This Resource Wednesday, I'd like to share with you an excerpt from a book called Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. My friend, Jenny, gave me this book for my birthday, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading it. It is a story of a young girl named, Katy. It walks through her salvation experience and sanctification process via journal entries. The story takes place in the 1800's, so the language of the book requires your full engagement and it makes you "work for it" as you strive to comprehend the meaning.
The excerpt I would like to share with you is lengthy but worth the read. It is rich in theology and in wisdom for the Christian walk. It addresses the subject of sanctification. This particular scene picks up a few weeks after Katy's conversion to Christianity. She is sharing with her journal a letter she received from the pastor of her church (Dr. Cabot).
Stepping Heavenward (pages 41-42)
Today Dr. Cabot has sent me some directions for which I have been begging him for a long time. Lest I should wear out this letter by reading it over, I will copy it here. After alluding to my complaint that I sill "saw men as trees walking" he says:
"Yet he who first uttered this complaint had had his eyes opened by the Son of God, and so have you. Now He never leaves His work incomplete, and He will gradually lead you into clear and open vision, if you will allow Him to do it. I say gradually, because I believe this to be His usual method, while I do not deny that there are cases where light suddenly bursts in like a flood. To return to the blind man. When Jesus found that his cure was not complete, He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up; and he was restored and saw every man clearly. Now this must be done for you; and in order to have it done you must go to Christ Himself, not to one of His servants. Make your complaint, tell Him how obscure everything still looks to you, and beg Him to complete your cure. He may see fit to try your faith and patience by delaying this completion; but meanwhile you are safe in His presence, and while led by His hand; He will excuse the mistakes you make, and pity your falls. But you will imagine that it is best that He should at once enable you to see clearly. If it is, you may be sure He will do it. He never makes mistakes. But He often deals far differently with His disciples. He lets them grope their way in the dark until they fully learn how blind they are, how helpless, how absolutely in need of Him.
What His methods will be with you I cannot foretell. But you may be sure that He never works in an arbitrary way. He has a reason for everything He does. You may not understand why He leads you now in this way and now in that, but you may, nay, you must believe that perfection is stamped on His every act.
I am afraid that you are in danger of falling into an error only too common among young Christians. You acknowledge that there has been enmity towards God in your secret soul, and that one of the first steps towards peace is to become reconciled to Him and to have your sins forgiven for Christ's sake. This done, you settle down with the feeling that the great work of life is done, and that your salvation is sure. Or, if not sure, that your whole business is to study your own case to see whether you are really in a state of grace. Many persons never get beyond this point. They spend their whole time in asking the question: Do I Love the Lord or no? Am I his or am I not?
I beg you , my dear child, if you are doing this aimless, useless work, to stop short at once. Life it too precious to spend in a tread-mill. Having been pardoned by your God and Savior, the next thing you have to do is to show your gratitude for this infinite favor by consecrating yourself entirely to Him, body, soul, and spirit. This is the least you can do. He has bought you with a price, and you are longer your own. But you may reply, this is contrary to my nature. I love my own way. I desire ease and pleasure; I desire to go to heaven, to be carried thither on a bed of flowers. Can I not give myself so far to God as to feel a sweet sense of peace with Him, and be sure of final salvation, and yet, to a certain extent, indulge and gratify myself? If I give myself entirely away in Him and lose all ownership in myself, He may deny me many things I greatly desire. He may make my life hard and wearisome, depriving me of all that now makes it agreeable. But, I reply, this is no matter of parley and discussion; it is not optional with God's children whether they will pay Him part of the price they owe Him, and keep back the rest. He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have and all you are. And if you shrink from what is involved in such a surrender, you should fly to Him at once and never rest till He has conquered this secret disinclination to give to Him as freely and as fully as He has given to you.
It is true that such an act of consecration on your part may involve no little future discipline and correction. As soon as you become the Lord's by your own deliberate and conscious act, He will begin that process of sanctification which is to make you holy as He is holy, perfect as He is perfect. He becomes at once your physician as well as your dearest and best Friend, but He will use no painful remedy that can be avoided. Remember that it is His will that you should be sanctified, and that the work of making you holy is His, not yours. At the same time you are not to sit with folded hands, waiting for His blessing. You are to avoid laying hindrances in His way, and you are to exercise faith in Him who is just as able and just as willing to give you sanctification as He was to give you redemption........."