Chapter 2 – Humble Submission
II Humble Submission (click to download)
We are much and can do much; we are nothing and can do nothing. Both of these words are true. How so? Understand it this way: Through God’s grace we are much, with His help we can do much. Without God we are nothing; without His help we can do nothing. So you see, it all depends on God. With Isaiah, we must say: “All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field. The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen.” But again, with David, we can say: “The Lord is my Helper; and I will look over my enemies.”
A little anecdote may help you to understand this truth better. Albert was out in the granary with his father, holing up the sacks to be filled with wheat. Once, just for a few moments, he was not paying attention as he should have done. The sack was already half filled. His father had just begun to pour in the third half-bushel of wheat. Albert’s thoughts had gone travelling: they were on the way to his uncle’s, where he was to spend a few days’ visit the next week. His fingers loosen their hold on the sack only a little, and, behold! The sack slips from them and falls to the floor. The wheat, instead of going into the sack, is poured out beside it.
A sharp box on the ear from his father, accompanied by a few sharp words of reproof, bring back the boy’s straying thoughts. “What are you about, little fellow? Look here; pay attention, and hold up the sack right!”
“Excuse me, papa!” said Albert. “I was just beginning to think about my visit to Uncle Joe, next week. I will not let the sack fall again.”
Now, for the application. Before God every one of us is even less than an empty sack. All that we are—body and soul, with all our bodily and spiritual qualities and abilities—all is a pure gift of God’s love and mercy. Just as the almighty power of God holds and preserves the whole, mighty universe, so He also holds us, every one of us, body and soul, in His almighty hand. IF He should let go His hold of us? If He should let us fall? An empty sack, if you let go your hold of it, falls to the ground. We, if God should, even for a moment, let go His hold of us, would fall down, way down into—nothing! Do you see now, and understand, how completely we are in the hand of God?
This we must not forget. The thought of this, often recalled to our minds, will make us both humble and courageous. It will make us humble: we know and feel that without God we are nothing. If God does not keep us, and help us by His grace, we shall be worse than nothing; we shall be most unfortunate, miserable creatures forever.
This thought will make us courageous; we fear God and nothing else. Are we not in His hand? Is He not an Almighty God? Is He not our best, most loving Father? “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on her son? And if she should forget, yet will I forget thee.” What, then, shall we fear? Sickness? Poverty? The calumnies, enmities, persecutions of men? Shall we fear death? No! We fear nothing and nobody but God, as our Saviour Himself admonishes us to do: “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom ye shall fear: fear ye Him who, after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell.”
Therefore, my little followers of Jesus, take this thought—a grand, beautiful thought—and treasure it up in your hearts: I am altogether in the hand of God. He supports me, and keeps me from falling, just as one supports a sack while it is being filled with wheat. While God thus supports me He is continually pouring into me His gifts—the most precious gifts of His grace and love. He wants to fill me with treasures for heaven. Oh, if ever He should let me fall! I must love Him, my dearest God—love Him always, love Him ardently. I dare never offend Him by grievous sin. I will pray every day, with St. Philip Neri: “Hold me, O Lord, lest I fall and betray Thee!” I will always do as St. Peter says: “Be you humbled under the mighty hand of God.”
But, again, I will not fear; for I trust in the almighty power of my Father in heaven. “If God be for us, who is against us?” Often will I pray, with holy David: “I have put my trust in Thee, O Lord: I said: Thou art my God. My lots are in Thy hands.”
Think over this word of Thomas a Kempis: “Make no great account of who may be for or against thee, but mind and take care that God be with thee in everything thou dost.”