A friend of mine, Tom Ashbrook, sent me a copy of his book, Mansions of the Heart. Tom directs a ministry within Church Resource Ministries called Imago Christi, “an international and cross-cultural covenant community that develops spiritual formation resources and provides coaching for Christian leaders so that they may minister out of a deepening love for God and personal transformation in the ‘Image of Christ.’”
His book, Mansions of the Heart, provides a very helpful and comprehensive look at Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle and its seven stages of spiritual maturing in relationship with God. There is much spiritual wisdom to be mined in this classic resources, and Tom has done a wonderful job doing just that.
Here is a paragraph I appreciated where Tom is talking about the “third mansion” of our growing in following Jesus:
“A difficulty that we often encounter in third mansion experiences, however, is that work ‘for’ God can too easily be equated with relationship ‘with’ God. We can mistakenly believe that really hard work for God is the same as a really deep relationship with Him. It can be like two co-workers in an office who have developed some sense of friendship around common tasks but know nothing of the other’s life outside the office.” (p. 99.)
Eugene Peterson, who writes the foreword, offers this from his own experience:
“I felt adequately prepared to teach the truth of God, what to believe. I was well schooled in guiding people in moral and ethical matters, how to behave before God. But when it came to relationship with God, being with God, listening to and answering God, I found that I was reduced to what I had learned rather piecemeal on my own, supplemented by a few slogans and anecdotes I had picked up from others. It wasn’t enough. I knew I needed help.” (p. vii.)
If you’d like to benefit from the wisdom of Teresa of Avila’s classic Interior Castle, you’ll appreciate Tom’s work here.
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