We try too much, too long, and too hard to do the work that only the Holy Spirit can do in us—this truth so well put in Lilias Trotter’s little volume, Parables of the Christ-Life:
“How long we are in grasping that we are His workmanship, [just as the wondrous, unique seed vessels of plants are. How slow] in discovering… that it is as exactly impossible by our own striving to develop the Christ-life in our hearts as to form the seed in the pod! We have not to produce out of our… nature a lowliness and a patience and a purity of our own, but simply to let the pure, patient, lowly life of Jesus have its way in us by yieldingness to it and faith in its indwelling might.
“‘All that God wants from man is opportunity.’*
“Surrender—stillness—a ready welcoming of all stripping, all loss, all that brings us low, low into the Lord’s path of humility—a cherishing of every whisper of the Spirit’s voice, every touch of the prompting that comes to quicken the hidden life within: that is the way God’s human seed-vessels ripen, and Christ becomes “magnified” even through the things that seem against us.
“‘Mine but to be still:
Thine the glorious power,
Thine the mighty will.’”*
-I. Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Christ-life
On the other hand, how slow we also are in loosing ourselves, as we so often could, from the thorns and brambles of earth-life that impede the way of His Spirit, that crowd and choke out the Christ-life and promote in us spiritually fruitless, worthless earth-lives! (Luke 8:4-8,11-15)
“Some fell among thorns… Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”
My Sabbath “task,” my Christmas “to-do”:
To still today,
to come aside from the thorny tangles of earth’s fretful issues and frenetic rush,
to “cherish every whisper of the Spirit’s voice,”
to reach toward “every touch of the prompting that comes to quicken the hidden life within.”“How silently, how silently, the blessed gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.”
-Philip Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
*Quoted passages within the text of Parables of the Christ-life. Author(s) unknown.