Archive for October, 2005

The God who is There.

October 25, 2005

A member of the court of Louis the XIV once wrote Archbishop Fenelon for advice about the distress he felt, due to his occupation, that prevented him from having all of the time alone with the Lord that he wanted. Fenelon wrote him this:

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“Happy then those whom God takes away from their own will to attach to his own! Those whom God is pleased to chain with his own hands are free and happy, as those who chain themselves by their passions are miserable. In this apparent captivity, they can no longer do what they wish. So much the better. They do from morning to night against their inclinations, what God wants them to do. He holds them bound by hand and foot by the lines of his will. He never leaves them a single moment to themselves. He is jealous of this tyrannous “I,” which wants all for itself. He leads relentlessly from vexation to vexation, from importunity to importunity, and makes you accomplish his greatest plans by these conditions of boredom, by childish and idle conversations, of which we are ashamed. He presses the faithful soul, and no longer lets it get its breath. Hardly one annoying person goes away before God sends another to advance his work. We should like to be free to think about God, but we unite ourselves much better with him through his crucifying will, than by consoling ourselves with sweet and loving thoughts of his goodness. We should like to be by ourselves to be more with God. We do not realize that there is no worse way of being with God, than to want to be also by ourselves…

“It is true that we ought to profit by all our free moments to disengage ourselves. Indeed we must before everything else keep some time to relax mind and body in a state of recollection. But for the rest of the day, when the torrent sweeps us away in spite of ourselves, we must let ourselves be carried off with no regret. You will find God in this sweeping away. You will find him in all the more pure a way, because you will not have chosen this way of seeking him.”
(p.16, Christian Perfection)

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This from a man who was best friends with Madame Guyon. You don’t get much deeper than these guys. But Fenelon reminds us that, since God is sovereign, you don’t have to fear that “life” will interfere with your relationship with God. You are no farther from him in your job or your daily chores than you are when you are alone with him in silence. Both times are needed, mind you. But ultimately one is not better than the other.

That’s really good. Because there’s a whole lot more of the former than there is of the latter.

Thanks, Francois. I needed that.

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It’s Amazing What Perspective Can Do

October 12, 2005

I work around people who don’t get much perspective. When something goes wrong, it’s so awful. Life is terrible. They flash with such anger and anxiety about things that just aren’t that bad. We heard through the grapevine that something was going to make our jobs harder. Now people are stomping around threatening to quit. Or sue! Wow. Take a breath, man. Get a hobby or something.

I find myself laughing at the things I’m hearing. “Oh, so that’s what’s going to happen next? HA! Don’t you think that’s funny?” NO I DON’T, they say back. Oh yeah, I forgot. I often forget that I’m looking at things from a vantage point that everyone else around me isn’t necessarily sharing.

When you know there are things so much more important than your lunch break, or your professional development requirements, or your list of duties at your job, it just doesn’t rip you up inside like it does other people. Take a deep breath. Go somewhere quiet for a minute. And remember. Remember what’s important. Listen to a song or a piece of music that reminds you. Read that thing that always reminds you. Shut everything else out for a second and remember that the world is bigger than the problems of this moment.

The same thing goes for my spiritual life. I can think of a thousand things I can do wrong with that. I know so many wrong turns to take in following God, I even forget that I knew some of them. This is multiplied in an active, functioning community of believers. So many things I can do and say that will NOT benefit the church. But when I feel myself sweating over whether or not I’m “doing it right,” I step back a second. Then I remember:

Oh yeah. I didn’t start this thing anyway. I heard my name called out in some deep place inside, and I responded. I’ve felt that voice so many times, and everytime I’ve followed it I’ve found the Lord at the end of it. Every time. Like a sheep that gets afraid in a new place, I only need to wait a minute, and I’ll hear it. That voice.

I know that voice. It’s never steered me wrong. I have nothing to fear. In His care, even if I stumble and fall, He will restore me. What can separate me from such a One as this?

That’s so freeing! I’m ready to jump in there and make a bunch of mistakes! Hot dang! I get to screw up all kinds of things today! Then I get to watch and see how my Shepherd will make it all go exactly the way He wants. What a life!