Someone once gave me their idea of what a new Christian’s life looked like. They described a garbage can being cleaned by a pressure washer with the stench of decaying garbage filling the air and bits of rotted debris flying everywhere. It was quite a disgusting visual. If the new Christian is serious, however, this is exactly what is happening to him or her. The Holy Spirit comes and floods the garbage-filled sinner with living water and out comes a lifetime of garbage.
Today I am starting a series about the place of darkness, suffering, trials and pain in the life of a Christian. I have been reading Dark Night of the Soul by early church father, St John of the Cross because I have been experiencing a dark time in my life. As I go around cyberspace and read blogs from around the world, I find that many are in dark places and so I think what I am learning may be of benefit to someone other than just myself. If you think you may be one of them, please join me and please jump into the discussion. I am happy you came.
John begins his book talking about new Christians–beginners in the walk. He talks about how God holds these fragile ones to His breast as a mother will hold a newborn baby to her breast to make sure they get the milk of the Word. Somewhere along the way, however, the baby must leave the lap of the mother and begin to stand on their own. For some this is difficult, for others it is not. If the Lord sees someone is not doing well, He may draw them back for more supervision. Those who show promise in venturing out on their own, however, He moves along.
St John of the Cross says we all need refining and fall into the devil’s traps along the way, but some fare better than others. John describes those He moves toward the dark night as the humble ones who do not grow prideful in their spiritual growth, “having very little satisfaction with themselves, they consider all others as far better, and usually have a holy envy of them, and an eagerness to serve God as they do.”
“These souls desire to be taught by anyone who can bring them profit.”
“They rejoice when others are praised; they grieve only that they serve not God like them.”
“They have no desire to speak of things that they do….They are more anxious to speak of their faults and sins…with those who account their actions and spirituality of little value.”
“These souls will give their heart’s blood to anyone that serves God, and will help others to serve Him as much as in them lies.”
“Souls who in the beginning journey with this kind of perfection are, as I understand, and as has been said, a minority,…God leads into the dark night those whom He desires to purify from all imperfections so that He may bring them farther onward.”
“God gives grace to the humble,…even as He denies it to the proud.”
After having put this altogether here, I am not sure my hard time is the dark night of which St John of the Cross speaks because I have such a difficult time dying to self. Nonetheless, this is a good study and so I will continue to put things together around this theme from time to time (as He enlightens me), hopefully, at least weekly.
Something to think about from St. John of the Cross on this Walk with Him Wednesday with Ann,