Book Notes

Letters by a Modern Mystic

Book cover for Letters by a Modern Mystic
Frank C. Laubach

Let­ters by a Mod­ern Mys­tic is a col­lec­tion of excerpts from let­ters that Frank Laubach wrote to his father while serv­ing as a mis­sion­ary in the Philip­pines. The let­ters were dat­ed between Jan­u­ary of 1930 and Jan­u­ary of 1932. The theme amongst these let­ters is how Laubach expe­ri­enced God through­out dai­ly liv­ing. He con­duct­ed what he called an exper­i­ment in that he aimed to keep God in his mind every hour of the day. 

The let­ters are fol­lowed by an essay of sorts called The Game with Min­utes. In this essay, Laubach describes a prac­ti­cal approach to keep­ing God in one’s mind one every 60 sec­onds of the day.

I love read­ing let­ters or jour­nal entries from peo­ple with whom I would love to have a con­ver­sa­tion, but nev­er will. Laubach’s let­ters here afford us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from his real-time obser­va­tions and lessons. It’s a delight to watch” him devel­op a spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­pline, open­ly share his short­com­ings along the way, and encour­age the read­er with descrip­tion of the journey.

Take, for exam­ple, his entry for May 14, 1930. It seems to be his first time cap­tur­ing the feel­ings of progress toward his exper­i­ment of seek­ing God’s will and pres­ence every hour. It’s brief, but encour­ag­ing to read. He sim­ply and earnest­ly describes the feel­ing of progress while acknowl­edg­ing that the road ahead is long yet, to be full of fail­ures and suc­cess­es in his exper­i­ment, as he calls it.

I can eas­i­ly see myself read­ing this again here and there over time.

I choose to look at peo­ple through God, using God as my glass­es, col­ored with His love for them.

Excerpts and notes from the letters

This year I have start­ed out try­ing to live all my wak­ing moments in con­scious lis­ten­ing to the inner voice, ask­ing with­out ceas­ing, What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done in this minute?’” (p. 4)

It means two burn­ing pas­sions: First, to be like Jesus. Sec­ond, to respond to God as a vio­lin responds to the bow of the mas­ter.” (p. 6)

Open your soul and enter­tain the Glo­ry of God and after a while that glo­ry will be reflect­ed in the world about you and in the very clouds above your head.” (p. 7)

There seems to be a theme of Laubach acknowl­edg­ing the sun­set as he writes. This makes me think he had a rit­u­al of writ­ing at the same time each day. I’m not sure if that’s the case, as I’m only on the 4th or 5th let­ter so far. But it seems likely. 

Can I bring God back in my mind-flow every few sec­onds so that God shall always be one of the ele­ments in every con­cept and per­cept?” (p. 20)

If our reli­gious premis­es are cor­rect at all, then this one­ness with God is the most nor­mal con­di­tion one can have. It is what made Christ, Christ.” (p. 20)

I have tast­ed a thrill in the fel­low­ship with God which has made any­thing dis­cor­dant with God dis­gust­ing.” (p. 23)

Laubach wrote on March 23rd about his exper­i­ment to sub­mit to God’s will every hour of every day. He lat­er wrote the fol­low­ing on April 19th:

This con­scious, inces­sant sub­mis­sion to God has proven extreme­ly dif­fi­cult, and I have sur­ren­dered for the past few days. And today and yes­ter­day I saw evi­dences of the result. In an effort to be wit­ty, I have said bit­ing things which have hurt the feel­ings of oth­ers, and have been short and impa­tient. I trem­ble, for I have told at least one of these men of this exper­i­ment, and he will think this is the result. It is very dan­ger­ous to tell peo­ple, and yet, I must tell and I must start over now and suc­ceed. This phi­los­o­phy that one can begin all over instant­ly at any moment is prov­ing great help.” (p. 25)

Page 29 is Laubach’s entry for May 14, 1930. It seems to be his first time cap­tur­ing the feel­ings of progress toward his exper­i­ment of seek­ing God’s will and pres­ence every hour. It’s brief, but so encour­ag­ing to read. He sim­ply and earnest­ly describes the feel­ing of progress while acknowl­edg­ing that the road ahead is long yet.

As one makes new dis­cov­er­ies about his friends by being with them, so one dis­cov­ers the indi­vid­u­al­i­ty” of God if one enter­tains Him con­tin­u­ous­ly.” (p. 31)

This con­cen­tra­tion upon God is stren­u­ous, but every­thing else has ceased to be so. I think more clear­ly, I for­get less fre­quent­ly. Things which I did with a strain before, I now do eas­i­ly and with no effort what­ev­er. I wor­ry about noth­ing, and lose no sleep. I walk on air a good part of the time. Even the mir­ror reveals a new light in my eyes and face. I no longer feel in a hur­ry about any­thing. Every­thing goes right. Each minute I meet calm­ly as though it were not impor­tant. Noth­ing can go wrong except one thing. That is that God may slip from my mind if I do not keep on my guard. If He is there, the uni­verse is with me. My task is sim­ple and clear.” (p. 32)

The most impor­tant dis­cov­ery of my whole life is that one can take a lit­tle rough cab­in and trans­form it into a palace just by flood­ing it with the thoughts of God.” (p. 36)

There is no defeat unless one los­es God, and then all is defeat, though it be housed in cas­tles and buried in for­tunes.” (p. 54)

Laubach reflects on his expe­ri­ence and impact of hold­ing God end­less­ly in mind:”

Wor­ries have fad­ed away like ugly clouds, and my soul rests in the sun­shine of per­pet­u­al peace. I can lie down any­where in this uni­verse, bathed around by my own Father’s Spir­it. The very uni­verse has come to seem so homey! I know only a lit­tle more about it than before, but that lit­tle is all! It is vibrant with the elec­tric ecsta­sy of God! I know what it means to be God-intox­i­cat­ed.’” (p. 56)

I choose to look at peo­ple through God, using God as my glass­es, col­ored with His love for them.” (p. 71)


Excerpts from The Game with Minutes

We whis­per God” or Jesus” or Christ” con­stant­ly as we glance at every per­son near us. We try to see dou­ble, as Christ does — we see the per­son as he is and the per­son Christ longs to make him.” (p. 97)

The notion that reli­gion is dull, stu­pid, and sleepy is abhor­rent to God, for He has cre­at­ed infi­nite vari­ety and He loves to sur­prise us. If you are weary of some sleepy form of devo­tion, prob­a­bly God is as weary of it as you are. Shake out of it, and approach Him in one of the count­less fresh direc­tions. When our minds lose the edge of their zest, let us shift to anoth­er form of fel­low­ship as we turn the dial of a radio. Every tree, every cloud, every bird, every orches­tra, every child, every city, every soap bub­ble is alive with God to those who know His lan­guage.” (p. 114)

All excerpts © 2007 by Robert S. Laubach

Thoughts on Business and Life

I occasionally share thoughts on business and life via a newsletter. Sign up here so you don't have to check back to the site for the latest writings.

© 2020 Erik Reagan unless otherwise noted

Some of the links on my site are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. It's basically peanuts, but every little bit will help as I work on self-publishing my first book.