He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:29-31
“Schoolmen have often asked how it is possible for the soul to know God. It is not from severity that God demands much from men in order to obtain the knowledge of Himself: it is of His kindness that He wills the soul by effort to grow capacious of receiving much, and that He may give much. Let no man think that to attain this knowledge is too difficult, although it may sound so, and indeed the commencement of it, and the renouncement of all things is difficult. But when one attains to it, no life is easier nor more pleasant nor more lovable, since God is always endeavouring to dwell with man, and teach him in order to bring him to Himself. No man desires anything so eagerly as God desires to bring men to the knowledge of Himself. God is always ready, but we are very unready. God is near us, but we are far from Him. God is within, and we are without. God is friendly; we are estranged. The prophet says, “God leadeth the righteous by a narrow path into a broad and wide place, that is into the true freedom of those who have become one spirit with God.” May God help us all to follow Him that He may bring us to Himself. Amen.”
Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) in “The Nearness of the Kingdom” in Meister Eckhart’s Sermons, Trans. Claud Field (London: H. R. Allenson, 1909) 11-12.
Sit with two ideas as we think about the intersection of kindness and generosity.
Firstly, consider this thought. “It is of His kindness that [God] wills the soul by effort to grow capacious of receiving much, and that He may give much.” Anyone who desires to be generous must first learn to grow capacious of receiving because everything good and perfect comes from God.
Are you putting yourself in a position to receive from God? Is there noise or are there distractions in your life? We must learn from God how to grow our capacity to receive. The season the church sets aside to grow in this area is known as Lent.
As we approach Lent, what will you fast from to increase your receiving capacity? Once you make that decision, decide what you will give to, so that that self-indulgence will not swallow your surplus time, energy, and/or resources.
Secondly, consider this saying my wife, Jenni, likes to say during Lent while fasting. “I am feasting on Jesus. I am feasting on Jesus.” She says that because we need to train ourselves to forgo that which does not satisfy in order to partake of the only thing that does.
Eckhart says it this way. “The renouncement of all things is difficult. But when one attains to it, no life is easier nor more pleasant nor more lovable, since God is always endeavouring to dwell with man.”
When we fast or renounce other things, we grow our capacity to gain the one and only thing that satisfies. God takes us on this journey because He wants us to find our satisfaction in Him.
Lent begins next Wednesday. Follow God’s leading regarding what to fast from, give to, and pray for. As Eckhart concludes: “May God help us all to follow Him that He may bring us to Himself.”