“Jesus describes our struggle between light and dark, life and death, salvation and condemnation, belief and unbelief. … ‘All of us,’ says Paul in Ephesians, are implicated. …So, what am I to do? Double down on earnest religious effort? …A friend encouraged me last week when he described how his spiritual director told him to abstain from all his tried-n-true ways of seeking God — conversational prayer, meditation … “Christian” books, lectio divina, and the like. He’s ‘fasting’ from all that hard work he does to relate to God. …John tells a story from Numbers 21 to point the way forward. Just as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent in the desert that healed people merely by looking at it, so today we only have to look to the love of God. There’s nothing else we can or should do. In his little epistle, John strips away all pious pretense with a shocking admission: ‘In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.’ The only thing I’m asked to do is ‘to know and rely upon the love that God has for us’ (1 John 4:10, 16). Paul says the same thing. I experience God’s favor ‘by grace through faith,’ apart from any human merit. His goodness is a free gift, not a reward for my spiritual efforts. And my faith? Luther compared faith to ‘the beggar’s empty hand’ that receives a gift. God only asks me to accept his acceptance, in the words of the hymn, ‘just as I am, / without one plea.’ This Lent I want to experience what Denise Levertov describes in her poem The Avowal.
‘As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
free fall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.’
A true saint, said Merton, is not someone who has become good through strenuous disciplines, but someone who has experienced the free goodness of God.” Dan Clendenin
- Is your response to these words “But, but, but…?” What explains that?
- Do you “work hard to relate to God?” Could there ever be a reason to abstain from doing that?
Abba, help me free fall into your embrace.
For More: “When Less Is More” Dan Clendenin
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”