“‘My daughter, I’m afraid you’ve got to live in this room for a long time. Now there’s one thing I want you to do for my sake.’ “‘What’s that?’ she asked, surprised to hear there was anything left which she could do for anybody. “‘I want you to turn out all these physic bottles, and make your room pleasant and pretty for me to come and sit in. You see, I shall spend a good deal of my time here! Now I don’t like dust and darkness. I like to see flowers on the table, and sunshine in at the window. Will you do this to please me?’
From What Katy Did
by Susan Coolidge
‘With the help of divine grace we must renounce our own will. We already have grace from God, therefore we need not wish for more, for its chief value lies in its resignation of our will to that of God.’
From The Interior Castle
by St. Teresa of Jesus
(paraphrased by me)
How are these two passages related? How can the words of a 16th century Spanish Roman Catholic nun and a 19th century American protestant children’s author be related? Answers on a postcard, please.
All joking aside, actually it turns out they are, because when we stop trying to prove ourselves to God (by ‘serving’ him or by sticking to all the ‘rules’, etc.) we leave room for grace. And the only effort we have to make is to ‘keep ourselves nice’. God may ask us to do something, or to do little, but whatever he asks we must do it gladly, willingly, obediently. In the novel What Katy Did, Katy is badly injured and unable to leave her bed, but she still has something to offer to God, and through this small act of obedience she retains the ability to be open, and receptive, to his grace. This is not to say that we have to do what God wants or else… (cue dramatic music) but we must make the choice to follow God, and this choice happens repeatedly. I am not talking about a re-committal, but more of a repeated (daily) recognition of where I have gone wrong, or where I could go wrong, and a repeated surrender of self because self continually tries to get in the way of God.
So what do we do? How do we do this? Turns out it’s simple – we must rest in him. All we have to do is what he tells us to do. For me, at this stage of my life (and this came as a shock – a genuine jaw-dropping revelation) all I have to do is to be me.
Same goes for you, and for all of us. Trust. Surrender. Rest. Abide in Him.
‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]’
Matthew 11:28 (Amplified)
Anyone who confesses (acknowledges, owns) that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he [abides, lives, makes his home] in God.
1 John 4:15 (Amplified)
This beautiful song by Rumer so reminds me of our earthly journey.