Life, and its Majesty…

I felt that something was not right with me, that something was required of me which I was not rendering. I could not, however, have told you what it was. Possibly the feeling had been for some time growing; but that day, so far as I can tell, I was first aware of it; and I presume it was the dim cause of my turning at the sound of a few singing voices, and entering that chapel.

I found about a dozen people present. Something in the air of the place, meagre and waste as it looked, yet induced me to remain. An address followed from a pale-faced, weak-looking man of middle age, who had no gift of person, voice, or utterance, to recommend what he said. But there dwelt a more powerful enforcement in him than any of those,–that of earnestness.

I went again, and again; and slowly, I cannot well explain how, the sense of life and its majesty grew upon me. Mr. Walton will, I trust, understand me when I say, that to one hungering for bread, it is of little consequence in what sort of platter it is handed him. This was a dissenting chapel,–of what order, it was long before I knew,–and my predilection was for the Church-services, those to which my father had accustomed me; but any comparison of the two to the prejudice of either, I should still–although a communicant of the Church of England–regard with absolute indifference. “It will be sufficient for my present purpose to allude to the one practical thought which was the main fruit I gathered from this good man,–the fruit by which I know that he was good.

[Footnote: Something like this is the interpretation of the word: “By their fruits ye shall know them” given by Mr. Maurice,–an interpretation which opens much.–G.M.D.]

It was this,–that if all the labor of God, as my teacher said, was to bring sons into glory, lifting them out of the abyss of evil bondage up to the rock of his pure freedom, the only worthy end of life must be to work in the same direction,–to be a fellow-worker with God. Might I not, then, do something such, in my small way, and lose no jot of my labor? I thought. The urging, the hope, grew in me. But I was not left to feel blindly after some new and unknown method of labor.

My teacher taught me that the way for me to help others was not to tell them their duty, but myself to learn of Him who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. As I learned of him, I should be able to help them. I have never had any theory but just to be their friend,–to do for them the best I can. When I feel I may, I tell them what has done me good, but I never urge any belief of mine upon their acceptance.

George MacDonald

The Vicar’s Daughter, Chapter Nineteen

Reparagraphed

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Words of God

All created things are words of God, light, darkness, water, fire, the smallness of children, the friendship of animals, science, rhythm, poetry, music, art, the tenderness of mothers, the ardor of lovers. Above our heads, under our feet, within our hearts, words of God whisper and laugh and sing one thing: ‘See how I love you!’

–Caryll Houselander

He Always Knew

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once.”

“He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.

― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Heart-Security and Soul-Safety

“That moment I felt a little hand poke itself into mine. I looked down, and there was Gerard Weir looking up in my face. I found myself in the midst of the children coming out of school, for it was Saturday, and a half-holiday. He smiled in my face, and I hope I smiled in his; and so, hand in hand, we went on to the vicarage, where I gave him up to my sister.

But I cannot convey to my reader any notion of the quietness that entered my heart with the grasp of that childish hand. I think it was the faith of the boy in me that comforted me, but I could not help thinking of the words of our Lord about receiving a child in His name, and so receiving Him.

By the time we reached the vicarage my heart was very quiet. As the little child held by my hand, so I seemed to be holding by God’s hand. And a sense of heart-security, as well as soul-safety, awoke in me; and I said to myself,–Surely He will take care of my heart as well as of my mind and my conscience.

For one blessed moment I seemed to be at the very centre of things, looking out quietly upon my own troubled emotions as upon something outside of me–apart from me, even as one from the firm rock may look abroad upon the vexed sea. And I thought I then knew something of what the apostle meant when he said, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” I knew that there was a deeper self than that which was thus troubled.”

George MacDonald

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood

Chapter 23

A Life Lost From its Father-Life!

“My soul leans toward him; stretches forth its arms,

  And waits expectant. Speak to me, my God;

  And let me know the living Father cares

  For me, even me; for this one of his children. —

  Hast thou no word for me? I am thy thought.

  God, let thy mighty heart beat into mine,

  And let mine answer as a pulse to thine.

  See, I am low; yea, very low; but thou

  Art high, and thou canst lift me up to thee.

  I am a child, a fool before thee, God;

  But thou hast made my weakness as my strength.

  I am an emptiness for thee to fill;

  My soul, a cavern for thy sea. I lie

  Diffused, abandoning myself to thee….

 — I will look up, if life should fail in looking.

  Ah me! A stream cut from my parent-spring!

  Ah me! A life lost from its father-life!”

— George MacDonald, Within and Without

Lead Me to Him

“My friend, if one should tell a homeless boy,

  ”There is your father’s house: go in and rest;”

  Through every open room the child would pass,

  Timidly looking for the friendly eye;

  Fearing to touch, scarce daring even to wonder

  At what he saw, until he found his sire;

  But gathered to his bosom, straight he is

  The heir of all; he knows it ‘mid his tears.

  And so with me: not having seen Him yet,

  The light rests on me with a heaviness;

  All beauty wears to me a doubtful look;

  A voice is in the wind I do not know;

  A meaning on the face of the high hills

  Whose utterance I cannot comprehend.

  A something is behind them: that is God.

  These are his words, I doubt not, language strange;

  These are the expressions of his shining thoughts;

  And he is present, but I find him not.

  I have not yet been held close to his heart.

  Once in his inner room, and by his eyes

  Acknowledged, I shall find my home in these,

  ’Mid sights familiar as a mother’s smiles,

  And sounds that never lose love’s mystery.

  Then they will comfort me. Lead me to Him.”

— George MacDonald

Thou Art Making Me

But thou art making me, I thank thee, sire.

What thou hast done and doest thou know’st well,

And I will help thee:—gently in thy fire

I will lie burning; on thy potter’s-wheel

I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel;

Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,

And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.

—George MacDonald