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

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We have life, and spirit in us always, for without them we would not exist. But then there is the Divine Life, and the Holy Spirit. And when that Spirit and that Life come into us, then do we truly live, then do we rise into that higher realm of Christ-life, and walk as Children of God among men. 

— Lord, give us your life, and send to us your Holy Spirit that we may begin to truly live. Help us to so live that your Spirit may dwell in us, and that we may be such as can be filled with that Spirit and Life we need so much. 

– Watergirl 🌸

Sorrow by Love’s Service Robed and Crowned

woman-walking-on-the-beach

 

She leaves, but not forsakes. Oft in the night,
Oft at mid-day when all is still around,
Sudden will rise, in dim pathetic light,
Some childish memory of household bliss,
Or sorrow by love’s service robed and crowned;
Rich in his love, she yet will sometimes miss
The mother’s folding arms, the mother’s sealing kiss.

 

~George MacDonald

 

 

Sorrow by love’s service robed and crowned

Leave it to me to pick out the little pieces, instead of looking at the whole. But they shine so brightly… And leave it to George to shine that holy light on everything he touches. As always, severity, combined with tenderness.

This plants a new picture: that when pain and sorrow come, we should not scurry off to a corner to hide, waiting for all to be made right some day. That we, even while suffering and in sorrow still have a job to do; to do love’s service. That we ourselves must learn to be more father-like. And that very service will robe and crown our sorrow. What? Boom. The time of our deliverance is not yet come, and we are not come to peace and ease in Zion – not yet. How could we be happy to be set up, perfectly happy and satisfied to our heart’s content, while so many of our brothers and sisters are still in pain, still under oppression, still crying for salvation? As we are… Our Lord does not sit happily in his Heaven, letting us go through hell, and waiting for the bell to ring. He did not shut down and sink into his own pain and sorrow on the cross. He looked to the needs of his fellow sufferers. To the end, he took on the role of a Father – always looking out for the good of those around himself, always looking to the needs of others more than his own, and caring for his little ones.

He walks beside us every step of the way, and in the dark Thy rod and thy staff comfort me. And so must we enter into His labors, and be a part of the great work of the Lord. We must run alongside our master, following his guide, helping where we can, being as strong as we can. And when we have run our race patiently, then we will have good reward for our labors. One day all will be made right – every tear will be wiped away, and we will have joy for all of our sorrows. So much so that we will remember the former things no longer – somehow. That is what we can look forward to – that is our star of hope, to come to rest in the arms and house of our Father in the end.

But today, we must labor in the fields, and forget about our sorrow. But how? I am not that strong – my arms are weary and tired. I just want this to be over so much of the time. I am not a god, and my hands and feet are made of clay. But I know I must obey – that in the doing, will come the growth. Help us Lord, to be more like you. Fill us with your strength, with your spirit, with your joy and your youth – your LIFE. – We need so much more life… Give us the strength to follow after you, and fill us with your insurmountable and unending love. Give us wisdom, and come to our aid as we follow after you. Help us to look to you as we carry your yoke, even if we have no idea how we can possibly do it, and help us to trust that you will show us the way if you are asking us to do the job. Let your light and your spirit so live in us that we may one day be able to say that truly your yoke is easy, and your burden is light.

~Watergirl

Love is Enough

 

Love is enough for the loving, love without self’s alloy,

Its mighty breast enfolding the flame of a secret joy.

Love is enough for the loving as pure of envy and strife,

It is poured as a fiery torrent from the brimming urns of Life.

 

Love is no money-changer, to weigh the return as gold,

Love is not weak nor selfish, nor faileth, nor groweth old,

Love is as strong as death, his wings to the stars unfurled,

His feet in the deepest places of the chambered underworld.

 

Though the frowns and smiles of the loved be as fights that are lost and won,

Though the cry on the lips of thousands be light to the praise of one,

Though the light of our life that kindleth be set in another’s eyes,

Love doth not die in the darkness or wander away in the sighs.

 

Love is a crown to the loving, a mystical shrine untrod,

A secret lent to the spirit by the breath of the living God.

He stands in the innermost temple, and often in hours unsought

We hear the might of his stirring through the roar of the lovers of thought.

 

He rings with a lingering glory the dusky shapes we see

That move in a twilight chamber in the haunts of memory.

Love is no jester and courtier, no trifler in folly and guile,

To sing at rosèd casement and watch for a wanton’s smile.

 

Love is an earnest spirit, so patient and lonely and strong,

And the woe of his lips is silent, and the time of his torture is long.

His hope is high and distant, his path is steep and hard,

He giveth his all and watcheth, till God shall relieve his guard.

 

Keep we the might of his presence, a flash of the light of the Lord,

A breath of the mighty nature that shaketh its good abroad

That so we may be as the angels and rise to the loftiest lot

Of him who is highest of all things that he giveth and asketh not,

 

Who giveth a self and a will and a place in the ordered plan

Gives also the love of a God for the half-hearted worship of man,

As the awful eyes that are watching and the silent lips that bless

Are turned on the ways of his thousands in a great unconsciousness.

 

Love is enough for the loving, and let it suffice unto me,

As the golden eve is sinking on darkening wood and lea,

As the sun streams out in glory and floods the course of the spheres,

As the humblest rose breaks out from the earth in a simple trust

 

So shall the gifts of the loving be the crown of a living dust,

No spot on the earth of God can take what it never gave,

None, but bounds of Hell, and the rotting space of the Grave.

 

~ GK Chesterton

 

The feeling I had after reading this poem was Where has this poem been all my life? And two,  How does he understand love so clearly? As happens so often, I had just been thinking I need to learn more about love – Lord, help me to learn more about love. The following day I discovered a book of Chesterton’s poetry on my husband’s book shelf. That poem was the first, and it leapt off the page into my heart. How I love the mind (and insight) of Chesterton – I don’t think I will ever get tired of reading him. As I read through the stanzas, the things I had been telling myself about love melted under the scorching light.

 

Love doth not die in the darkness or wander away in the sighs.

In retrospect, I actually can’t remember what I was telling myself about this. But I think it was something along the lines of “If I am not loved, I cannot love; my love will fade away, until all that is left is a small dark ember, which will only come back to life in the warmth of another’s love.” Through the eyes of Love is Enough, I see love as a bigger thing – and a stronger, than I (currently) am.

 

Love is an earnest spirit, so patient and lonely and strong,

And the woe of his lips is silent, and the time of his torture is long.

His hope is high and distant, his path is steep and hard,

He giveth his all and watcheth, till God shall relieve his guard.

I think I had an impression of love as seen through the image of a mother, feminine, soft, and yet somehow persevering. I guess I had ideas about love as being soft & feminine, and yet on the other side somehow also strong. This picture of love still includes all that I see in the ideal of a mother, yet it is somehow a different picture of that strength, and more rock-solid than I had pictured it before. It now seems more masculine – masculine in the sense that it originates, it puts into motion, it drives, it seeks, it gives, it goes on, and on and on, and never stops. Sigh. – We are indeed the lesser children of greater sires. It is a picture so beautiful, so right, so pure. How can I not love it – want it for my own, see my lack in that space, and want to be more like that? Ah love – come in to me; inhabit me, possess me. But there is no “magic pill” to be had. I cannot get love inside merely by desiring to, or by hoping I will “catch” the bug if I get close enough. (Although that is part of it too.) I must grow my love – grow in love, practice love, and shape my love, that it may look like its original at last. Thankfully we have a wonderful teacher to follow.

 

Love is as strong as death, his wings to the stars unfurled,

His feet in the deepest places of the chambered underworld.

This – wings in the stars, and feet in the deepest places of the underworld, reminded me of CS Lewis’s picture of the diver.

One has a picture of someone going right down and dredging the sea bottom. One has a picture of a strong man trying to lift a very big, complicated burden. He stoops down and gets himself right under it so that he himself disappears; and then he straightens his back and moves off with the whole thing swaying on his shoulders.

Or else one has the picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green, and warm, and sunlit water into the pitch-black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out into the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get. This thing is human nature; but, associated with it, all Nature, the new universe.

Wouldn’t that make a beautiful painting?

 

I thought I should make a list, to clarify the thoughts put forth about what love is, and isn’t.

Love Is:

⁃    Enough for the loving
⁃    Without self’s alloy
⁃    Flame of a secret joy
⁃    Pure of envy and strife
⁃    A fiery torrent from the brimming urns of life
⁃    Strong as death
⁃    A crown to the loving
⁃    A mystical shrine untrod
⁃    A secret lent to the spirit by the breath of the living God.
⁃    Rings with a lingering glory the dusky shapes we see
⁃    Love is an earnest spirit
⁃    Patient, lonely and strong
⁃    The woe of his lips is silent
⁃    The time of his torture is long
⁃    His hope is high and distant
⁃    His path is steep and hard
⁃    He giveth his all and watcheth, till God shall relieve his guard
⁃    A flash of the light of the Lord
⁃    A breath of the mighty nature that shaketh its good abroad
⁃    He giveth and asketh not
⁃    Giveth a self and a will
⁃    Gives the love of a God for the half-hearted worship of man
⁃    Eyes that are watching
⁃    Silent lips that bless

Love is Not:

⁃    No money changer
⁃    Does not weigh the return as gold
⁃    Does not die in the darkness
⁃    Does not wander away in the sighs
⁃    Love is no jester and courtier
⁃    No trifler in folly and guile

 

~Watergirl

The Tale of Us

Now, ere I sleep, I wonder what I shall dream.
Some sense of being, utter new, may come
Into my soul while I am blind and dumb—
With shapes and airs and scents which dark hours teem,
Of other sort than those that haunt the day,
Hinting at precious things, ages away
In the long tale of us God to himself doth say.

– George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

The Eternal Gladness

I take a comfort from my very badness:
It is for lack of thee that I am bad.
How close, how infinitely closer yet
Must I come to thee, ere I can pay one debt
Which mere humanity has on me set!
“How close to thee!”—no wonder, soul, thou art glad!
Oneness with him is the eternal gladness.

~ George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

Being Good Vs. Doing Good

“Why do you call me good? None is good except God alone.”

Checked thus, the youth turns to the question which, working in his heart, had brought him running, and made him kneel: what good thing shall he do that he may have eternal life? He thought to gain his objective by a doing, when the very thing desired was a being: he would have that as a possession which must posses him. But the Lord cared neither for isolated truth nor for orphaned deed. It was truth in the inward parts, it was the good heart, the mother of good deeds, he cherished. It was good men he cared about, not notions of good things, or even good actions, save as the outcome of life, of love and will in the soul taking shape and coming forth. He would die to make men good and true. His whole heart would respond to the cry of sad publican or despairing Pharisee, “How am I to be good?”

When the Lord says, “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good?”

we must not put emphasis on the me: he was the proper person to ask, only the question was not the right one. The good thing was a small matter; the good being was all in all. ‘Why ask me about the good thing?’ There is one living good, in whom the good thing, and all good, is alive. Ask me rather about the good person, the god being – the origin of all good. It is not with this or that good thing we have to do, but with that power whence comes our power even to speak the word good. To know God is to be good. It is not to make us do all things right he cares, but to make us hunger and thirst after righteousness.

The youth is looking for some unknown good thing to do, and the Lord sends him back to the doing of what he knows, and that in answer to his question concerning the way to eternal life. He has already more than hinted where the answer lies, namely, in God himself, but that the youth is not yet capable of receiving; he must begin with him farther back:

If thou wouldst enter into life, keep the commandments.

For verily, if the commandments have nothing to do with entering into life, why were they ever given to men? They are the beginning of the way. If a man had kept all those commandments, yet would he not therefore have in him the life eternal; nevertheless, without keeping of the commandments there is no entering into life; the keeping of them is the path to the gate of life. It is not life, but it is the way to it.

The Lord says nothing about the first table of the law: why does he not tell this youth as he did the lawyer, that to love God is everything? He had given him a glimpse of the essence of his own life, had pointed the youth to the heart of all, for him to think of afterwards: he was not ready for it yet. To love God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and mind, is to know God, and to know him is eternal life. But to begin with that would be as sensible as to say to one asking how to reach the top of some mountain, “Just set your foot on that shining snow-clad peak, high there in the blue, and you will at once be where you wish to go.”

George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons