Friday, May 08, 2015

Pray to Be Free From the Need for Things to Go Your Way (PrayerLife)

Weed seed, in my backyard
In one of Thomas Merton's journals he writes about life in the monastery of Gethsemane, in Kentucky. Merton struggled with the CEO of the place (the "Abbot"), Dom James. Dom James had his problems, as Merton saw things. Merton knew he had to accept this, and wrote:

"I do not criticize Dom James – his nature is what it is, and he must see things as he does. And he is the Abbot God has willed for me." (Merton, Thomas (2010-10-19). Learning To Love: Exploring Solitude and Freedom, The Journals of Thomas Merton, p. 27.)  

Then he has this insight: "I know I will never have things exactly as I wish they ought to be – and as I would take pride in them." (Ib.)

In that singular sentence we see a free person. As Richard Foster has written, we should pray to be free of the terrible burden of always having to have things go our own way.

Is that really a terrible burden? Wouldn't it be ideal to have everything go our own way? As interesting as these questions are, they are irrelevant because everything in life will not go your own way. Indeed, everything in life should not go your own way, unless you are a God who always knows the best way for the world to go.

The person who needs things to be exactly as they wish them to be will be forever weighed down by the fact of such a non-happening. They will be everlastingly miserable as expectation after expectation remains unmet. But the one who learns how to be in and through whatever comes one's way is the truly free person, living transcendent to life's circumstances. (Also called: living by faith.)

Pray to be free of the need to get things to always go your way.