“BECAUSE you had a good time spiritually before Christmas and enjoyed devotion, yet you are now having a flat time. But sticking to it in the flat times is of far more value both as service and as discipline than luxuriating in religious emotion. It’s what strengthens the spiritual muscles. Even the best people, even the saints, have always had to bear it., sometimes even for years. It’s a natural condition in the spiritual life. I know it’s perfectly horrid when it happens and I do not mean to be unsympathetic, but you must get enough grip to go on trusting in the dark. All the prayer in the world will not get you into a state in which you will always have nice times. You must make a rule of life and go on with it steadily…
Gentle attempts, gently to wilt whatever suffering God may kindly send us, the grand practice of at once meeting suffering with joy – God alone can help us to succeed in this, the practice of meeting suffering with joy. But what is Christianity, if it not be something like this?”
I keep wanting it to be perpetual Christmas and I am always, always, always surprised when the presents stop. And when I get the presents of a pair of socks or new underwear, that I know to be necessary and useful, I can’t help thinking that the fault lies partly in me – that I did not communicate well enough with the Giver to make Him understand that I really don’t care at all for these kind of gifts, and in fact, they ruin Christmas for me, and thank you, I have enough socks for now.
The Giver, who loves me more than I will ever be close to imagining, doesn’t sway from His intentional giving. He knows what He is doing. He knows this is loving, and not only will my fragrance be better, those around me will benefit as well from these practical and NEEDFUL gifts.
The enemy seems to always be present as well. He is quiet when the gift is obviously a good one…after all, what can he say? But he is quick to speak when the practical gift is opened. “If you had asked Him differently, you could have gotten a better gift”, or “This is because you have been bad this year, and this really is simply a lump of coal”, or “This isn’t even your gift! You are picking this one up by choice and totally missing His call to you in this one,“or “If you had more faith and were a bit more mature, you would rejoice with joy when you opened this pack of socks, because you trusted Him and knew it was good. What is the matter with your faith?
God will not be turned into my personal santa – God forbid I would ask Him to do so. I will receive the socks and even wear them. And by telling you about this unexpected gift, I am sharing its fragrance as well. That is redeeming this gift.
It isn’t Christmas yet. Not f or reals. We can’t “luxuriate in Christian emotion always”. But we can still make most days Christmas Eve, or the eve of the eve of Christmas Eve (right, T?), and can stick to it in the flat times, by anticipating what IS coming. This is trusting in the dark…