On the cross Jesus said, "I thirst."
What is Jesus thirsting for from you right now?
This is the question a Sister asked me the other day. I asked Jesus what He wanted from me, what was His thirst for me, and one word came to mind: Surrender. He wants me to surrender. He wants me to stop fighting, to stop clinging to worthless things, to stop chasing after the things of this world, and to just surrender to His love, His mercy, His grace, His will, His freedom.
"We must learn to be free because that is what we are," said Sister Michael.
I thought about the American slaves just recently freed from their owners, from the laws that held them as property. They were free, but they had been slaves for so long that many of them just went back to their former owners and worked for them anyway, for little or no pay, because that is what they knew. They knew the ways of slavery. They did not yet know how to be free.
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
Slavery is a burden. Sin is a burden. When we are ruled by our passions, we are slaves to them, like an addict to a drug, driven by anger, lust, greed, power, selfishness. Only Christ can set us free from the power of sin in our lives, from the overwhelming forces that push us down, make us apathetic, turn us toward addictions and selfishness.
"Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" Galatians 4:8-9
We are all serving someone or something. We were made to worship the true God, but we have all turned away to idols. What do you worship? Relationships, addictions, sex, power, money, pride, attention...yourself? It creeps up on us sometimes, and we don't realize how selfish we have become, how much we have begun to serve ourselves rather than God. My own materialism, greed, and selfishness has taken center stage since being in the poverty stricken area of Kolkata. My desire to hold on to what is "mine" has become repulsive to me...and yet, I cling to "my" things as if I am afraid I will never replace that thing in my life. I'm not talking about "big" things here. I'm talking about a shirt, a pair of pants, a blanket, some food. What am I so afraid of? Deep down, I am afraid because a seed of doubt has been planted that tells me God is not really good and does not have my best interest at heart. If I truly understood how much God is in love with me and wants to give good things to me, I would freely give everything I have because, as He says in His word: "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:1. And "Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:31,33
This was not where my blog post was going tonight, but apparently I had to do a little confession. Maybe it's being around all these darn Catholics...
Lord, free me from the burden of selfishness, greed, lust, and unbelief. Help me to understand the depth of Your love for me, so I will be free from this world and its desires, free to love and serve without hesitation.
And now I leave you with a funny little Kolkata story:
It was my friend Theresa's last night in Kolkata and we had just dropped off one of our friends at her house (no walking alone at night!). We were on our way back to my guesthouse when we ran into a traffic jam so bad we had to stand on the side of the road and just wait because there was no way of getting through the cars and motorbikes. We waited and waited and noticed that everyone was honking at this white car that was holding up traffic. Motorbikes are crowded behind this car, two to four men on each bike, viciously honking their horns. The man in the white car gets out and begins pushing his car from the driver's side door. We watch for a minute as the man struggles to push the car by himself, the dozens of men all around watching and continuing to honk their horns.
"Really, no one is going to help him?" Theresa asked incredulously.
"Well, let's go help him!" I said.
We begin pushing the car and, noticing the car easily moving forward, the driver looks behind him to see the only two white girls on Ripon street grunting, drenched in sweat, pushing his car down the street as the Indian men all around smile with amusement and continue honking their horns. As the car gets rolling, we pick up the pace and begin a little jog as we push. After a few speed bumps, a young Indian man comes to join us, asking me what happened. I tell him I'm not sure. We slow down and the man goes to talk to the driver. We are at a standstill, so Theresa and I take the opportunity to turn around and walk back home, leaving all the entertained men behind on their motorbikes. I'm sure we made quite a scene ;)