you may find it helpful to actually ask for the message, at the beginning and then periodically throughout. You may say, for instance, "What is Your message for me today?" You may even want to use this request as the specific vehicle for dispelling wandering thoughts.
Frequent reminders: frequent
Repeat the idea as a way of reaffirming your determination to succeed.
- First half of day: first lesson
- Second half of day: second lesson (You may want to pick a time to begin the second half, say 2 or 3 in the afternoon)
Response to temptation: whenever you are tempted to be upset
Repeat some variation on the idea, modified to apply to this particular upset.
- You may use one of the three "specific forms" suggested after each lesson. Notice how they are directed at a specific upset. Virtually every one is aimed at an upsetting "this" or an upsetting "name."
- Or you may generate one of your own specific forms, by using a variation on the practice of letting related thoughts come. Simply lean back and let your mind come up with a sentence that applies the essence of the idea to your current upset. For examples, see the specific forms suggested after each lesson.
Now let's look at the material in today's review lesson.
PARAGRAPH 1. (69) My grievances hide the light of the world in me.
This commentary paragraph is playing on a single fact: We all want to see. No one wants to be blind. We know that grievances darken our minds, but we also believe they show us the truth; they show us the light. But what if they not only darken our minds but also darken our sight? What if they make us blind? Who would want them at that point?
I find it helpful to use these response to temptation lines while I'm reading the lesson in the morning, applying them to a situation I'm not at peace about. So you might want to try that now. By the way, in the third one ("I have no need for this. I want to see."), I take "this" to mean "this appearance." So the line would mean, "I have no need for this appearance. I want to see what's real."
PARAGRAPH 3. (70) My salvation comes from me.
These lines are so simple and straightforward that they need no commentary. What is important is not understanding their abstract content-that's easy. What is important is taking them personally. So while you read, emphasize the words "I," "me," and "my." Imagine that these thoughts are you talking about yourself.
Again, I suggest you pick a situation you are upset about and apply each of these three lines in turn to it. Say it slowly and intentionally, and keep saying it until you feel a shift in your upset, even if the shift is only small.