Friday, December 07, 2007

Leaning into the comfort of God

I've been studying A Man for All Seasons with my seniors this week. It's Robert Bolt's account of Thomas More's life and his unwavering devotion to his religion and his God, even in the face of losing his life. I first saw the play live early in my college career and was riveted by the performance. The story has haunted me ever since, and when I started teaching British Literature, I knew it would have to be one of the things I shared with my students.

For context, we first watched an old (1953) black and white movie chronicling the story of Martin Luther. I saw this movie at a church prayer meeting when I was probably 7 or 8. There's a in it scene where Luther is at the Diet of Worms, firmly stating that "I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand, I can do no other." I love that scene! Sends shivers down my spine even now to think about it. Happily, my seniors responded as I'd hoped they would, and found the story inspiring as well.

Now, they are in the midst of Thomas More's equally inspiring story, although ironically about
staying true to the religion that Luther opposed. The point is not so much the religion as the uncompromising devotion to it. Today, to begin the class, I shared a prayer that More wrote from the Tower of London where he awaited his execution. We found his words uplifting and encouraging, especially the line where he talks about leaning "into the comfort of God's love." I needed to be reminded of that today. I needed to actually do that today, leaning into the comfort of God's love....

Give me the grace, Good Lord

To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon words of men's mouths.

To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.

Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.

Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.

To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God.

To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity. Patiently to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life.

To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the judge comes.

To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks.

To buy the time again that I have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations.

Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ.

To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap.


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Ruth said...

That is a wonderful prayer. I will have to revisit those movies.

Inland Empire Girl said...

beautiful words...thanks for sharing.