For the last several weeks I have been working through a book by Mary Poplin on her time with Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity in India, Finding Calcutta.
I'm not sure why I picked it up, except that I was looking for a good beach devotional...something to keep my Spirit growing without too much work on my part.
Since it's a library book, I haven't been able to mark it, though truthfully that has never stopped me before. I have been known to borrow a book and get so enraptured in it that I forgot I was not its owner and I would have at it like a possessed person. Of course later, with great contrition, I would humbly buy another brand-new copy for the owner. Yeah, I know...
Anyway, today I finally finished the book and I was a little sad...always the sign of a good read in my estimation.
I put it down on the seat next to me....picked it up...skimmed through it...took note of all the Notes in the back...and at that moment I knew I had to get my own copy...the library was waiting for theirs and they do not take kindly to overdue desecrated books. And this book deserves to be a marked edition.
So, you may ask, what is it you are getting at?
Well today I thought I would ask you the same question the Spirit is asking me...if I need to struggle, I do so appreciate company...
"What is your Calcutta?"
Before you answer, read this from the book...
"We the missionaries of Charity carry out an offensive of love, of prayer, of sacrifice on behalf of the poorest of the poor. We want to conquer the world through love, and thus bring to everyone's heart the love of God and the proof that God loves the world."
"I, _______________, carry out an offensive of love, of prayer, of sacrifice on behalf of ________________. I want to conquer the world through love, and thus bring to everyone's heart the love of God and the proof that God loves the world."
Wow, that is powerful...so good... so right...so like a calling from God.
And I love the idea of "an offensive of love" which, by the way, was almost the heading to this blog...but now I'm skirting the issue and questions remain...
Do I see this as my calling?
And if so, How am I doing in it? Or better yet, Am I doing it? The call is scriptural. After all, loving God and our neighbor are the greatest commandments.
There are some powerful words in that quote that give us an idea of how we are to carry this calling out...offensive...sacrifice...conquer...bring....words that demand action.
We can talk about loving 'til we are blue in the face, but faith without works is dead. Yes, showing love is much more costly than just talking about it, but the difference is eternal. People are dying to see love in action.
It brings to mind the words from a song by Don Francisco that I used to sing years ago...Love is not a feeling, it's an act of your will.
It sounds so good...but it is so hard.
Just like Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity, God has called each of us to a sphere of service...our Calcutta.
It is a place of self-denial...of sacrifice...and often of suffering. We die so that He may live before those we are called to serve...so that they may see not us, but Christ in us, their hope of glory.
It is a call to the Way of Love.
Recently my sister was here, and during one of our "early morning-on the deck-coffee-in-hand" talks, we shared our burdens for the many we love who are apart from Christ...who are entangled in the deceits of sin...who are in pain. What are we to do?
Yes, we know it's the Spirit's work to draw them to Himself.
And of course we are to pray.
But now I see more clearly that our calling, above all else, is to love them...not belittle them...complain about them...spear them with our words. That's the flesh at it's worst.
Instead, like the Sisters of Charity, we are called to serve each person we meet with compassion and tenderness...no matter how they treat us. Our love for Christ demands that we see each person as precious...dearly beloved by God. And to recognize that by serving them, we are in fact serving Him.
And that's how I want to see...to be...with all my heart. I really do. But I fall so far short.
I know I will spend my lifetime learning the Way of Love...battling to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil...they don't take kindly to the Way of the Cross.
Choosing to live a life of service...of self-denial...of love will always come with a price tag attached.
But Christ paid that price for us and now are called to pay it back, out of our love for Him.
Be encouraged dear ones...we can do all things through Christ Who gives us strength to do His will...to be His hands, His feet, His mouth...to answer His Call to love...
Our neighbors...our families...our co-workers...all those whom God places in our paths each day...the lovely and the unlovely...the lovable and the unlovable...all those whom God wants to meet...
Through you. Through me.
May each of us find great joy in serving Him, and others, in our Calcutta.
Calcutta photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/35409814@N00/11851229114">Love for One's Neighbour</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>