Monday, April 24, 2006

5o Per Cent Plus One

A while ago I had a flash of inspiration to examine what exactly Christ expects of me. I jotted it down on a notepad, and only noticed it again today.

What I wrote was "absolute best, or top 10?"

Am I trying to live out my life to the fullest? Am I ready to accept all that God has for me, and all that he requests of me?

Or am I content with just getting by? Am I content with being just barely holy enough?

Sadly, I must confess that, inasmuch as many of my sins are due to direct action, my spiritual sloth is probably the one thing that holds me down the most.

For several years I've felt like God will want me to enter politics someday, and that I will go out of a sense of duty and obedience. I'll go because nobody else will, and somebody will have to.

Yet the other day I heard the voice of God asking me, "Do you want to be an effective politician and do a lot of good for this country, or would you rather be a saint?"

The allure of fame & power weighs rather unequally against the ongoing servitude of sainthood; the latter is the better road to take. But the road to sainthood involves too much sacrifice to be possible for one who is content merely to "get by."

So what of it? The call to perfect surrender is as loud and clear as it's ever been, yet I waffle.

Today I was going through an old book I picked up at Aldersgate College several years back. It's the biography of WWI fighter pilot and Protestant missionary Fenton Hall, who succumbed to illness while trying to spread the Gospel in Brazil back in the early 1920's. Based largely on his journals, it reads like a story of a naïve young man who hadn't been through any real growth experiences. But there is an eagerness and zeal that can't be hidden, especially when talks about his relationship with God. The following statement jumped out at me:

I have sometimes a sort of fear, "Well, if I surrender everything I know to Him, I won't have anything left to surrender!" (Speaking, of course, about things spiritual, points in which we find ourselves not surrendered, or suspect that we are not altogether surrendered.) But somehow there always seems to be something new to give Him, and when you get into the habit of it there's nothing so joyful as hauling out some skulking Agag [cf I Sam. 15:32] and hewing him in pieces before the Lord (it sounds a bit bloodthirsty, but I'm sure Samuel enjoyed it - even if Agag didn't!) Well, anyhow, these "Agags" have nothing to be said for them. They are a bad old crew. Many of them are very moral and respectable Agags. Some of them are very laudable and pious Agags. But all of them are kings of Amalek - Amalek, the flesh, the first enemy that attacks God's people when they escape from Egypt!

Fenton Hall, Pioneer and Hero - 1925

Time and time again I have surrendered all to Jesus, but it must not be working, because I have to keep doing it.

We are called to surrender all, not just the bad stuff. We are called to give Christ our talents in addition to our hurts. Nothing good we do does any good for God without his commission on it. Imagine Jonah saying, "I'll go west, and evangelize America instead." We all know how that turned out.

St. Theresa of Avila said, "We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can - namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us. "

So once again I renew my surrender. I surrender especially the part of me that is too lazy to get up for morning prayer. The part that is too lazy to stay up for evening prayer. The part of me that has been carrying a beautiful rosary for four months but has only fingered its beads thrice.

I surrender my desire to get into heaven by the skin of my calloused ass. Lord, challenge me again. Send a storm; rock my boat.

And have the whale ready.

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