The Spirit Strives With Our Spirit

A man will please God better by believing some things that are not told him, than by confining his faith to those things that are expressly said-said to arouse in us the truth-seeing faculty, the spiritual desire, the prayer for the good things which God will give to them who ask him.

"But is this not dangerous doctrine? Will not a man be taught thus to believe the things he likes best, even to pray for that which he likes best? And will he not grow arrogant in his confidence?"

If it be true that the Spirit strives with our spirit, if it be true that God teaches men, we may safely leave those dreaded results to him. If the man is of the Lord's company, he is safer with him than with those who would secure their safety by hanging on the outskirts and daring nothing. if he is not taught of God in that which he hopes for, God will let him know it. He will receive something else than he prays for. If he can pray to God for anything not good, the answer will come in the flames of that consuming fire. These will soon bring him to some of his spiritual sense. But it will be far better for him to be thus sharply tutored, than to go on a snail's pace in the journey of the spiritual life. And for arrogance, I have seen nothing breed it faster or in more offensive forms than the worship of the letter.

—George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

Thou Art my Home

"That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and his desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to him, 'Thou art my refuge, because thou art my home.'"

-George MacDonald

Because Thou Knowest

I cannot tell why this day I am ill;

But I am well because it is thy will—

Which is to make me pure and right like thee.

Not yet I need escape—’tis bearable

Because thou knowest. And when harder things

Shall rise and gather, and overshadow me,

I shall have comfort in thy strengthenings.

These Golden Moments

And the joke, or tragedy, of it all is that these golden moments in the past, which are so tormenting if we erect them to a norm, are entirely nourishing, wholesome, and enchanting if we are content to accept them for what they are, for memories. Properly bedded down in a past which we do not miserably try to conjure back, it will send up exquisite growths. Leave the bulbs alone, and the new flowers will come up. Grub them up and hope, by fondling and sniffing, to get last year’s blooms, and you will get nothing.
—CS Lewis

IF

 

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

 

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

 

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

 

~ Rudyard Kipling

A Christmas Carol for 1862

(The year of the trouble in Lancashire.)

The skies are pale, the trees are stiff,

The earth is dull and old;

The frost is glittering as if

The very sun were cold.

And hunger fell is joined with frost,

To make men thin and wan:

Come, babe, from heaven, or we are lost;

Be born, O child of man.

 

Thy children cry, the women shake,

The strong men stare about;

They sleep when they should be awake,

They wake ere night is is out.

For they have lost their heritage –

No sweat is on their brow:

Come, babe, and bring them work and wage;

Be born, and save us now.

 

Across the sea, beyond our sight,

Roars on the fierce debate;

The men go down in bloody fight,

The women weep and hate;

And in the right be which that may,

Surely the strife is long!

Come, son of man, thy righteous way,

And right will have no wrong.

 

Good men speak lies against thine own –

Tongue quick, and hearing slow;

They will not let thee walk alone,

And think to serve thee so:

If they the children’s freedom saw

In thee, the children’s king,

They would be still with holy awe,

Or only speak to sing.

 

Some neither lie nor starve nor fight,

Nor yet the poor deny;

But in their hearts all is not right,

-They often sit and sigh.

We need thee every day and hour,

In sunshine and in snow:

Child-king, we pray with all our power –

Be born, and save us so.

 

We are but men and women, Lord;

Thou art a gracious child!

O fill our hearts, and heap our board,

Pray thee – the winter’s wild!

The sky is sad, the trees are bare,

Hunger and hate about:

Come, child, and ill deeds and ill fare

Will soon be driven out.

 

– George MacDonald