The Saviour of the World, in casual way,
Drops words of our Salvation, links of chain
Let down to draw us from that nether hell
Which is but our own self to itself left;
“To believe is to be saved, but ye must will;”
“I will,” we cry, and haste to make resolve,
Spin ropes of sand can bear no work-day strain,
Because we give not that is asked of us;
Act of attention, not act of resolve,
The high demand: think we upon the Lord,
His ways of sweetness and His words of power,
Lo, we escape hell-fire, consuming souls
Aflame with desire for things that good they hold,
Fleeing their Peace the while! Attention, Soul!
Charlotte Mason wrote a poetic commentary on the life of Christ called “The Saviour of the World” which I have been enjoying working my way through slowly. The above poem stood out to me this week in that it elevated the power of our “attention” even above our “resolve” when it comes to following Christ. That fascinates me! Scripture is definitely concerned with our minds, urging us to set our thoughts on things above, not on earthly things and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Jesus said that where our treasure is there our hearts will be also. But how many times does the victorious Christian life seem out of reach no matter how decisive we are in willing ourselves to follow Him? Could it be that our thoughts and attention are consumed with other things?
Jesus is the very Word of God made flesh, the ultimate idea worthy of capturing our complete attention. He is the Bread of Life. Jesus said the “bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger…I am the living bread that came down out of heaven.” The crowds began to desert Jesus at this point. These were hard teachings! But when our minds and souls feast on Jesus, “His ways of sweetness and His words of power”, we discover a spiritual sustenance even more vital to our existence than physical food. The very life of God is born in us.
So what is it that has captured your attention this Easter weekend? It’s important to consider because attention informs our affections. And together, attention and affection are like the handmaidens of our wills. Without them, our resolve can spin nothing but “ropes of sand” that can’t bear the pressures of life. But, when engaged, my attention and affection gently lead my will to surrender to the One I love. And we learn to pray like Jesus “not my will but Yours be done!” That kind of prayer doesn’t come easy. That kind of prayer can’t flow out of sheer grit and determination. It is a prayer of resolve, but that kind of decisiveness and submission must follow on the heels of love.
Thomas Aquinas puts it another way:
“Love cannot be rightly ordered unless the proper goal of our hope is established; nor can there be any hope if knowledge of the truth is lacking. Therefore the first thing necessary is faith, by which you may come to a knowledge of the truth. Secondly, hope is necessary that your intention may be fixed on the right end. Thirdly, love is necessary, that your affections may be perfectly put in order.”from Compendium of Theology by Thomas Aquinas
PJ will be preaching about the virtues of faith, hope, and love this morning that Paul lists in I Corinthians 13. Engage your faith in the Word of God made flesh today, the only thing worthy of capturing completely your thoughts and attention. Let your gaze fall on the Risen Christ, and with a baby step of faith, turn Your attention to Him. When He captures your heart, He will fill you with the hope and love you have longed for all your life.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song…
It’s a little different than the usual songs I would share on a Sunday morning. It’s not even sung in English, but you can read the English subtitles. After all, this was originally sung in Hebrew, so we can listen to someone sing it in Russian. It’s taken from Exodus 15:11 where Moses and his sister Miriam are singing God’s praise for His deliverance from Egypt and the miraculous escape through the Red Sea. It seems like the perfect verse of scripture to meditate on during this Passover and Easter weekend…and a perfect verse to fix our attention on the Lord of lords, the God above all gods. Let your mind and heart wonder today, who is like Him? There is none like Him!