Thoughts to encourage you to adore Jesus… and entrust yourself to His care.
32 And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead, raised to life again. Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Hebrews 11:32-40 CSB
I want to live so fully in the Spirit that all my thoughts may be as sweet incense ascending to Thee and every act of my life may be an act of worship. Therefore I pray in the words of Thy great servant of old, “I beseech Thee so for to cleanse the intent of mine heart with the unspeakable gift of Thy grace, that I may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise thee.” (1)
In this life every one must carry his cross; but St. Teresa says, that the cross is heavy for him that drags it, not for him that embraces it. Thus our Lord knows well how to strike and how to heal: He woundeth, and cureth, says Job.3 The Holy Spirit, by his sweet unction, renders even ignominies and torments sweet and pleasant: Yea, Lord; for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight. Thus ought we to say in all adversities that happen to us: So be it done, Lord, because so hath it pleased Thee.
As I read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, I feel inadequate, week, and by no means deserving of being in the same book, never mind being in the same chapter of these giants of the faith.
Especially right now, I am dragging… and I struggle, wondering if there is another way, a less exhausting way, to do what needs to get done. It is getting done, but it seems like it is taking so much more…
And then in my devotions I came across de Ligouri’s words, and I think I found an error. The reason I am dragging is that I am dragging my cross rather than embracing it. Instead of looking for where God is working, I am focused on what I’ve been gifted to endure. I should know better!
Those in Hebrews 11 endured far more than I ever will! They embraced their crosses, they didn’t try to gain a release from them, they embraced them – knowing the end is Christ, and knowing He would sustain them through the storms. That is how “ignominies and torments” are rendered sweet and pleasant. (that does sound wonderful!) The problems aren’t removed… they are just changed into moments of communion with Christ…
That is where Tozer’s prayer completed my reading this morning. The idea of living in the Spirit sound incredible, even unbelievable. It is truly, our reality. Praying that we realize this is a great idea! For God will cleanse our heart, and empower us to love Him… that is why the cross is there in the first place. For Him to embrace us, as we learn to embrace Him… and rise with Him into a new life.
(1) A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007). (1)
(2) Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 486.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. 2 The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG)
We can explain what faith really means for an individual only by pointing to the lives of those who have lived it in its fullness: Francis of Assisi, Francis Xavier, Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, Vincent de Paul, John XXIII; in such persons, and basically only in them, can we come to know what kind of decision faith is. As we can see in the lives of such individuals, faith is a kind of passion, or, more correctly, a love that seizes an individual and shows him the direction he must go, however fatiguing it may be—the spiritual equivalent, perhaps, of a mountain to climb, which to the ordinary Christian would seem foolish indeed but to one who has committed himself to the venture is clearly the only direction to take—a direction he would not exchange for any conceivably more comfortable one.
426 In Christ we have every ideal: for he is King, he is Love, he is God.
Hebrews 11, where the quote in red comes from this morning, like the Acts of the Apostles, are chapters without ending.
That is, as Pope Ratzinger does above, the list of people sent by God, the list of those who were seized by the love of God, and shown a way to go, never ends. They are added to the great cloud of witnesses, the people who are passionate about the passion of the Lord, and seem to overcome things that should exhaust them.
For such people, and yes, that includes you and I, there is only the life God planned for us (Eph. 2:8-10) that is the direction we would take, and the longer we wearily tread these paths, the more assured we are that there is no other path worth taking.
The strength, the confidence isn’t ours, otherwise we would go another way (as we too often try to do!) It is part of the love that seizes us, the ideal of Christ as we are called to imitate God, to imitate the Christ who has drawn us to himself. And in doing so, He has made us His holy people.
Paul talks of being united to Him, in our baptism, as we die with Him at the cross, and are raised to new life with him. He talks about the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead being at work in us. This is the love(agape/cHesed,charity ) and mercy that is our gift, the grace that saves us, the charity that transforms us.
For us, it is often hard to see this in our lives. To understand this faith, this trust, this dependence on the love of God, that power which transforms us. And this is why Hebrews shares with us the faith of a few, and describes the faith of those to come. Their faith, their confidence, even in the midst of their brokenness gives us something to observe, a picture of what is going on in us.
Looking at them, seeing their sin and their transformation, we begin to understand what they counted on, the promises of scripture that they knew were fulfilled in their lives, and is being fulfilled in ours.
So this day, take one person of faith, who trusted in God’s work, in His love taking action, and consider that this is happening in your life as well!
And then cry out, confident in the answer, “LORD have mercy on me, a sinner,”
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Location 1054). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.