Comments Off on From Leanne’s Archives: Holy Week, 2006
To have the privilege of greeting you once again is precious indeed. As I write, it is Holy Week, and my heart is full to bursting with the message of our crucified and risen Lord and with thanksgiving for our great, unspeakable inheritance in Him. The Paschal message proclaims the victory of the holy over the unholy, the noble over the ignoble, and of a Kingdom whose King reigns in righteousness and enables us to do the same.
For our sake he (God the Father) made him (God the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2 Cor. 5:21-6:1 ESV)
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16 ESV)
Since I attended the Palm Sunday Eucharist, tears of joy, when not falling, are close to the surface. That is because in the Eucharistic liturgy, as we celebrated Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I had such a heightened sense of the throng’s cries of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and personal memories came flooding in of the myriad ways our King comes to us, never ceasing to purify, hallow, and strengthen us for the battles we face. Today, for all of us who dearly love the real and the splendor of the truth that streams from it, these battles are increasing and loom ever larger. But in them we find that most faithfully, our King always causes us, in Him, not only to overcome but to be fruitful as through us he invites multitudes of lost and wandering souls to enter His Kingdom and find His healing.
It is no small thing to be wed to Him, to be a church in anticipation of the wedding feast of the Lamb! You may want to ponder Zechariah 14:1-9 and Revelation 19:6-16, and then go back to verses 8 and 14 of Revelation 19 for what it means, as individual members of the bride of Christ, to wear white raiment at that feast and then, in that glistening raiment, to accompany the King of Kings as He returns at the end of time. It is no small thing to be fruit-bearers in the Kingdom. Who of us blood-bought ones can, in the midst of a Palm Sunday Eucharist, meditate on such Scriptures and not be overcome with tears of joy?
Comments Off on Coming Free of the Introspective Loop
by Barbara Byers
“We come to know even ourselves, not through turning inward to study and analyze, but by turning outward to love all that is real and other than ourselves” (Leanne Payne, The Healing Presence, p. 193).
“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28
How glorious it is to come free of introspection, to simply be alive and fully present, indwelt by Christ! As a recovered, and still recovering “introspector,” I found there is a clear path to freedom, albeit often slow and at times battle-wearying. My analytical self-inspecting had certainly occupied significant mental real estate, and for years I had even assumed it was a good and natural functioning of the soul. After all, wasn’t I “working out my salvation?” Far from it! I was protectively engaged in self-management, disqualifying my true heart and quenching creativity. Worse yet, I was stilling the voice of God by my own loud musings, and the essential thing I most needed – to hear from Him that objective word of truth in every situation – went missing. I was, as C. S. Lewis noted in Perelandra, “walking alongside” myself. I habitually practiced diseased attitudes toward myself, trying to handle shame, fear, anxiety and internal pain so that I could present a better self.
These introspective thoughts, what Leanne Payne called “the turning inward to analyze,” are inexorably linked to self-deprecating, self-loathing thoughts. Even as we engage in introspection to try and justify or redeem ourselves, we inevitably either sink downward into self-disqualification and shame or elevate ourselves into prideful self-justification. Sometimes we alternate between the two, but neither is holy and wholesome within our souls, both only feeding increasing loops of introspection.
As I began to understand this dark practice and its demands, I was greatly helped by the Lord to image a closed looping movement opposing, and in contrast to, the open movement of a soul reaching Godward. C. S. Lewis in The Collected Letters Vol. 1 (p. 924) described this self-enclosed movement well: “…your thoughts merely go round and round a wearisome circle, now hopeful, now despondent, then hopeful again—that way madness lies.” Introspection is a form of madness! Leanne Payne echoed this in The Healing Presence (p. 186) when she wrote of introspection as “agonizingly painful and circular,” the closed narcissistic movement of the soul down and inward toward the self, isolating us from others, from God, from our true selves.
So we see a movement of the soul that is really a closed circuit. It is a system powered by the false self and directed by the light of its own meager understanding. A closed system allows its energy to flow only around its own circuit, from one end to the other, uninterrupted and constantly recirculating. This illustrates the problem with introspection, for we desperately need interruption from our dark, stale, isolated, self-focused thoughts! We need to be free of that wearisome circuit that directs us toward “madness.” We are called into a healthy, transforming movement of the soul that directs us up towards God and out toward others and toward the good and beautiful around us. Rather than engaging in a closed loop, moving downward, incurved into the false self, we can choose to look up and out in openness of soul toward God and others.
When we place these two movements in juxtaposition, we see the contrast. One is closed, unable to receive only its own subjective reality, while the other is open and permeable to truth. When God speaks, permeating into our souls, we hear; when nature radiates its beauty, we can take it in with wonder; and when others engage us, we can receive and respond with real conversation.
So what are we do when we find ourselves mired in this subjective habit of introspection? What are we to do when we realize how much healing we need and are then tempted to sink into hopelessness? We must repent with all our heart from idolatry toward the old self, from pride, from self-loathing, and from self-sufficiency, and turn again to Christ as the source of all our joy and truth. We then invite the Holy Spirit to be the lamp of the Lord who searches our inward self. We resign from that search!
Brother Lawrence, in The Practice of the Presence, wrote: “In God we will see more clearly what we lack, than we could in ourselves by all our introspection. In reality, introspection is but the remnant of unexpelled self-love.” Christ alone knows the real motives of our hearts, the real brokenness that lies within us. And He can illumine each area of darkness, pinpoint each lie and sinful root, and renew our hearts again. We can then enter the battle to overcome, heeding the words of Paul: “…fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ…clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity (2 Cor. 10:5-6 MSG).”
When I am now tempted to regress into the old inward loop, “taking counsel in my own soul” (Ps. 13:2), I find it helpful to remember Lewis’s admonition: “That way madness lies!” True health of soul comes when we turn up and out toward Christ, renewing our minds in His love and truth. Coming free of this habit is worth every collaborative effort on our part, conjoined with his ever-present grace, to forsake our old way and receive the indwelling Christ. So let up press on to know the Lord. Only in knowing and trusting Him will we find our true selves reaching out in movements of joy toward Him, toward others, toward truth and beauty. That is freedom indeed!
Leanne Payne, made an extraordinary contribution to the ministry of healing prayer through over forty years of service and leadership. Called a “great soldier for Christ” by the philosopher Dallas Willard, she founded Pastoral Care Ministries, dedicated to teaching, healing, and growth in Christian maturity. She wrote seven books that continue in print in English and in 12 other language translations.
Leanne Payne was born during the Great Depression on June 26, 1932, in Omaha, Nebraska, the elder daughter of Robert and Forrest Mabrey. Times were hard and became even more difficult when her father died when she was three years old. Her mother moved with Leanne and her younger sister to Little Rock, Arkansas, to live with family.
Leanne’s early adult life was shaped by several impulsive and painful choices that ultimately brought her to a place of deep repentance. At the end of herself by her mid-twenties, she underwent a full and lasting conversion to Christ, stepping firmly onto the path of obedience to God.
In 1963 Mrs. Payne became the dorm mother at Wheaton Academy, beginning her forty-plus-year association with Wheaton, Illinois, and its legacy of great evangelical leaders such as R. A. Torrey, F. B. Meyer, and Dwight Moody. A year later she joined the prayer circle of Fr. Richard Winkler, considered the grandfather of the charismatic renewal movement. In 1965 while working for Wheaton College, she enrolled as a student and thus began her formal education. From 1965 to 1974 she studied at both Wheaton and University of Arkansas, earning a BA and two MA degrees.
During the next several years she wrote her first book, Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C. S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality, taught at Wheaton College, and assisted Dr. Clyde Kilby, the visionary who established the C. S. Lewis literary collection at Wheaton College (today’s Marion E. Wade Center). She catalogued the letters of C. S. Lewis while sitting at his desk and benefitted richly from Lewis and the mentoring by Dr. Kilby.
Fr. Winkler introduced her to the healing-prayer ministry of Agnes Sanford in 1973, and Leanne was soon serving with Mrs. Sanford in her Schools of Pastoral Care. By 1976 she was ministering full time through writing and healing prayer. She moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1978 and served as a research fellow under Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School in 1981. This year also saw the much-celebrated publication of The Broken Image.
In 1982 she incorporated Pastoral Care Ministries with the guidance of friends experienced in business matters. The establishment of this ministry structure brought order, and Leanne flourished in generative creativity. From this time onward, she provided pastoral care through prayer and counselling mainly at the week-long PCM schools conducted throughout North America, Europe, Hawaii, and Australia. She published five more books in the years that followed: Crisis in Masculinity, The Healing Presence, Restoring the Christian Soul, Listening Prayer, and finally in 2008 her spiritual autobiography. Dr. Donald Bloesch said of Heaven’s Calling, “It poignantly shows how the author has been mightily used by the Spirit of God to spearhead a ministry of renewal and celebration.” In 2008 Leanne founded Ministries of Pastoral Care, which has allowed her week-long pastoral care schools to continue beyond her retirement and to this day.
Leanne was known for her deep devotion to God, her profound thought, her writing about “incarnational reality” – how God dwells in his people – and for the way the triune God would respond mightily to her prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit.” She shared the winsome character of her mentors Dr. Kilby and Agnes Sanford, the “eternal child,” delighting always in creation whether it be a squirrel, a perfectly formed flower, or a man or woman made in the image of God.