Chapter 6: Further directions how to attain Self
(text below) (click for full book)
This chapter has three main points, and these three points are exceedingly beautiful… and important!
Point 1: Everything is assisted by the GRACE of God.
Point 2: God’s STRENGTH is matchless and supreme.
Point 3: VICTORY is mine, as long as I don’t give up the fight.
GRACE – STRENGTH – VICTORY
The reflection on grace is fairly simple. Imagine that you have done something well. Let’s say you helped someone pick up some things that fell on the ground. You can award yourself a point for doing a good deed. That is true on the level of free-will and your response to the situation. But that would be only seeing the tip of the iceberg. That you decided to help actually was prompted to you by God’s grace. That you had it in your mind to help was prompted by God’s grace. That you have strength to walk is by God’s sustaining grace. That you can see is by God’s creative and sustaining grace. That your lungs are breathing and your heart is beating is by God’s creative and sustaining grace. That you are alive and not dead is by God’s grace. That you exist in the first place, at all, is by God’s gracious will. So both proximately (near to the scene) and remotely (in the distance), grace is at work in you, by God’s choice and not yours. And so it is with anything we come to face. If what we see is so narrow that we think it comes from us solely, we would be considered legally blind. God’s grace is at work!
The one sentence on the strength of God is really a breath of fresh air and a comfort to those in battle. If God is for us, who can be against us!!! He is strong; He is mighty; He is victor; He is supreme; The heavens are His throne and the earth is His footstool. He is our big, strong Father! And we are His children.
The third point is also hard, like the first point, for us to fully understand. In a similar blindness, we narrow our vision in the midst of failure and think that all is lost. All is not lost. I fell. Get up. Continue. If I get up and try again, even if I fall a million times, I win. He who perseveres to the end will be saved! God, in His mercy, loves to pardon us if we would humble ourselves after a fall and go to Him. A devout soul once received in prayer the comforting words of Jesus say to her something like: If you would fall, I love to pardon you. If you would fall, a million million times, I will love to pardon you. And my Blood will wash your last sin just as fully as your first sin.So we do not give up!
Chapter 6 text:
Since our whole power to subdue our enemies arises principally from self-distrust and trust in God, I will give you some further directions to enable you, by the Divine Assistance, to acquire it. Know, then, for a certain truth, that neither all gifts, natural or acquired, nor all graces given gratis, nor the knowledge of all Scripture, nor long habitual exercise in the service of God, will enable us to do His will, unless in every good and acceptable work to be performed, in every temptation to be overcome, in every peril to be avoided, in every Cross to be borne in conformity to His will, our heart be sustained and up-borne by an especial aid from Him, and His hand be outstretched to help us. We must, then, bear this in mind all our life long, every day, every hour, every moment, that we may never indulge so much as a thought of self-confidence.
And as to confidence in God, know that it is as easy to Him to conquer many enemies as few; the old and experienced as the weak and young.
Therefore we will suppose a soul to be heavy-laden with sins, to have every possible fault and every imaginable defect, and to have tried, by every possible means and every kind of Spiritual Exercise, to forsake sin and to practice holiness. We will suppose this soul to have done all this, and yet to have failed in making the smallest advance in holiness, nay, on the contrary, to have been borne the more strongly towards evil.
For all this she must not lose her trust in God, nor give over her spiritual conflict and lay down her arms, but still fight on resolutely, knowing that none is vanquished in this spiritual combat but he who ceases to struggle and loses confidence in God, whose succor never fails His soldiers, though He sometimes permits them to be wounded. Fight on, then, valiantly; for on this depends the whole issue of the strife; for there is a ready and effectual remedy for the wounds of all combatants who look confidently to God and to His aid for help; and when they least expect it they shall see their enemies dead at their feet.
Chapter 7: Of Spiritual Exercises, and first of the Exercise of the Understanding, which must be kept guarded against ignorance and curiosity