Living Like Frank A. (Francis of Assisi)
Posted on September 18, 2018 by America's Keswick in Freedom Fighters
See, Christianity is not a philosophy primarily. Christianity is a relationship to this Jesus. Which is why the renewal of the Church, though it has an institutional dimension; though it involves practical changes and all of that, always has to do, primarily with a return to Jesus Christ. When the Son of Man is lifted up, and that means on the cross, He will draw all people to Himself. The scattering power of sin is overcome by this great act of God’s gathering in.~ Robert Barron
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” … And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” … Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” … And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And He said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And He said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.
~ The epic vision of Isaiah, in Chapter 6 of His prophecy
Oh beloved, it is true.
For anyone who thinks they know a little about history, it is often true that what we have heard about history is incorrect. And, Francis of Assisi may be one of the least understood of the Christian movers and shakers of the Middle Ages.
Frank A. has often been cast as some sort of a hippy-type guy who just went around and did nice things for people. And, while it is true that he dedicated himself to the poor, it is far from true that he was just some sort of pacifist.
In addition to preaching to birds and wolves (yes, these really happened),
Francis fought in both violent military and dark spiritual battles.
Francis was part of the Crusades.
Francis had theological arguments with Muslims.
Francis lost men in both battle and from his Franciscan order to martyrdom.
Francis sacrificed every comfort to go and do absolutely anything the L_RD led him to do.
Francis was a man of the cloth, who worked hard to rebuild the churches where he worked – both spiritually and physically.
And the path to this was a life that started out shallow and full of the things upper middle-class teens did during the time: chasing women and drinking.
A bit more of his story will help us.
Francis was just kind of going through his life, and he had a dream. It was a dream where he was asked why he was serving the servant rather than the Master. The meaning of this was that G_d was challenging Francis to serve the Giver of the gifts in life, rather than the gifts themselves. And, over time, he became completely dissatisfied with his upper middle-class lifestyle. He was never a bad guy. Just a partier who chased the girls and sang them songs.
But suddenly, it wasn’t enough. Not even close.
Can we see it?
The dream had torn a big hole in his worldview. Suddenly, Francis began to see the suffering around him. He began to see how even the Church was falling into disrepair in both, terms of infrastructure, and in terms of spiritual submission to the Lordship of The L_RD Jesus Christ.
And, in this seeing the need around him, he also began to see the terrible and deep need within himself to follow Jesus with every ounce of his being. He had caught the beautiful leading edge of the Gospel. He came to realize that he was poverty-stricken within his own spirit. Even though he had money and cool clothes and popularity, he realized that none of this had any value, and only served as perfume on the corpse of his old self.
This led Francis on a journey that few Christians ever even attempted. GK Chesterton probably says it best here: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” But a few, like Francis of Assisi, saw that a life of utter abandonment to the Providence of G_d, and a joyous embrace of suffering through entering into the suffering of others, held the power for eternal good – and the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven across the world.
It really became an odyssey. While Francis toiled to share a clearly Christian Gospel throughout Europe and the Middle East, he also toiled exceedingly long hours in prayer and contemplation. He lived, drenched in the Presence of G_d. He was utterly fearless. He walked in submission to the Word, and to the Holy Spirit. And nearly anything he touched or spoke to was made better.
Then it went deeper than nearly any of us can imagine. He began to pray intensely for two things. One, that he would Love like Jesus Loved – fully. And two, that he might experience as much as humanly possible the depth of suffering that his Best Friend had endured in his work on the Cross. The first we understand – we think. But, truly, the first prayer could not have been answered without the second also being fulfilled.
And, towards the end of his life, writer upon writer spoke of this incredible mix of Francis’s embracing of suffering, richly combined with an overwhelmingly powerful joyous Love of both Jesus, and every living creature around him. So much so that we talk about his impact on the Kingdom nearly 800 years after his death (which he entered into laying naked on the floor, impoverished – and singing with joy).
So, are you looking for power in your walk with Jesus? Frank A. was starving for it. But he, and many others found the answer. Total surrender. Utter obedience. Joyful embrace of letting go and entering into the suffering of those around him.
Frightening? No. This fool of a writer let go nearly 8 years ago and began an odyssey of his own. He has brought me through pain I cannot describe, and grown a Love in me for others that i cannot hide. Maybe tonight is your night too: Surrender to the suffering. Let Jesus take you on a journey that will never end.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: In our abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as God gave Himself for us, without any calculation. The consequences of abandonment never enter into our outlook because our life is taken up with Him. ~Oswald Chambers
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:And I will wait on the Lord, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him. Isaiah 8:17