I’ve added a new discipline to my devotional life. As I read through the Bible (right now I’m in Numbers, and it’s heavy lifting…especially for an egalitarian Christian woman), I’ve added a chapter a day from some other book. Right now, it’s Contemplative Prayer, by Thomas Merton.
What a read.
Merton plumbs depths of prayer in ways I’ve never considered, even after walking with Christ for almost 40 years. He’s risen to my top ten list of people I want to meet when I get to Heaven, as I can imagine sitting for hours (centuries?) just talking through the beauty and intricacies of the believer’s prayer life and the ever deepening understanding of who and what we are.
“What am I? I am myself a word spoken by God. Can God speak a word that does not have any meaning?” (Merton, p. 68). As I wander through this deeply challenging time of my life, I have asked God for its meaning. Merton provides a map for my wandering:
“Instead of a stoical acceptance of ‘providential’ decrees and events, and other manifestations of ‘law’ in the cosmos, we should let ourselves be brought naked and defenceless into the center of that dread where we stand alone before God in our nothingness, without explanation, without theories, completely dependent upon his providential care, in dire need of the gift of his grace, his mercy and the light of faith” (p. 69).
As the writer of Hebrews reminds me, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, New American Standard Bible). There is a way out–it is through the arms of God. Only in Him do I find the strength and guidance I need.
Trials, even tragic trials, will come in our lives. There is no shame in being knocked down by the bitter winds of this world. But there is a way forward–a way to transcend the grief and confusion–when we remember we do have meaning, we do have purpose. As Merton notes, “…even the capacity to recognize our condition before God is itself a grace” (p. 71).
I am a word spoken by Him, and His grace is sufficient.