The rhythm in which God has swung the world
We have to find our way into that rhythm in which God has swung the world – and the moment is always the same. God’s calling – my response. His love – my obedience. His enlightenment – my sorrow over what I see myself to be. His grace and forgiveness, and then the long slow struggle of ascent – his grace, that spark of the soul, the Holy Spirit.
St Paul’s turmoil
The greatest good we can set ourselves, with all the passion that is within us, is to see God and give in to what is. To stop kicking against the pricks, as Paul stopped in so definite a way when his humble broken voice said: ‘What shall I do, Lord?’
You can follow the rhythm through the Epistles: I and II Thessalonians are dominated by the idea of Christ as Judge – Repentance. In I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, the main thought is of Christ as Saviour God. In the last group – Philemon, Ephesians and Colossians – the concept
is of Christ as indwelling – ‘Not I, but Christ dwelleth in me.’
For him as for us it was not an easy rhythm. There was turmoil in his inner life. When he came to Macedonia ‘our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side. Without were fightings, within were fears’ [II Cor. 7.5]. There were loss of friends, bitter disappointments of failures with people, poverty, persecution – and the sharp and growing contrast between his sublime vision of that perfect love he had seen, and its partial and wavering realization in his Churches.
What did happen through it all, and what we in our own small adventure will be called upon to follow, is that Paul’s nature had to go right back into the melting pot to be re-born on higher levels with different values. Thoughts and acts all had to be re-grouped about those centres of love and humility, which are roots and fruits of this Christian rhythm.
There will always be an infinite regret in our own souls over the sorry thing we make of a life so loved as ours; but alongside that, if Jesus Christ is more important we shall be able to say as though we were speaking of the most precious treasure in life – ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.’
From the Notebooks of Florence Allshorn,
Founder of the Julian Community ND