“The eternal law of righteousness ordains that he who will not submit to God’s sweet rule shall suffer the bitter tyranny of self. But he who wears the easy yoke and light burden of love (Matt. 11:30) will escape the intolerable weight of his own self-will.”
― Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
Rail against God we do all our lives, until the time comes when our resistance is melted and we are broken to the point of being open to divine control for the very first time. Perhaps we were brought up in a Christian home, and, because of our default compliance or a reasonable rebellion, we can’t quite understand what all the seditious fuss is about. Some truly need to resist God all the way until the circumstances of a life spent running one’s own agenda proves its own tyranny.
Then, for a moment, we take what Christ says in the gospels seriously – notably Matthew 11:28-30 – and we believe enough to give him a try. As if we think God owes us something, we try him on.
But this is not how salvation often works. Salvation is usually a torrent. It sweeps us off our feet. Then we realise, as if we needed God to truly drive the agenda, that when God is in control we are happiest, lightest, contented, and never more truthfully free.
There’s suddenly no more effort to be expended. Not that life is suddenly wistful and burden-free. On the contrary; we may take those hardships and forge a covenant of peace because we accept our reality. After all, we are now a friend of God’s with unspeakable eternal and spiritual benefits.
I recall going to AA meetings where one of the guys there would say, “Just give this program your all for three months... God will confirm to you its value!” I knew what he meant; if anyone gives their all to God for any length of time, they can’t help but be blessed.
Whether God sweeps us off our feet or not, we have to make a decision. Making a decision is a thing none of us gets away with.
God is making an overture for your heart, today, but our Lord won’t force his way in. We must serenely and supremely give our ways and wills over to his.
There is a weight that hangs over all humankind because of a human will gone crazy. When we have given up the rights to ourselves, we are astounded how close we came to be in spiritual oblivion. At the end of ourselves is the beginning of God.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.