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.
“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)
“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
© 2023 Erik Reagan unless otherwise noted
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