Certainly strange things happen when we put ourselves in the hands of God. One of the strangest things is that in this second step of love, as we realise the extent to which God is with us so we begin to turn our attention towards him, and therefore away from ourselves. This then leads us to the inevitable question. Who or what is it that I am turning to? Jesus Christ asks each of us, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ He doesn’t ask us this in terms of doctrine – it’s not an abstract intellectual answer that’s needed; he doesn’t ask us this in terms of morality and behaviour – the ‘shoulds and the oughts’ of our conduct; but he does ask this of us personally – it seems an emotional question that seeks a subjective answer.
Lawrence Freeman sees this question as key, as to ask who Jesus is implies ‘who he is for me, to me, and in relation to me’ and then ‘who we are as well’. Thinking about the question that Jesus asks us, leads to thinking about who we really are especially in relation to him. The question, ‘How are you?’, that we ask so casually of each other is the question that then needs to be turned back on our self – ‘How am I: really and honestly ‘How am I?’ Part of not knowing the answer to Jesus’ question to us, or finding partial answers that then change as we evolve, means that we also change our perception of who we are. In other words, as we explore our inscape, the inner geography that is partly long established and partly recently constructed – we start to let go of the self that we have constructed and our manufactured answer to the questions, ‘How am I?’ and ‘Who am I?’ If we can let go or ‘unknow’ our false self, we open up more space around us and, this can be space for God’s transformational action. As Jeremy Taylor wrote, ‘There should be in the soul halls of space, avenues of leisure, and high porticos of silence, where God walks’.
As we recognise the expansion of the horizontal and vertical dimension in our selves so we realise that any answer to this question asked of us by Jesus cannot be final. If we can manage not to stop the space opened by this question with an instant answer then we are making ourselves available to the transformational action of God which will lead us to the truthful answer.
To live loving God for what he gives us seems to mean the possibility of beginning to live with stillness and a spaciousness that allows us to be present, and aware, without being dominated by what happens in our illusory self, with our all too human fears, and our transient needs. So now we have some more time alone with the Alone (as Bede Griffiths put it). This is time to wonder about our answer to this question, time to be with God time to just be.