“As soon as one is conscious of the presence of the Master, one must in all passivity, abandon the work to Him.”
That’s a quote from Johannes Tauler, a 14th century Christian. He speaks to those, who with sincere efforts, seek spiritual progress. We give ourselves to God in hopeful, obedient surrender. Paul says it is “our reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). When we turn ourselves Godward, the Lord responds. He is found by those who seek Him. What is required of us in the presence of God? Tauler says, “Do nothing!” Take your hands off your soul. Set your agenda aside. No need to offer God advice or point Him in the right direction. He is the Master. We are the offering. He knows what to do and, quite frankly, can do it better than we could ever imagine.
The novice piano student knows better than to push the Teacher’s fingers aside. The apprentice carpenter stands back to allow the Craftsman to create. The clay gives itself to the Potter. But, too often the spiritual pilgrim stumbles and strives out of a sense of duty and personal responsibility. We act as if soul maturity was up to us. We set our own course and collect the reserves of our strength. We bump and ricochet, hoping to get somewhere we should be – somewhere we want to be. Too often, we wind up exhausted down a side trail that leads to a dead end. All the while Jesus whispers, “Just follow Me.”
For years, I thought soul growth was mine to achieve. I did what the pulpit told me to do. I paced with the community of faith – many just like me – all of us trying to build something godly with our lives. The intent was right. But, the sense of personal responsibility was misplaced. I cannot shape my soul any more than I could save my soul. I need the Master for both. I do not suggest I have no responsibility. But it’s a response of faith - to give myself to the Master. That’s what I did at the beginning of this walk. That’s what I do throughout. At least I want to.
Too often I downshift to the “I can do it!” attitude. I try to grow my own fruit of soul. I head out in the direction and pace that makes sense to me. I dictate my own mission. All of this may be well intentioned, but it is the work of a child. A lopsided birdhouse. A clump of clay that pretends to be a vase. A crayon portrait that has no resemblance to what is beautiful and real. I hand these efforts to the Master to impress and please. By grace, He takes my efforts and whispers, “Do you want help with that?” Tauler says that when the Master shows up, receive the work of His Spirit. Stand on the grace of His Son. Rest in the arms of the Father. Abandon the work of your soul to Him. Let God be God. Marvel at what the Master can build.