Saturday, January 14, 2012

Your Life is not Your Own: Mother Teresa Gave All

Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.

“You are not your own.”  This is one of life’s greatest and most difficult lessons.  It’s also at the core of our struggle with Pride – our original sin. 

Mother Teresa, possibly the greatest Saint of our time, can help us realize the significance of this.

A couple of years ago, Mother Theresa’s journals were released.  Within these writings are revealed a soul so in love with God that no matter what difficulty, no matter what darkness, she never held anything back from Him. 

In order to appreciate her generosity to God it’s important that we have some understanding of the darkness and difficulty that she endured.  Few of us will ever know this level, intensity, and length of darkness that she experienced. 

“Now Father – since 49 or 50 this terrible sense of loss – this untold darkness – this loneliness this continual longing for God – which gives me that pain deep down in my heart – Darkness is such that I really do not see – neither with my mind nor with my reason… when the pain of longing is so great – I just long and long for God… Sometimes I just hear my own heart cry out – “My God” and nothing else comes – the torture and pain I can’t explain.”

The temptation that we all face is that we can “make” ourselves happy, that we can “be” God and create our own destiny.  What we forget is that we are not our own.  It is God who moves and breathes and lives in us.  We could do nothing without Him and yet we try to take the control, to live our lives, to do what we want. 

Mother Teresa realized the foolishness of this.  She was able to see through the deception and live her life as if it was not her own.  Her life given to God not only made her a Saint, but helped others to believe in God and brought the Light of God to those who were most in darkness.  The Poorest of the Poor. 

Here is a litany of her trust in God.  Over and over again, laced throughout her journal, Mother Teresa admits that her life was not her own:

“I do not want money – my trust in God is blind – I know He will never let me down.”

“The Call” was a delicate gift to me- unworthy – I do not know why He picked me up  - I suppose like the people we pick up – because they are most unwanted.  From the first day to this day – this my new vocation has been one prolonged “Yes” to God – without even a look at the cost.  – My conviction that “the work is His” – is more than the reality.  I have never doubted… I know for certain He asked – “Will you do this for Me?”  Everything was his – I had only to surrender myself to His plan – to His will – Today His work has grown because it is He not I that do it through me.

“Put your hand in His [Jesus’] hand, and walk alone with Him.  Walk ahead, because if you look back you will go back.”

“Do not think that my spiritual life is strewn with roses – that is the flower which I hardly ever find on my way.  Quite the contrary, I have more often as my companion “darkness.”  And when the night becomes very thick – and it seems to me as if I will end up in hell – then I simply offer myself to Jesus.

“In the years following her final profession, Mother Teresa’s passionate love for Jesus continued to prompt her to seek new and hidden ways of expressing her love the most striking of these was an exceptional private vow she made in April 1942: “I made a vow to God, binding under [pain of] mortal sin, to give to God anything that He may ask, ‘Not to refuse Him anything.’”

“To give ourselves fully to God is a means of receiving God Himself.  I for God and God for me.  I live for God and give up my own self, and in this way induce God to live for me.  Therefore to possess God we must allow Him to possess our souls.”

“We can refuse Christ just as we refuse others:  I will not give you my hands to work with, my eyes to see with, my feet to walk with, my mind to study with, my heart to love with.  You knock at the door but I will not open.  I will not give You the key to my heart.”

“Now, I am His, only His – I have given Him everything – I have not been seeking self for sometime now… God has done everything.  He simply took everything. -  Now I am His.”

“The life I want to live with my sisters, I know, will be a difficult one… But nothing is difficult to one who loves.  Who can outdo God in His generosity – if we poor human beings give Him everything and surrender our whole being to His service - ? No – He is sure to stand by us, and with us, as everything in us will be His.”

“In Him and with Him I can do all that He wants me to do.”

Time and time again she gave her life to God.  During one of her retreats she journals:

“My heart and soul and body belong only to God – and to this Father I have made the resolution in this retreat –
To be at His disposal.
Let Him do with me whatever He wants as He wants for as long as He wants.  If my darkness is light to some soul – even if it be nothing to nobody – I am perfectly happy  - to be God’s flower of the field.”

"[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand."

Over and over again Mother Teresa gave herself to God.  She realized in a very deep and profound way that the life she lived was not her own, it had been purchased at a price.  She in turn gave her life back to God. 

How willing are you to give your life to God? 

Do you realize that you have been purchased at a price? 

What are you holding back right now that would allow God to work more fully in your life and in our world? 

When we realize how much God has given to us, that He has given us His life in Jesus, there is nothing we would want more to give ours back. 

Remember that “You are not your own.”  Give your life to God, give it all, no matter what difficulty, what fear, what darkness, and He will give you back more than you could ever imagine.

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