ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: A Job To Be Done

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: A Job To Be Done

From The Spiritual Life

More is required of those who wake up to reality, than the passive adoration of God or intimate communion with God.  Those responses, great as they are, do not cover the purpose of our creation.  The riches and beauty of the spiritual landscape are not disclosed to us in order that we may sit in the sun parlor, be grateful for the excellent hospitality, and contemplate the glorious view.  Some people suppose that the spiritual life mainly consists in doing that.  God provides the spectacle.  We gaze with reverent appreciation from our comfortable seats, and call this proceeding Worship.

No idea of our situation could be more mistaken than this.  Our place is not the auditorium but the stage – or, as the case may be, the field, workshop, study, laboratory – because we ourselves form part of the creative apparatus of God.  He made us in order to use us, and use us in the most profitable way; for his purpose, not ours.  To live a spiritual life means subordinating all other interests to that single fact.  Sometimes our positions seem to be that of tools; taken up when wanted, used in ways which we had not expected for an object on which our opinion is not asked, and then laid down.  Sometimes we are the currency used in some great operation, of which the purpose is not revealed to us.  Sometimes we are servants, left year in, year out to the same monotonous job.  Sometimes we are conscious fellow-workers with the Perfect, striving to bring the Kingdom in.  But whatever our particular place or job may be, it means the austere conditions of the workshop, not the freelance activities of the messy but well-meaning amateur; clocking in at the right time and tending the machine in the right way.  Sometimes, perhaps, carrying on for years with a machine we do not very well understand and do not enjoy; because it needs doing, and no one else is available.  Or accepting the situation quite quietly, when a job we felt that we were managing excellently is taken away.  Taking responsibility if we are called to it, or just bringing the workers their dinner, cleaning and sharpening the tools.  All self-willed choices and obstinacy drained out of what we thought to be our work; so that it becomes more and more God’s work in us.

 

 

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