Dec 17, 2007

What are my other choices?

I appreciate the honesty of one of my favorite bloggers - Abbot Joseph. Today's reflection - Where You Do Not Wish to Go - spoke directly to my situation and perhaps it will touch you also. Here are some excerpts (to read the full article, go to Word Incarnate)

One of the things that characterizes the life of one who would follow Jesus ... is that by agreeing to be a disciple of Christ, we are agreeing to be led where we do not wish to go (v. 18). This doesn’t mean that we do not wish to follow Jesus or that we do not wish to go to Heaven as a consequence. But it means that discipleship is costly, and the demands are such that we would not choose for ourselves the hardships and sacrifices that the Gospel requires. The immediate context in John makes it clear that Jesus was referring to St Peter’s martyrdom, but the whole of Christian life is a witness (Greek martys) to Christ and retains something of that character.

“Can you drink the cup that I must drink?” (Mark 10:38).

Why does Jesus say all that stuff about drinking cups of suffering and having to go where we don’t want to go and denying ourselves and taking up our crosses and losing our lives for his sake? Probably because if we don’t do all that we will end up as self-centered, navel-gazing, spineless, complacent, arrogant, obnoxious, hard-hearted schmucks, and we’ll probably forfeit the Kingdom to boot. It’s just that we spontaneously shrink from hearing the summons to suffering and the call to the Cross. Nobody wants to go where they don’t want to go; nobody wants to drink what they don’t want to drink. But the Lord says that this is how it is going to be.

In order to wean us away from the tantalizing tinsel of this world, the Lord needs to set us upon the demanding yet invigorating and enlightening path of service, self-sacrifice, and genuine love. The cup He offers may seem bitter, but that’s only because we’ve become addicted to cokes and kool-aid. We need to acquire a taste for something a little more demanding. We may not wish to go where He calls us to go, but that’s only because we’ve become spiritual couch-potatoes who would rather not venture to climb Mt Everest, even if it promises to be the most exhilarating experience of our lives.

We have to overcome that resistance which is an inheritance of original sin and be persuaded that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth whatever it takes to enter there.

But I’d rather that the Lord give me a hard word than that He simply ignore me, leaving me to my own deficient devices. I’d rather be led to the Cross than left out of the Kingdom.

These are appropriate words for me. This is where I am. This is where I've been. This is where I'm going. I am being led where I wouldn’t have, on my own volition, chosen to go. This is not the comfortable path that I was traveling. I have been launched out into an unknown country with uncertain developments. I don’t even know at this point how we are going to pay our “daily bills”. But all praise be to God, he loves us enough to keep us from our self-centeredness. There is no growth when we are self-sufficient. The muscles of faith cannot be strengthened without exercise and stretching. We can look back at times in our lives when life was difficult and uncertain and be grateful for God’s leading and blessings. We say, “I wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world!” And yet we hesitate the next time the slats are pulled out beneath our feet – so great is our desire for predictability and security.

For those of us who have been or are currently parents of small children, recall those times when your child was upset, rebellious or out of control. What did you say to them? “Look at me…” You wanted to change their perspective and give them assurance. They needed to look into your eyes in order to benefit from your strength and protection.

Lord, keep my eyes on you and my ears attentive to your words of comfort and direction!

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