Lately, the Lord has been showing me the ways I have been conceited. My motives, preferences, and fond desires are all hopelessly entangled in a mess of self. Even my tiniest sacrifices, moments of selflessness, are drenched in selfish and prideful thoughts. On my own, I do not, and cannot, love Christ.
In the words of the Puritans,
My best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity...
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed.
Valley of Vision, 136-137.
|"Summer Showers" by Franklin Chang (title his)|
A friend sent me a picture of the "art" he made with a respiratory mask, his medical journal, and an old envelope. I was strangely moved by the little gentleman with a hand in his pocket. I have seen this before, somewhere. I woke up the next morning and saw the story my soul knew well. My Savior once stood under the rain of death that I might live.
"We follow a stripped and crucified Savior," wrote Amy Carmichael to a prospective missionary, who was coming to India to serve her family of orphans. "Those words go very deep. They touch everything — motives, purposes, decisions, everything... Dear, you are coming to a battlefield" (A Chance to Die, 304).
Like the apostle John, the love of Christ compelled and constrained Amy Carmichael. They loved the dust at the foot of the cross. They held their lives loosely, and crucified themselves with Christ. It is difficult to imagine that they once struggled with selfish and prideful thoughts. But they must have, as they were sinners saved by grace.
So, the Lord is giving me strength and courage through their witnesses. I am tracing their footsteps, "the way of the Cross leads to the Cross and not to a bank of flowers." I am finding comfort in confessing that I am not a lover of Christ. But I am his, and I am loved.
Lord crucified, O mark Thy holy Cross
On motive, preference, all fond desires;
On that which self in any form inspires
Set Thou that Sign of loss.
And when the touch of death is here and there
Laid on a thing most precious in our eyes,
Let us not wonder, let us recognise
The answer to this prayer.
Toward Jerusalem, 96.