Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reflective Wednesday

This week I'm thinking about the saints that have gone before me. Traditionally evangelicals have somewhat poo-pooed saints for fear of idol worship. In so doing, we have perhaps missed one of the most interesting and compelling aspects to living in The Story of God.

Hebrews says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. There are literally thousands in the heavenlies cheering us on.  They have lived their call and their journey on this earth. They know the trials and tribulations, are familiar with our sufferings and temptations, but know the outcome. They are dwelling in "his good pleasure." They wake up in perfect l i g h t and p e a c e. They enthrone his m a j e s t y. They continue to carry out His good work, for His good pleasure.

Saints have entered my life rather haphazard. Definitely not your traditional sunday school classroom or text book.  Let me introduce you to this interesting lot:
 1) First there was this guy. Now he snuck in my story early on but I didn't pay much attention. Quite frankly he just blended in with my family, literally. His statue stood in my grandparents garden. I had no idea who he was other than someone my grandparents liked and thought would fit in a backyard landscape. It wasn't until my early thirties, during a time of mediation and reflection, that the Holy Spirit illuminated His presence in my life. I knew very little about Saint Francis of Assisi. Come to find out he had a spirit of reform and passion for change in his church and community. So much so that a little fledgling group of men began living out his values within a holy huddle.  At that season in my journey, the Lord was giving me new eyes to see life with Him and a different way of experiencing church. God used Francis to remind me, "I'm with you. I see you. I am in this. You are not alone in this passion."

2) Then this little lovely fluttered into my life. Teresa of Avila is somethin' else! I was literally walking the isles of Barnes and Noble looking at the latest christian literature. Honestly, with not the best attitude or motive. I was still disillusioned with popular christianity (let's be honest I still am in some ways), my meandering was seeking to dismiss what I saw. But as God always does, (well when we stay open to his voice) He drew me to the cover of a particular book called, "The Interior Castle."  I was working on an early manuscript of my book called, Restoring the Fairytale of the Feminine Heart  and I guess I had castles on the brain. Lo and behold, I had very little idea of the interior castle this lovely was describing. Now here's the thing, that book drew me but was a bit mystic beyond my years. Regardless, God used this holy spitfire to affirm my call as a woman in the ministry, staying firm in my footing that I have things to say and bring to the kingdom whether or not the religious leaders like it, and I am to seek out spiritual friendship and counsel throughout my days. Much like Teresa shared in with her spiritual director and offered those who did life with her. I loved this woman's zest for life with God, her honest tongue that didn't beat around the bush, and her deep union with Christ.

3) Finally there was this guy, John of the Cross. His words entered my heart in a most troubling place, on the mission field brokenhearted and disillusioned in my faith. Up until that point, I didn't realize the desolation of my heart, my very being falling apart, was a treasure trove for kingdom happenings. This was the sacred, holy ground of all saints and apprentices of Jesus. His words written in a devotional seemed to normalize this state in the Christian and even affirm in Christ, "This is the way, walk in it." Saint John of the Cross offered me these words:

Let it suffice to say, then, that God perceives the imperfections within us, and because of his love for us, urges us to grow up.  His love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for this reason he takes us into a dark night. He weans us from all of the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness....Through the dark night pride becomes humility, greed becomes simplicity wrath becomes contentment, luxury becomes peace, gluttony becomes moderation, envy becomes joy, and sloth becomes strength. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night.” (p 36 Dark Night of the Soul).

So this week when we are dressing up in silly garb and going door to door asking for treats, let us not miss the sweetness of the day after November 1st, All Saints Day. For it is a day we are reminded of the great cloud of witnesses--those before, those walking with us now, and those who will come. How wonderful that Jesus is gathering, forming, renewing, and reshaping His people into His likeness, for His pleasure, for our joy!
Who are you in that crowd? What glory do you reflect of our Creator? What do you bring to time, space, and history of the shared-in life with God? You never know whom might be affected by your ordinary life turned extraordinary by J e s u s....


Anonymous said...

St.Francis is especially dear to me. Love, RCS

Rosie said...

I can identify with your feelings about Theresa of Avila. Did you realize that she wrote that manuscript "The Interior Castle" without even re-reading it to check for mistakes?