If a man has no worries about himself at all for the sake of love toward God and the working of good deeds, knowing that God is taking care of him, this is a true and wise hope. But if a man takes care of his own business and turns to God in prayer only when misfortunes come upon him which are beyond his power, and then he begins to hope in God, such a hope is vain and false. A true hope seeks only the Kingdom of God… the heart can have no peace until it obtains such a hope. This hope pacifies the heart and produces joy within it.
~St. Seraphim of Sarov
For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
~ The Weeping Prophet in Jeremiah 29
Oh beloved, it is true.
There is an eternal edge to the walk of a mystic, and follower of Jesus. Oh, have no doubt, this fool realizes that he needs an anchor in the Word, in the Church, and in specific men and women who will keep me from flying off into the deep blue.
However, with the anchors, come a beautiful freedom. Within the boundless bounds of His Great Love, we find that there is also a center to that place. It is in the very heart of Jesus. And somehow, in our journey, we find that we have discovered the most beautiful of outer boundaries to a country even deeper in.
We get a taste. We see just a bit of the light from a distance. And it knocks us to our knees for its beauty.
Nothing else matters after this. We know exactly where we want to go – forever.
It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us…
Can we see it?
This is what the entire story is about. It is about us turning fully away from all of the falseness of this plane, and turning towards The Truth Himself. But, the beauty is that the journey is not really a distance. The Journey is in me coming to believe that He will actually be found.
But OH! He Loves to be found.
So, are you going through a tough time? This fool of a writer has been on a gauntlet for nearly 17 years. It is the pain of loss and failure that have been the fuel with which He has burned away my hope in anything else. But, may i preach for a moment? I found Him! And you will most certainly find Him too!
Tonight is your night. Seek. Listen to His Voice. Taste the joy ahead. He is right here. Just seek.
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”
The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned–our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night’s sleep–all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.”
My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
~ Brennan Manning