Worship silences the noise of life.
Your call will become clear as your mind is transformed by the reading of Scripture and the internal work of God’s Spirit. The Lord never hides His will from us. In time, as you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you. The difficulty will lie in keeping other concerns from diverting your attention.
I throw myself down in my chamber, and I call in and invite God and his angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his angels, for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door. A memory of yesterday’s pleasures, a fear of tomorrow’s dangers, a straw under my knees, a noise in my ear, a light in my eye, an anything, a nothing, a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayers.
Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present. An old abbot was fond of saying, “The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.” The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.
We always keep God waiting while we admit more importunate suitors.
We must try to keep the mind in tranquility. For just as the eye which constantly shifts its gaze, now turning to the right or to the left, now incessantly peering up or down, cannot see distinctly what lies before it, but the sight must be fixed firmly on the object in view if one would make his vision of it clear; so too man’s mind when distracted by his countless worldly cares cannot focus itself distinctly on the truth.
Lives with many aims are like water trickling through innumerable streams, none of which are wide enough or deep enough to float the merest cockleshell of a boat; but a life with one object is like a mighty river flowing between its banks, bearing to the ocean a multitude of ships, and spreading fertility on either side.
Since God wishes to do all for us, let us place everything in His hands once and for all, leaving them to His infinite wisdom; and trouble no more about anything but what concerns Him. On then, my soul, on with head uplifted above earthly things, always satisfied with God, with everything He does, or makes you do. Take good care not to imprudently entertain a crowd of anxious reflections which, like so many trackless ways, carry our footsteps far and wide until we are hopelessly astray. Let us go through that labyrinth of self-love by leaping over it, instead of traversing its interminable windings.
Chesterton wrote, “There are two ways to get enough; one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” How does this translate into our worship life as Christians? If thoughts of material things command the greater part of our attention and energy, can we really be serving and worshipping the Master as we should? I find that as I ascribe worth and honour to our loving and sovereign God, he allows me to desire less of the distractions, less of the other gods. But the struggle for the throne continues.
Pride calls me to the window, gluttony to the table, wantonness to the bed, laziness to the chimney-corner; ambition commands me to go upstairs, and covetousness to come down. Vices, I see, are as well contrary to themselves as to virtue. Free me, Lord, from this distracted case; fetch me from being sin’s servant to be Thine, whose “service is perfect freedom,” for Thou art but one, and ever the same.