Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Saint of Calcutta

Imagine for 30 years God quits speaking to you. Prior to these empty thirty years God has spoken clearly about your call and purpose in life, but now loneliness. Imagine doing a job for your entire life and never asking for recognition. Imagine that you even ask that every letter you have written be destroyed. Imagine that the world knows you and recognizes your work but you wish not to be acknowledged.

I must admit, although most of you probably have figured this out, but I have an addiction. It may be hard for you to understand that a youth pastor is addicted to anything, but I am. My addiction may need severe intervention to overcome, I know that I cannot do it alone, it will take help from my friends, family and medical doctors.

I just started reading a book on the life of Mother Teresa (Mother Teresa: Come be my light: the private writings of the “Saint of Calcutta”). I have only read the introduction but I am already amazed at this wonderful woman’s life. Here is a woman that knew her call from God was to serve the poorest of the poor. Here was a woman that heard and knew God’s voice. But in 1961 she no longer heard Him.

With the grasp of her spiritual directors, she progressively came to grasp that her painful inner experience was an essential part of living out her mission. It was a sharing in the Passion of Christ on the Cross—with a particular thirst of Jesus as the mystery of His longing for the love and salvation of every human person. Eventually she recognized her mysterious sufferings as an imprint of Christ’s Passion on her soul. She was living the mystery of Calvary—the Calvary of Jesus and the Calvary of the poor.

I need intervention. Unlike Mother Teresa, I live for the recognition and the fame and the glory. In my life I need to be surrounded by people and need to feel that people love me. It is my addiction. I have overcome so many other addictions, but this one lingers. It may sound like nothing but consider the difference: Mother Teresa lived for God, Rick Ellis lives for self. Who would you like to be?

Mother Teresa wrote many letters and she did not want them to be used for her glory. Her life was lived out for God, not for herself. The letters and ultimately the books that would follow would focus on her and not the glory that was deserved of God. In one of her letters she expressed that the writers focus on the poor.

I am perfectly happy and grateful to God for what He gives—I [would] rather be and remain poor with Jesus and His poor.—I prefer to beg and struggle with little—let him write about “the work” and our poor and struggling people.—help me to pay for the schooling of our poor children and give the clever ones a chance in life.

I am only His instrument—why so much about me—when the work is all His. I hold no claim to it. It was given to me…

I have a long way to go to overcome my addiction. I pray that in the days, months and years to come I would deny more of myself.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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