I, and many Christians I know, struggle to find concrete forms of godliness that balance who God is with our response to who He is. In my context, we tend to overlook who God is and focus instead on doable rules that end in self-righteous Pharisee-ism. Even those who love theology tend to make the love of theology the end of godliness.
I often wonder if we are missing the blessing of godliness in the present moment. Living from event to event, program to program, entertainment to entertainment, stimulation to stimulation without ever giving a second thought to the present grace of God. We are much better at talking about grace in the past or even in the future, but few of us live in present grace. I wonder if our pressing for holiness often misses that amiable mark by our absence in the present.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade in The Sacrament of the Present Moment writes:
God’s order, his pleasure, his will, his action, and grace; all these are one and the same. The purpose on earth of this divine power is perfection. It is formed, grows, and is accomplished secretly in souls without their knowledge. Theology is full of theories and arguments expounding the miracles it works in each soul. We may be able to understand all these speculations, cogently discuss, write, teach, and instruct souls through them. But with only this in mind in relation to those in whom that divine purpose exists, I suggest we are like sick doctors trying to cure patients in perfect health.
God’s order and his divine will, humbly obeyed by the faithful, accomplishes this divine purpose in them without their knowledge in the same way as medicine obediently swallowed cures invalids who neither know nor care how. Just as it is fire and not the philosophy or science of that element and its effects that heats, so it is God’s order and his will which sanctify and not curious speculations about its origin or purpose.
To quench thirst it is necessary to drink. Reading books about it only makes it worse. Thus, when we long for sanctity, speculation only drives it further from our grasp. We must humbly accept all that God’s order requires us to do and suffer. What he ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us.
I think I’ll be looking more at Caussade’s thoughts in the days to come.