“Real true faith is man’s weakness leaning on God’s strength.” (D.L. Moody)
I frequently turn to Catherine Doherty’s writings when I am struggling. This is one of my favorites of hers. May reading it bring you hope.
Faith is a country of darkness into which we venture because we love and believe in the Beloved, who is beyond all reasoning, all understanding, all comprehension. And at the same time, paradoxically, is enclosed within us: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Faith must go through this strange dark land, following him whom it loves.
Christ, our Beloved, becomes the door, the way into and through this darkness. And suddenly our heart knows that if we will pass through the door and walk along that way, we will see the Father.
What does it mean to see the Father? It means to assuage that hunger that has been put in man’s heart by God himself, the hunger of finally meeting absolute love. We yearn for it. All of us do. We arise and go on a pilgrimage, guided only by faith that we must journey toward the face of perfect Love–because for this we were created, to be one with the Love.
If we embark upon this quest, into the land where we may not be able to hear, may not be able to see, may not be able even to speak, suddenly we will be mysteriously visited. A hand will touch our ears and they will be opened, not only to the speech of man but to the speech of God. A hand will touch our eyes and we will see, not only with our eyes, but with the sight of God. A hand will touch our tongue, and we will speak, not only as men do, but as God speaks, and we will become prophets of the Lord.
True, on the road to the Father we shall fall, for we shall sin. We may turn away from God, we may leave the Church, we may think that we have left everything. But faith being a gift of God, it does not desert us; we desert it, but it follows us. We leave the Church, but the Church–which is part of faith, for it is part of Christs–does not leave us. We turn away from God, but God never turns away from us.
“Before the sealed tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth” (11:43-44). This commanding cry is addressed to every man, because we are all marked for death, all of us; it is the voice of he who is the Lord of life and desires that all “have it in abundance” (John 10:10). Christ has not resigned himself to the tombs that we have created with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He does not resign himself to this! He invites us, he almost commands us, to come out of the tombs in which our sins have buried us. He insistently calls us out of the darkness of the prison in which we have shut ourselves, contenting ourselves with a false, egoistic and mediocre life. “Come out!” he tells us, “Come out!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to let ourselves be seized by these words of Jesus that he repeats to each one of us today. It is an invitation to remove the “burial shroud,” the burial shroud of pride. Pride makes us slaves, slaves to ourselves, slaves of many idols, of many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey this command of Jesus, going out into the light, into life; when the masks fall from our face – often we are masked by sin, the masks must fall! – and we rediscover the courage of our true face, created in the image and likeness of God.” (Pope Francis)
I was doing some study on Psalm 5 this morning and came across this comment by Amy Carmichael on verse 3:
“’And will look up’, will keep watch, like Habakkuk on his watch-tower. Have you ever found that your Father has answered a forgotten prayer? I have, and I always feel so ashamed; it is so rude to forget. A ‘Prayer-and-Answer Notebook’ helps one to remember. It is evidence, which even the devil cannot dispute, of traffic with Heaven. It kindles love; ‘I love the Lord because He hath heard’ (Ps 116.1). How often we have had cause to say that. My first note-book turned up among some old papers lately. To read the notes was like finding sprays of verbena between the leaves of a book; you know how astonishingly fragrant they can be. There was one little sentence that belonged to a rainy Sunday morning when I was, I suppose, about ten, so that leaf was about sixty years old, but it might have been only just picked, for as I read the words I remembered every detail of that prayer and that answer.
“If any of you keep such a book do not forget that the answer to many prayers is ‘Wait’, or sometimes, ‘No, not that, but something else, which, when you see Me, you will know was a far better thing.’”
Thinking today about Corrie ten Boom’s famous quote about embroidery–how we see one side, but God the other:
“Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown.” – (Corrie Ten Boom in My Heart Sings)
If you would like to see the actual embroidery she was referring to, you can go here.
Watch the honest and faith-filled sharing of the wives of the five missionaries who were killed by the Aucas in 1956: Women of Faith.
And here’s the story:
Five Missionaries Speared To Death In Jungle
Many people thought it was a tragic waste of a life when Jim Elliot and the other four missionaries died trying to contact the unreached Aucas.
Yet, how many Christians would risk their life for an opportunity to share the gospel? Jim Elliot, a young modern martyr, gave what he could not keep and gained what he could not lose.
A ‘missions’ statistic that profoundly challenged Jim was, “There is one Christian worker for every 50,000 people in foreign lands, while there is one to every 500 in the United States.” Early in 1952, Jim Elliot sailed for Ecuador. The plan was to locate in an old oil station that was abandoned because it was considered too dangerous for oil personnel. It was close to the Auca tribe and had a small airstrip. In February 1953, Jim and Elisabeth met in Quito and then on October 8, 1953 they were married. Their daughter, Valerie, was born two years later. Jim and Elisabeth worked together in translating the New Testament into the Quechua Indian language at the new mission station. The Aucas were a violent and murderous tribe and had never had any contact with the outside world. Jim wanted to bring the gospel there so he started a plan which was called Operation Auca. Besides him and his wife, his team consisted of five more missionary couples.
‘NOT A LONG LIFE, BUT A FULL ONE’
The men discovered the first Auca huts with the help of a missionary jungle pilot, Nate Saint. The first attempt to contact them was by airplane. They would fly around the camp shouting friendship words in the Auca language through a loud speaker and dropping down gifts in a basket. Encouraged by this progress, after three to four months of gift dropping, they decided to make a base on the Curray River, ‘Palm Beach’. After they had set up shelter they eventually made contact with the Aucas. After a little persuasion, they were able to convince some to come into their camp. Encouraged by this visit, the men felt that it was time to go in and try to minister to them.
One morning, after numerous songs of praise and considerable prayer, the men radioed their wives saying that they were going to go into the village and would radio them again later. ‘Operation Auca’ was under way. The next day, a group of twenty or thirty Aucas went to Palm Beach. “Guys, the Aucas are coming!” As soon as the others heard that, they flew into action straightening up their camp. Little did these five men know that this would be their last few hours of life. The last radio contact they made was Jim calling his wife saying, “We’ll call you back in three hours.” Jim Elliot’s body was found down stream with three others. Their bodies had been brutally pierced with spears and hacked by machetes.
After Jim’s death, Elisabeth, her daughter and another of the missionaries sister, Rachel, moved to work with the Auca Indians. The love of Christ shown through their forgiveness allowed them to have amazing success with the once murderous Indians. Jim’s life was not a waste, in fact, God used his death to bring life through salvation to many Aucas and encouragement and inspiration to thousands of believers worldwide.
Catherine Doherty writes about the love that finds us in the darkness:
Through faith we are able to turn our faces to God and meet his gaze. Each day becomes more and more luminous. The veil between God and man becomes less and less until it seems as if we can almost reach out and touch God.
Faith is a pulsating thing; a light, a sun that nothing can dim if it exists in the hearts of men. That’s why it’s so beautiful. God gives it to me saying, “I love you. Do you love me back? Come and follow me in the darkness. I want to know if you are ready to go into the things that you do not see yet, on faith alone.”
Then you look at God, or at what you think is God in your mind, and you say, “Look, this is fine, but you’re inviting me to what? An emptiness? A nothingness? There is nothing to see. I cannot touch you. I cannot feel you.” Then God goes on to say, “I invite you to a relationship of love: your love of me, my love of you.” Yes, God comes to us as an invitation to love. . . .
At this moment love surges in our heart like a tremendous sea that takes us in and lays us in the arms of God whom we haven’t seen but in whom we believe. Across the waves we hear, “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20.29). Now I walk in the darkness of faith and I see. I see more clearly than is possible with my fleshly eyes.
(Catherine Doherty, Re-entry into Faith: “Courage–be not afraid!”)