Deciding what I most need out of life, carefully calculating my next move, and generally allowing my autonomous self to run amuck inflates my sense of self-importance and reduces the God of my incredible journey to the role of spectator on the sidelines. It is only the wisdom and perspective gleaned from an hour of silent prayer each morning that prevents me from running for CEO of the universe. ~ Brennan Manning
When I began to read Chapter 7 of Dark Night of the Soul, I breathed a sigh of relief. St John of the Cross was dealing with the sin of spiritual envy and sloth. I am a lot of things, but envious and slothful are not two of them. I love to see people bloom in their gifts. I love to encourage newbies at anything. I love to see pure, raw talent exploding before me and I am not jealous of anyone. Then I looked at the sin of slothfulness. I am a regular Martha and can be seen flitting around, making myself busy at any function. Unfortunately, I am also like Martha when I complain about having to do the will of God before my own will is satisfied, ie, “my house is in order”. Ouch!
I am a planner. I am task-oriented and time-conscious so it is natural that, in my mind, the day looks like a pie cut into pieces with each piece labeled with its purpose. God looks at that pie in my mind and must chuckle, “She thinks this is what it’s all about, does she?” Lovingly He taps me to go in His direction if I give Him a moment of “my” time, but, if I don’t, He lovingly, but sadly, lets me go in my own direction. I am off to start “my” day. He is close-by, but I can’t hear Him because He’s not speaking because I am not asking for directions. Only when things fall apart does the spiritual sloth realize she needs Jesus. It is then she tries to rein herself in and pray more, fast, read her Bible, memorize Scripture, but it does no good, because she’s doing it for the wrong reason.
St John of the Cross says such a person needs the dark night. The dark night
takes from them all these irrelevancies and purilities, and by very different means causes them to win the virtues. For, however assiduously the beginner practices the mortification in himself of all these actions and passions of his, he can never completely succeed—very far from it—until God shall work it in him passively by means of the purgation of the said night.
Paula Rinehart in her book Strong Women Soft Hearts asks, “Why would God go to the trouble–reaching into the farthest crevices of your soul, disturbing your plans, rattling your cage? Why not just leave you be?” Because in that dark night your heart makes up its mind. “Only when the heart can hear, can we experience being loved and the joy of belonging to the Father. Pain is often the megaphone that awakens.” (p. 60)
Only by releasing my sticky fingers from the steering wheel will I ever be ready for the ride of my life! The question I must ask myself moment by moment is, “Dawn, are you gripping the steering wheel so tightly that the Lord can’t get you to go where you need to go?” If so, you are missing THE ride of your life, the exhilaration of knowing the Father above all else.