from Ascent to Love
Sr. Ruth Burrows
Acquired knowledge is satisfying because it is our own, a possession. Inevitably it gives--albeit unconsciously-- a sense of power, control. We know where we are, what we are about; we have a sense of 'being able to do it'; in other words there is the implicit assumption that we can make our own way to God. It is only a case of going on like this, everything nicely under control, and we shall get more and more spiritual, know more and more about God, wax holy! This is illusion. Once again this cannot be appreciated no matter how much we may know it theoretically. Theoretical knowledge in its turn becomes just another piece of spiritual acumen until God 'touches' us; then our illusion begins painfully to crumble and we find ourselves with nothing. The new knowledge actuated in the depths of our being, uncurling as the tenderest of young plants, is not detected. This is not a possession, it cannot of its nature be appreciated or enjoyed as a personal attribute. Incipient though it be it has effects, and one of these is to take some of the gild off our 'God.' As the 'God' is really ourselves, our ego is wounded in its most vulnerable area. It is one thing to be asked to renounce our ego in dealing with other people and things, we come to appreciate that this is only commonsense; but surely our prayer, our pursuit of God, is unselfishness itself? Are we not trying to renounce ourselves, do good in order to please God? Well, we are about to be tested in that! Are our reactions prompted by the desire to please God or to have a spiritual life, become a spiritual person? In other words is our tenacious egotism operating in what is the most supremely satisfying sphere of all?
Wow! What a breathtaking indictment! And how true for many of us. Sometimes my desire for "secret knowledge" for "understanding the things of God" overwhelms any sense of why I would want to do this. Isn't the point of knowing God and sharing in His life supposed to be to please Him rather than to please myself? Gratifying this desire in one sense "undoes" the good of all the spiritual practices. And it will be ultimately unsatisfying. Our only goal in approaching God in any way is to be pleasing to Him. God is well pleased in those who approach Him in humble prayer and ask of Him the things needed in each day.
How poorly I do to take this finest gift and desire to make it my own for my own purposes. My purpose in approaching God must be His purpose for me. My goal must be His desire, not my own. Just as I delight in Samuel offering me some small card or written note that tells how much he loves and admires me, so God delights in a single Our Father said in complete love and desire to please. Let us take an example from our children and offer God our humblest but most sincere thanksgiving and praise. When I offer Him any thought out of sheer love of Him and desire to please Him, I am far better off than trying to scale mountains for the sake of gratifying my own curiousity and ego.
Our end--to please God in all that we do, to walk simply and to offer God our most truthful, most abiding, most loving, most sincere self. We offer to Him all that we are in the desire to please Him, not to get something from Him, but simply because our delight is in Him and living in harmony with Him. Forget the austerities, forget the forbidding language, forget all the contrivances that we formulate and that only get in the way. God wants us to want to please Him and to be with Him not for self-aggrandizement, but for Him alone.
In short, send your love letter today--delight and glory in pleasing the God who loves you "as the apple of His eye."