Obedience: Ordinary things are made holy and great when we desire His will

It’s early morning again. I’m reading Merton’s journal for April 1 where he discusses obedience.

Book Cover

I found myself savoring one particular sentence where he wrote,

But in so far as we desire, with Christ, that the Father’s will may be done in us, as it is in heaven and in Christ, then even the smallest and most ordinary things are made holy and great. (highlighting added)

This recent time has been a one of waiting and worry, of deepening concern where I must learn (and relearn it seems with each new day) to trust and have faith, to lean on and submit to Him whose will I desire above all things. As each day has passed, my prayers for what I thought was desirable have gone seemingly unanswered and yet I know He has heard me.

I know this just because. This is our faith. But, I know this, too, because along the way He has sent me many beautiful reassurances – on holy waiting and patience; on the differences between worry and prayer; and here, where Merton goes on to write:

And then in all things the love of God opens and flowers, and our lives are transformed. This transformation is a manifestation and advent of God in the world.

One of the fruits of a solitary life is a sense of the absolute importance of obeying God—a sense of the need to obey and to seek His will, to choose freely to see and accept what comes from Him, not as a last resort, but as one’s “daily super-substantial bread.” Liberation from automatic obedience into the seriousness and gravity of a free choice to submit. (highlighting added)

Accepting what our Lord provides, ‘not as a last resort,’ but as all we need and precisely what we need for that day. And not just passively accepting His will, but actively participating in His plan by making ‘a free choice to submit.’

Then, I almost laughed out loud as I read Merton’s final thought. He wrote:

But it is not easy to see always where and how!

Well, no it’s not. But our Lord loves us – even in our feeble and flawed attempts to do His will.

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Another day has dawned. Another day filled with opportunities to choose first to submit to the wonder He has planned for us, to give thanks, to rejoice and be glad.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Letters to My Lord – Part I

In this particularly disoriented, discombobulated fourth quarter of 2013, when members of my little family underwent various surgeries and water damage from an upstairs neighbor required we decamp our home for 10 weeks awaiting its repair and restoration, life has been lived in unfamiliar and changing circumstances. Unusual numbers of unfamiliar people and obligations and issues needed immediate tending – insurance adjustors, claims agents, contractors, workpeople – all required my attention in order that their good work could begin to put our Humpty Dumpty life back together again.

Testing can perfect and strengthen

It was not a bad experience…trying, stressful, disorienting, exhausting…but through it all I was offered repeated opportunities to show my love for You, to have it tested. Did I do okay, Father? Was my behavior worthy of Your love? Show me, Father, over the coming months how I could have loved you better.

Graciousness and neighborliness were mightily tested. These two qualities were ones I feared were gone for good after several recent years of a prolonged and deep sense of alienation with my community and with several family members. Only through Your grace has my optimism and joy been restored.

When I was called upon to forgive and to help our neighbor to forgive herself for the unintended mistake that led to our 10-week water-damage disruption, I found I was completely void of any resentment towards her. I genuinely appreciated her generous spirit in the wake of our shared challenges.

Thank You, Father, for this grace, for any good that comes through me, comes from You. And yet, there was certainly more I could have done. Guide me, Father, to better ways.

Patience and support of my husband’s passion for music and musical performance were also tested. He added to his already busy schedule (that includes a full-time job), several weeks of daily obligations in order to participate in the pit-orchestra for a community musical production.

I love that he is able to contribute to our community in this way. It is valued by many and valuable to his own sense of well-being. The icing for him was being able to perform with our son, who played lead guitar for the production. And I have been proud to be able to tell people of both their involvement.

Still, his schedule sometimes wore me out. Rehearsals were followed immediately by nine performances that ran up to the last Sunday before Christmas. With just hours, to go, we plunged directly into to multiple Christmas celebrations with various branches of our family. I know I could have been more gracious as I anticipated his absences and the time constraints they placed on our lives.

Blessedly, I found that all those times he was rehearsing or performing allowed me time to re-center, re-focus on You. We actually thrived in many ways, as a result, didn’t we, Father?

Help me to lean on You more, to trust You better, so that my patience and support of others may grow.

The days to come, read Christmas Letters To God-Part II, Part III, and Part IV.