When I suffered with a serious disease many years ago, I found time on my hands to negotiate a course correction as it were. Contemplating many things, I came upon the “Spiritual Letters” of Francois Fenelon, a French Bishop of the 17th Century. I committed this portion to memory to help me through that period:
Sought or rejected, known or unknown, applauded of opposed, what is it to me? It is Thee, and not myself; it is Thee and not Thy gifts distinct from Thee and Thy love, which I seek.
Many years later, I am reminded of the focus (refocus?) of my life encouraged so long ago by Fenelon as I read a devotional titled, “Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life” (Jane Marie Thibault and Richard L. Morgan). This entry by Thibault was particularly poignant as she encourages us to imagine God responding to our [prayer] letter written to Him:
I have gifted you throughout your life with loving people, beautiful vistas, warm comforts, interesting work, and pleasures both great and small. You have known me through these gifts. Perhaps you have loved the gifts more than you have loved me. I totally understand; my creation is wonderful indeed, and I don’t fault you for this. Now, however, as you draw closer o the end of your life, I would like you to know me intimately, to sense how deeply I love you before we meet face-to-face.
I want to give you the source of all the gifts you have ever received – the gift of myself. I want you to know me as I am, as Love itself. And I don’t want any other gifts to distract you or entice you away from, to come between us. I am asking you to interpret the natural diminishment’s that come with age as a way to shed all the barriers to my love for you. Use this time to prepare yourself to receive the gift of all gifts – joy with me for all eternity. Know that I am with you and will help you in the midst of all your losses and pain, and I will be with you always. Come to me, and be with me.
I am struck by how regularly God nudges me into a course correction, and I feel Him asking me as Thibault suggests:
I am asking you to interpret the natural diminishment’s that come with age as a way to shed all the barriers to my love for you. Use this time to prepare yourself to receive the gift of all gifts – joy with me for all eternity.
May we be found using our time for preparation for the end for which we live – to be with the Gift-Giver God in Christ.