Sunday, July 16, 2006

Perfect Pliability to the Designs of Grace

More from Talking With God, by Francois Fenelon:

(a classic I'm working my way through and have quoted from before--here, here and here)

The best rule we can ever adopt is to receive with the same submission everything that God sends us, both within and from without.

I understand accepting what God sends from without...but within? Accept my own weaknesses and failings?

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Cor 4:7)

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10)

There are many circumstances which must be met with courage, and things pleasant that must not be allowed to capture our affections. We resist the temptations of the disagreeable by accepting them at once, and the temptations of the pleasant by refusing to admit them into our hearts.

Pleasant gifts…must be received because God sends them, rather than because they are agreeable to our own feelings. ….We must accept them, but not hold on to them, so that when God sees fit to withdraw them, we may be neither dejected nor discouraged.

The root of presumption lies in our attachment to these passing and material gifts. We imagine we have no regard to anything but the gift of God, while we are really looking to self, taking as our own possession his mercy and mistaking it for himself.

And we imagine, that when You don’t come through with the temporary gifts, that You’ve withdrawn Yourself! Forgive us, Lord.

We must count less on sensible delights and the measures of wisdom which we devise for our own perfection. We must count more upon simplicity, lowliness, renunciation of our own efforts, and our perfect pliability to all the designs of grace. Everything else tends to focus on our virtues and thus inspires a secret reliance on our own resources.

Let us pray God that he will root out of our hearts everything of our planting, and set there, with his own hands, the Tree of Life, bearing all manner of fruits.

Lord, just as I tend my garden, I pray your help in tending my soul, rooting out everything that is not of your planting. Instead, plant there the life of Christ in me, the true Vine, without whom I can bear no fruit. May I always be a supple branch, "perfectly pliable to all the designs of your grace."

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.

They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green... (Ps 92:12-14)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I so needed to read this. Thank you!