Monday, March 11, 2013

Short-changing Myself

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. 
          ~ C.S. Lewis

What do I miss when I short-change myself of joy?

No thank you, God, I say, I won't ask for that much– no really. My wants are simple, you see. Just give me a body that functions properly, at least most of the time; give me my simple hobbies and habits; give me relationships that don't take too much heartache or discomfort; let me be comfortable where I'm at– that's all. I won't ask for more. I won't trouble You.

But, Child! He replies, tenderness and laughter encompassed in the two syllables, I want to give you more! You are my beloved and I will be satisfied with nothing less than perfection for you– so I offer you Myself. You will find no more magnificent gift– no fuller joy– no deeper rest– no sweeter intimacy – no more perfect peace– no more encompassing purpose– no more daring adventure– than in Me. 

But don't You see, God, I say, trying to conceal the irritation, I've had a hard week. I don't have time for all that. I'm tired of feeling lonely and purposeless. I'm tired of all these challenges. Can You just make things easier for me? Look– I've drawn up this blueprint– I know what my life ought to be like. It's very simple, actually, and uncomplicated. I can do most of it myself if You'll just hold up Your end– just the very little part I ask. It's nothing difficult.

But Child! He replies, eyes twinkling with merriment and affection, Don't you see? It is all My end! I hold up you! And it is my delight to do so. All I desire is for you to stop blinding yourself and see– because then you will be free–free to enjoy Me. Free to taste the Joy which I Am.  

No really, I say patiently, as if I were the Father and He were the child, trying to explain, there's no need for that. In fact that makes me just a little bit uncomfortable– and I'm sure it would be uncomfortable for You. I couldn't ask that much of You– because secretly I am terrified at the thought, if He is willing to go to that length, then what might He ask... of me?

Dear one, He says, in a voice of utter tenderness, do you not hold as your faith that there was no comfort I considered worth retaining at the cost of you?Do you not confess with your mouth and hear with your ears every week that I went to the utter depths for you? If I went to the Cross for you, then do you think it is anything other than my deepest delight to give you Myself?

This dialogue between my soul and my Savior, how often will it have to be repeated? I cling to my mud pies of effort, accomplishment, and productivity in the slum of Self-Reliance, because I am terrified to lift my eyes and gaze on the wild, infinite waves of the Joy He offers me– a never-ending Joy because He is the Joy, and so the Joy is unchanging, infinite, steadfast, and beautiful.

Taste and see that I am good, He whispers, dear Child, believe that you are free from your life-sucking efforts to find life anywhere but in Me. Only when you stop trying to expect lesser things to fulfill you are you free to truly enjoy the good gifts I give you– only when you drink deeply of My love are you free to really love– only when you live in Me are you free to really live!