The title of this post is the combination of the titles of the two books that have most changed my life and most marked my 36-year journey with King Jesus.
I read The Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee during the first year I was a Christian. It taught me that I am a three-part being. I am a soul, and I communicate with the physical world with my body and the spiritual world with my spirit. The work of God is first from the inside working through his Spirit which has taken up his dwelling place in my spirit. Secondly, it is from the outside, where God controls all the circumstances of my life to get through the flesh and break open the hardness of my soul. The goal of this dual working is for the hardness of my soul to be broken open so that the light of Jesus might be revealed, shining from within my spirit, as unhindered as possible by my soul.
Watchman compared this work to a seed. When it is buried in the ground, the pressure of life growing from the inside along with the moisture and pressure on the outside breaks open the seed to release the life within.
I read The Inward Journey by Gene Edwards in my second year as Christian. I would suggest this is out of order because Gene describes the work of God in a Christian’s life while Nee carefully explains God’s working.
The Inward journey taught me what a difficult work God would have with me. It explains the need for suffering and pain in our lives so well that I came away longing to suffer more. (There is nothing wrong with this since it is a gift of God to us that we may not only believe in Jesus, but also suffer with him–Php. 1:29).
Edwards explained how hard I would have to work to prevent myself from fighting against the work of God. He made it clear that the most painful circumstances of my life were the ones most perfectly designed to transform the deepest, most hidden and secret places that I was hiding from God; the ones I most feared being brought to the light of day. The book reveals what frauds we are, deceiving the world around us to look good, trying to deceive God in the same way, and in the end thoroughly deceiving ourselves.
Whether you agree with those teachings or not, they made me a pliable Christian. They enabled me to go through the emotional trauma I desperately needed as a younger man and the two cancers and death of a son I experienced in my 50’s. I am 57 now, and I am more impressed and deeply at peace with God than I have ever been. I am more grateful than I have ever been, and I believe myself to be more pliable than I have ever been.
I love our Father in heaven, I give thanks for the amazing sacrifice, the amazing power that raised him from the dead, and the merciful call of Jesus his Son, and I long for even more of the work of the Spirit in my life. I thank our holy God for putting those books in my life early on to lay such a strong foundation in me.
I do need to make it clear that I am not endorsing all of Watchman Nee’s theology, and I am not endorsing Gene Edwards at all. Gene’s early books are great, and he is one of the best storytellers in the world, but I believe him to have departed from the path I want to be on (or want you to be on). Nonetheless, The Inward Journey has been a major foundation in my life.