Biography of a Soul…notes to a seeker.
Like St. Teresa of Avila, whose Abbess instructed her to write her Autobiography of a Soul, creating a map to follow toward the heart of God, I offer a Biography of a Soul, notes to encourage and equip your heart to seek God’s heart.
Like Screwtape to Wormwood, I make practical suggestions about how to continue toward God’s good will. Read on, won’t you?
Mary Cassatt, The Two Sisters, Public Domain
My Dear Seeker,
Jesus came to bring good news to the poor. The best news the poor could receive is that the resources they are lacking are now provided. The poor have no money to purchase what they need; they have no power to influence the system; they are faceless, invisible, abused, and exploited. The poor need provision, recognition, and protection. Jesus is our provision. Jesus is our power. Jesus is our protection. That is good news. In Jesus’ economy, being poor comes with privileges.
In order to receive the good news of Jesus, we must confess our poverty. This admission is a very humbling experience. It means admitting to ourselves and to others that we can’t take care of ourselves, we need help. It means we must rely on another to supply what, in our mind, we think we should be able to supply for ourselves. Sometimes it means admitting that we have particular needs or desires that we think (or wish) we didn’t. Admitting our poverty requires our ego to die. We can’t pretend that we are wealthy or powerful or that we have it all together. In this dying, we receive the gift of poverty.
To us who are the privileged poor, Jesus says, “do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear.” Why? “Because your heavenly Father knows what you need and will supply your every need out of his abundant riches.” (Luke 12) These promises are sweet, pretty, and very poetic. They bring great comfort and are easy to believe when I am not in touch with my poverty. But when I am out of resources and in real need, I find myself wondering if they are practically and literally true. My soul cries, “I don’t see how you can provide, the need is too great.” Doubt pushes out faith and the vacancy in my soul is filled with fear.
Fear, the great thief, whispers,
- “Will you have enough? Maybe you should withhold, God will understand.”
- “Don’t be too generous, remember you have lots of bills to pay.”
- “Ignore the pleas of that homeless man on the street, he’d just use the money for drugs.”
- “You need to put that extra money aside for the future instead of taking the widow out for a nice dinner, her husband probably left her plenty of money. Who’s going to take care of you in your old age?”
- “Why don’t miracle provisions happen for you, as they do for him? He must be more faithful than you. No wonder God doesn’t provide for you, you’re not obedient, you don’t deserve his kindness.”
On and on, fear wages its campaign of dread and worry.
In this cycle of fear and anxiety, be glad that Jesus knows our process intimately and interrupts fear’s tirade. Immediately after telling his followers not to worry, he adds these tender and gentle words, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He knows that in the face of potential lack, our natural tendency will be fear. Jesus knows that we will forget his promises of provision and will think it is up to us to strategize our solvency. And this forgetting keeps us living in fear. We need to live in the place of trust, in the arms of the good shepherd, Jesus. Picture yourself, a little lamb, being carried in the strong and gentle arms of the one who loves you and gave his very life for the privilege of holding you close. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
With you on the journey,