Tuesday, September 16, 2008


(You are invited to read over my shoulder)

My dear friend,

"You have need of patience so that after you have done the will of God you may stand firm. Having done all, stand." (Ephesians 6:13, 14)

The road ahead of you may still be long and you feel not only weary but possibly exhausted from your health challenge. We can expect a normal let down after any trauma like you have been through. A dip in your physical and emotional stamina after your surgery is certainly normal with all the meds and chemicals with which your body has been bombarded. Of course all that affects the level of your spirituality. Please don’t beat yourself up about that, or feel guilty that you may not be on top of it and “triumphantly coping” with all that your life package holds right now.

Yes, discouragement does come from the devil, but simply flying low is not a sin. In fact, it may be part of God's maturing and purifying purpose. Flying high all the time is not an emotional level that we can maintain. God doesn’t expect us to live in a bubbly state all the time. (As an evangelical, I tended to think so, but it is not reality.)

When you are flying low, it is an opportunity for your praying friends to come underneath, to hold you up, to keep you flying, keep you from crash landing. We plead graces and strength on your behalf from Father God, from Jesus, from our holy Mother, from the Holy Spirit, and from all the “cloud of witnesses” saints and loved ones in heaven.

I still have so much to learn about Catholic spirituality as I seek to understand some of the deeper dimensions. I've recently discovered the classic book by Father Thomas H. Green "When [not IF] the Well Runs Dry" –his attempt as a spiritual director to interpret in a user-friendly way the teachings of St Theresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and a few others of their ilk, including The Cloud of the Unknowing. I’m trying to grasp the idea that the lack of consolations and an emotional high is “good” and should be expected! That the dark night of the soul is “good” and a sign of God's favor! That dryness, aridity, and lack of feeling is “good” and to be cherished! Apparently down is really up, and up is really down. I’ve undergone considerable “renewal of my mind” in the joy of becoming Catholic—at least if I want to learn to navigate in deeper waters.

When we are flying low and "poor in spirit" God seems to be drawing us on to deeper growth and maturity. You may be going through some “poor in spirit” time at present, right? I sure don't have it all figured out yet, but I think I am on the path to appreciate just a little of how God treats His children whom He loves. That certainly includes you, my friend! That seems to mean that God lovingly withdraws our consolations and permits adversity, pain, and suffering to draw all of us toward detachment, from clinging to even the good temporal things and relationships of life. That’s not fun and games, but I guess that is the way of the Cross that we share with Christ. Perhaps all of this is happening deep within your spirit while the rest of life seems to go on at its normal fast pace around you as before—everyone is on a merry-go-round that you seem to be watching from the park bench without joining in because you are simply too weary.

As you fly low, you are being drawn closer to Jesus' bosom. Look at it this way—you are experiencing a most highly favored status with Him as His arms are embracing you. Accept His tender love, my friend. God is still in control and He has a good plan going for you. Give Him time. You are secure in His Plan A. Don’t despair—you are not in any Plan B because of what you have been going through.

Isn’t it a comfort that in Romans 8 we are assured that when we don't know how to pray as we ought (like I don’t really know how to pray for you) that the Holy Spirit takes over? He forwards our prayers directly to the Father with groanings that cannot be heard and presents them to God through the intercession of Jesus. The result? The will of God is put into gear for you and my feeble prayers are answered perfectly. Angels are dispatched at God's bidding to carry out His will in your life. Keep an eye out for those ministering angels—invisible or visible. They may surprise you.

My friend, I am sure you have surrendered your will to be united with God's will as your personal “Fiat.” So I pray that you will "float" on God's River of Life (as Fr. Green describes it) resting and trusting, and not thrashing about as you would be were you swimming in your own will and strength.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will be the wings beneath you to bear you up when you are flying low. May God keep you keeping on when your journey seems too long, too hard to bear, and the way too rough and narrow and crooked. God specializes in making a way when there is no way. I pray He will give you strength to endure and to embrace your present cross with JOY. My friend, you are privileged to participate with Jesus in His suffering according to the mystery of Colossians 1:24—which I never understood as an evangelical—and which I still don’t fully understand, but I accept.

Your friend in Christ,



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