Mother Teresa: Abandon to Jesus


(A repost from December 2009)

A while back, I read the Come Be My Light, the story of Mother Teresa’s life and spiritual journey. Many know that she spent most of the last decades of her life with little or no conscious sense of God’s presence, though remained a woman of deep and faithful prayer. Here are a couple of insights that helped me:

“‘When I see someone sad,’ she would say, ‘I always think, she is refusing something to Jesus.’’ It was in giving Jesus whatever He asked that she found her deepest and lasting joy; in giving Him joy she found her own joy.” (Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light. New York: Doubleday, 2007, p. 33.)

“She would again insist: ‘Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love…. The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.’” (p. 34.)

What little things is Jesus inviting you to do? Are you willing to do them with great love, rather than looking around for the dramatic thing you can do for Him?

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A Good Word: Spiritual Sunrise After a Dark Night


“Teresa of Avila and her great companion, John of the Cross, have both written of a stage on the [journey] known as the dark night of the soul, where all the light of warmth and joy in their spiritual lives seemed quenched, and where in their desolation they seemed destined to go on wearily plodding through the darkness, forsaken by every comfort and consolation, and despairing of ever finding light again. To those who flung themselves on God and went on, however, they give ardent testimony that this state passed away and a new sense of their utter reliance on Him and His bounty emerged. Now they were tested. Now they knew at first hand that nothing, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39). Until this has taken place the estate of rapture is still young and [immature] and in a way is not yet theirs. Only as they work through it, incorporate it, lose it, and by faithfulness regain it again do the deeper stages of contemplation come to them.” (Steere, Douglas. Work & Contemplation. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, p. 133-34).

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Looking Back: The Desert Journey of Disillusionment


Better late than never, but here’s a link back to one of my earliest blog posts. I quoted from a Weavings article on the theme of “Midlife Darkness.” I was struck then and now by this line: “Disillusionment is a significant marker between illusion and illumination.”

Click to read “The Desert Journey of Disillusionment”

A Good Word: Mother Teresa’s Abandon to Jesus


A while back, I read the Come Be My Light, the story of Mother Teresa’s life and spiritual journey. Many know that she spent most of the last decades of her life with little or no conscious sense of God’s presence, though remained a woman of deep and faithful prayer. Here are a couple of insights that helped me:

“‘When I see someone sad,’ she would say, ‘I always think, she is refusing something to Jesus.’’ It was in giving Jesus whatever He asked that she found her deepest and lasting joy; in giving Him joy she found her own joy.” (Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light. New York: Doubleday, 2007, p. 33.)

“She would again insist: ‘Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love…. The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.’” (p. 34.)

What little things is Jesus inviting you to do? Are you willing to do them with great love, rather than looking around for the dramatic thing you can do for Him?

Buy a copy of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light on Amazon.com

A Good Word: Mother Teresa and the Soul’s Dark Night


IMG_8949A while back, I read Come Be My Light, a collection of materials from the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Many have talked about her extended lack of God’s felt presence for most of her years of ministry among the poorest of the poor. Some have thought she was being hypocritical in proclaiming good news that she wasn’t feeling herself. What a mistaken perspective. Listen to this explanation of her experience by the writer of this collection:

“With regard to the feeling of loneliness, of abandonment, of not being wanted, of darkness of the soul, it is a state well known by spiritual writers and directors of conscience. This is willed by God in order to attach us to Him alone, an antidote to our external activities, and also, like any temptation, a way of keeping us humble in the midst of applauses, publicity, praises, appreciation, etc. and success. To feel that we are nothing, that we can do nothing is the realisation of a fact. We know it, we say it, some feel it.” (Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light. New York: Doubleday, 2007, p. 167.)

Have you found yourself in seasons when you seek God but don’t sense, or feel, or have confidence that He is really present? You would not be alone. How might you see this place in your journey not so much as a loss of faith, but as a refining of your faith?

Trusting in the Dark What We Saw in the Light


img_26101Can you think of moments or seasons when God’s purposes for you seemed quite unmistakable? And have you been walking with Him long enough to encounter seasons when your confidence is tested through long seasons of lesser certainty? I know at least I have. I read the following word from Jean Blomquist in an edition of Weavings and found it helpful.

“Most of the time, my path is circuitous, and the movement of the Spirit is subtle and difficult to discern. Occasionally I experience epiphanies, or moments of truth, that come with startling clarity, only to be followed by years of discovering and working through their implications as well as gathering up the courage to act faithfully on them.” (Blomquist, Jean M.. “Embracing Epiphany: Growing in the Light of Desire and Satisfaction.” Weavings. January/February 2004, p. 36.)

I have had my own enlightening encounters with God. They have shaped and moved me profoundly. But they are not constant. In fact, my experience has been that they are more occasional with long seasons of “trusting in the dark” as I work out those encounters in the realities of my life and ministry. I am not invited to collect epiphanies like I would collect coins. I am invited to encounter God and then respond to Him fully.

I’d love to hear anything from your journey along these lines…

A Good Word: Functional Atheism in Leadership Meeting


Below, Gerald May talks about the all-too-common tendency, even as Christians, to act in such a way as though God’s presence, God’s activity or God’s intervention were a non-factor:

“At worst, we give lip service to God’s presence, but then feel and act as if we were completely on our own. I think of church committee meetings, pastoral counseling; sessions, or even spiritual direction meetings I have attended. They often begin with a sincere prayer, “God, be with us (as if God might be in attendance at another meeting) and guide our decisions and our actions.” Then at the end comes, “Amen,” and the door crashes shut on God-attentiveness. Now we have said our prayers and it is time to get down to business. The modern educator Parker Palmer calls this “functional atheism. . . the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with me .” (Gerald G. May, M.D. Dark Night of the Soul. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004, p. 44.)

In what ways to you identify with May’s observation? How do you disagree? Can you think of gatherings or circumstances in which you ended up acting in a practically “God-inattentive” manner? How do you want to response to God from this place of humble recognition?

Buy May’s The Dark Night of the Soul from Amazon.com