Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Open Hands - Part 2

Joan Andrews is an example of the cost of an utter "unclasping" of one's own rights and privileges.  The call --Will you do this one thing for Me? -- comes to each of us in some form.  The thing required may be severely criticized, as Joan's stance has been.

Often the things which are taking place in the spiritual life are hidden to all but the eye of God, while the outward appearance seems nothing but unnecessary waste.  The judge who imposed Joan Andrews's sentence said, "It's a shame Miss Andrews has chosen to waste her life in prison instead of accomplishing something."  He could not fathom her regarding it as a privilege, as the apostles also did, to suffer shame for the name of Christ.  Paul even called it a happiness.  Joan had not chosen to waste her life but to spend it for her Master -- a very different thing, frequently misinterpreted.  She unclasped her hands utterly, "past all power of closing again," and there she sits in a cell, praying, singing, writing her letters, encouraging and ministering to other prisoners (even in solitary she was able to read her Bible to the girl int he next cell).

This is what it means to be a witness --to live the life of sacrificial love, a life which makes no sense whatsoever if this world is all there is.

Often there seems to be no visible reason for our having to let go.  But life, our spiritual life in Christ, depends on it.  The life-out-of-death cycle must proceed.

There are many voices to advocate escape from suffering through drugs, divorce, abortion, euthanasia, suicide.  "How far we are,"writes a friend of mine, "from saying with St. Paul, 'All I care for is to know Christ, to experience the power of his resurrection (no problem there) and to share his sufferings, in growing conformity with his death'" (Phil 3:10).

Eternal life means knowing God.  All our life on earth is designed to facilitate that.  But knowing Him must include sharing His sufferings by reproducing the pattern of His death.  Instead of seeking first for escape from suffering, the soul hungry to know Christ will seek in it the means to know Him better.  Our human nature would look first for someone to blame, and focus its responses on that person.  The spiritual mind looks first to God, "Teach me Thy way."  The rest can wait.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

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