Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Piper's Pen and Prose: Stand in Heaven and Look Back at Earth

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. Jude 24
To stand in heaven and look back on earth, and weigh them together in the balance, must transport the soul and make it cry out, is this the place that cost so dear as the blood of God? No wonder, O blessed price, and thrice-blessed love! Is this the result of believing? Is this the outcome of the Spirit’s work? Have the gales of grace blown me into such a harbor? Is it here that Christ has enticed my soul? O blessed way and end! Now I see the gospel indeed as good tidings. Has my mourning, fasting, sad humbling, groaning and complaining come to this? Have my afflictions and fears of death come to this? Have Satan’s temptations and the world’s scorn come to this? O vile nature that resisted such a blessing! Was duty wearisome? Was the world too good to lose? Did I resist leaving all, denying all, and suffering anything for this? Was I loath to die and to come to this? O false heart that almost betrayed me to eternal flames and lost me this glory! O base flesh that desired to be pleased! O soul, are you not ashamed that you ever doubted the love that brought you here? Are you not ashamed of your hard thoughts of God and his providences, repining the ways that have led to such an end? Are you not sufficiently convinced that the ways you called hard and the cup you called bitter were necessary? The Lord had a sweeter purpose and meant better than you would believe. Your Redeemer was saving you as much when he crossed your desires as when he granted them, and he was saving you when he broke your heart as much as when he bound it up. No thanks to you, unworthy self, for this received crown, but to Jehovah and the Lamb be glory forever! 

Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, pp. 44-46
Quoted from: Voices From The Past Devotional October 30, p. 304

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Pilgrim's Musings: Contemplative Thomas Merton

The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but it one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is “answered,” it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God. Thomas Merton The Climate of Monastic Prayer

High up in the summer sky I watch the silent flight of a vulture, and the day goes by in prayer. This solitude confirms my call to solitude. The more I am in it, the more I love it. One day it will possess me entirely and no man will ever see me again. Thomas Merton A Search for Solitude

Let me withdraw all my love from scattered, vain things—the desire to be read and praised as a writer, to be a successful teacher praised by my students, or to live at ease in some beautiful place—and let me place everything in Thee, where it will take root and live, instead of being spent in barrenness. Thomas Merton A Search for Solitude

My God, I pray better to you by breathing. I pray better to You by walking than by talking. Thomas Merton

O God, teach me to be satisfied with my own helplessness in the spiritual life. Teach me to be content with your grace that comes to me in darkness and that works things I cannot see. Teach me to be happy that I can depend on You. To depend on You should be enough for an eternity of joy. To depend on You by itself ought to be infinitely greater than any joy which my own intellectual appetite could desire.

God is in this room. He is my heart. So much so that it is difficult to read or write. Nevertheless, I’ll get busy on the Book of Isaias which is Your Word, O my God. May Your fire grow in me and may I find You in Your beautiful fire.

In solitude I have at last discovered that You desire the love of my heart, O my God, the love of my heart as it is—the love of my human heart. I have found and have known by Your great mercy that the love of a heart that is abandoned and broken and poor is most pleasing to You and attracts the gaze of Your pity. It is Your desire and Your consolation, O my Lord, to he very close to those who love You and call upon You as their Father. You have perhaps no greater consolation—if I may so speak—than to console Your afflicted children and those who come to You poor and empty handed, with nothing by their humanness, their limitations and their great trust in Your mercy. Thomas Merton A Search for Solitude
Almighty and merciful God, Father of all, Creator and Ruler of the Universe, Lord of History Whose designs are inscrutable, Whose glory is without blemish, Whose compassion for our errors is inexhaustible,in your will is our peace. Mercifully hear this prayer which rises to You from the tumult and desperation of a world in which You are forgotten, in which Your name is not invoked, Your laws are derided, Your presence is ignored.Because we do not know You, we have no peace. Help us to be the masters of the weapons that threaten to master us. Help us to use our science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction. Show us how to use nuclear power to bless our children’s children and not to blight them.Resolve our inner contradictions that now grow beyond belief and beyond bearing. They are at once a torment and a blessing: for if you had not left us the light of conscience, we would not have to endure them. Teach us to be long-suffering in anguish and insecurity. Teach us to wait and trust. Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace. (From a prayer read in the United States House of Representatives, Wednesday of Holy Week, April 12, 1962)

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men--you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.
Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

Piper's Pen and Prose:The Supper of the Lamb... In Loving Memory

I wish you well. May your table be graced with lovely women and good men. May you drink well enough to drown the envy of youth in the satisfactions of maturity. May your men wear their weight with pride, secure in the knowledge that they have at last become considerable. May they rejoice that they will never again be taken for callow, black-haired boys. And your women? Ah! Women are like cheese strudels. When first baked, they are crisp and fresh on the outside, but the filling is unsettled and indigestible; in age, the crust may not be so lovely, but the filling comes at last into its won. May you relish them indeed. May we all sit long enough for reserved to give way to ribaldry and for gallantry to grow upon us. May there be singing at our table before the night is done, and old, broad jokes to fling at the stars and tell them we are men.

We are great, my friend; we shall not be saved for trampling that greatness under foot. Ecce tu pulcher es, dilecte mi, et decorus. Lectulus noster floridus. Tigna domorum nostrarum cedrina, laquearia nostra cypressina. Ecce iste venit, saliens in montibus, transilens colles. [Behold, you are beautiful, my love, and fair. Our bed is blooming. The beams of our house are cedar,  the ceiling is cypress. Behold, he is coming, leaping over the mountains, jumping across the hills. (From the Song of Solomon)

Come then; leap upon these mountains, skip upon these hills and heights of earth. The road to Heaven does not run from the world, but throughit. The longest Session of all is no discontinuation of these sessions here, but a lifting of them all by priestly love. It is a place for men, not ghosts — for the risen gorgeousness of the New Earth and for the glorious earthiness of the True Jerusalem.

Eat well then. Between our love and His Priesthood, He makes all things new, Our Last Home will be home indeed.