If… then I know nothing of Calvary Love

Crucifix by Mariya Pavelko

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast  perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made you to differ? And what have you that you have not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love…

So begins Amy Carmichael’s poem prayer, “If”. Along the way she exposes inner conflicts that reveal to herself, her own lack of integration of what she calls Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Saviour than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love…

If I dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love…

If I cannot in honest happiness take second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love…

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love…

And then she says this:

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to be, unjustly, forgetting if they knew me as I know myself they would….

How would you end the sentence?

It is likely we’d end the sentence with – “if they knew me as I know myself they would love me” – reflecting our propensity to self-referenced love.

Carmichael instead writes this:

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to be, unjustly, forgetting if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love…

Some might be horrified at such self-condemnation, but she is merely aware that Calvary love is not forgetful of our need for it.  Therefore may we be mindful of the log in our eye in order to prevent us from looking for splinters in another person’s eye; may we be mindful to not let bitterness corrupt the beauty and restoration of Calvary love:

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.


Excerpt taken from “Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.”

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About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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2 Responses to If… then I know nothing of Calvary Love

  1. Burke says:

    Thanks for the post Rusty.
    We have such a propensity to see ourselves in a good light while pointing the spotlight on others’ faults. We don’t want to see our shadow, and always afraid that others will see us. Our tendency is to hide or deny it, even from ourselves. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, describes our response to shadow as “hearing but not understanding, seeing, but not perceiving” (Matthew 13:14-15)
    Richard Rohr, in his talk on shadow, says:
    “You do know, don’t you, that the people you are most threatened by are invariably just like you? Jesus showed us how to get out of this dead end prison, by acknowledging, ‘My main problem is always me! Something does need to change, and darn it, it’s me!”‘

    If we truly know Calvary love, it changes everything; how we view others, and how we see ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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