Six words

It is so easy to grumble, isn’t it?  Here’s a little encouragement from Amy Carmichael to choose another way of looking at your life:

Num 11.5: We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic.

Ps 40.10 (BCP): I should fulfill Thy will, O my God: I am content to do it.

To think of nice things one can’t have is to become discontented and grumpy.  Is there something you want and can’t have today?  Are you tempted to grouse about it?  repeat that little string of six words to yourself quite slowly and solemnly: “Fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic.”  If you haven’t time for all six just say, “Cucumbers,” and see what will happen.  First you will laugh.  Then in a flash you will remember those foolish and ungrateful people whose story you know so well.  You will remember, too, how patiently God bore with them; and you will be ashamed that even for one moment you joined forces with them.

We are all sure to be tempted by thoughts of fish, cucumbers, melons, onions, leeks, and garlic–things we would like but cannot have at present.  But there is another set of six words which is as happy as the first set of six is unhappy.  They were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ about His Father’s will: I am content to do it.

Which set of six will you take for your own?  You can’t have both; they won’t mix.  So choose.

“Stay with me, Lord.”

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Simon’s heart was racing from effort and emotion, and he gasped for breath as he made his way through the fish to where Jesus was sitting in the stern.  Simon approached this man whose presence had become almost unbearable: they were too different, too distant, too “other.”  And yet it seemed to him that this presence was such an absolute gift to him that only Jesus could reestablish the correct distance between them.

Simon was overtaken by a sense of unworthiness: everything in his life that was petty, false, angry, silly, greedy proud, vile had now become a heavy, nauseating heap.

He was surprised himself by what he cried out in front of everyone: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5.8).  And he knew that no truer words had ever come from his lips.

Even so, just as his words were disappearing into the noise of the water, the wind, the boat, Simon understood that these words, too, were false.  They were no longer true before that face, before the expression of Jesus, who continued to stare at him in silence.  The words were true inside of Peter himself, in his heart, in his humanity, but they were no longer true before Jesus.  He had not yet finished saying, “Depart from me, Lord,” when his heart began crying in desolation, “No! Stay with me, Lord!  Take me with you!”

~Dom Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, O. Cist.

Psalms and hymns we know by heart

Amy Carmichael starts this piece by asking: “Do you ever find prayer difficult because of tiredness or dryness?”  If your answer is yes, read on.

Ps 31.5  Into Your hands I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Do you ever find prayer difficult because of tiredness or dryness?  When that is so, it is an immense help to let the Psalms and hymns we know by heart say themselves or sing themselves inside us.  This is possible anywhere and at any time.

We can’t be mistaken in using this easy, open way of prayer, for our Lord Jesus used it.  His very last prayer, when He was far too tired to pray as He usually did, was Psalm 31.5.  Every Jewish mother used to teach her child to say those words as a good-night prayer.

Hymns, little prayer-songs of our own, even the simplest of them, can sing us into His love.  Or more truly, into the consciousness of His love, for we are never for one moment out of it.

Friday: from the archives

Something from Amy Carmichael:

1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.

Let us take time today to consider the love of God.

Some of us are tempted to fear about ourselves.  What about tomorrow?  Shall we be able to go on?  Perfect love casts out fear.  Love God and there will be no room for fear, for to love is to trust and if we trust we do not fear.

Some of us are tempted to fear the future.  There again perfect love casts out fear.  He who has led will lead.  It quickens love and encourages faith to think of all that God has done.  He has not brought us so far, to leave us now.

So let us open all our windows and our doors to the great love of God.  Love is like light.  It will flood our rooms if only we open to it.  Let us take time today to open more fully than ever before to the blessed love of God.