My dear friends in Christ,
Even as I own the redemption of a child of God, I wrestle with the Lord.
You have seen me, and known me, as friend and guide. I have worked with tremendous zeal, owing my success to God in every way. But I have also done what I have done in part from my own will, and according to my own vision of righteousness. What is that to God? There are things which you and I embrace, beloved, that we may know in our own ways. For to each is given a different knowledge of blessedness, of faith, of service, of commitment. But I tell you now: there is no different vision of righteousness, as there is no different vision of love. What have I to say to what is, through God, universal for all ages?
No, I charge you, as I charge myself, to remember humility first in your service. We know seldom what way the Lord will present himself (or herself) to us, and we are called to one thing only: to do the will of God. If, then, that will is not what we would have ourselves see and know, what does that say of us? Should we manipulate it so that we may be satisfied? What is our will when set against the will of God?
I recall for you the words of a blessed brother of the faith, now passed: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His vision sought the Truth which eludes us, that is, the original state in which we knew God and that was all. But as we are sinners, we separate ourselves from God by the desire to work to our own ends. And though those ends seem altruistic and grounded in faith, they are anathema to God if they are not born of God’s will.
Which is what I mean to say to you in this letter. I do not have command over love, or righteousness, or hope, or truth; though I say I know it this way, or I know it that, it is not for me to grasp the knowledge of these things, but for them to manifest themselves in and through me. Do you not know already that God is unreachable? For what has it availed those who have climbed stairways to heaven? It is, in the very first instance, for themselves, and thus they are fallen. And since these are things which God must be, of God’s very nature—that is, hope, truth, love, and righteousness—then, as we pray for God to come to us in our brokenness, why should we not then also allow the knowledge of these virtues to come to us as well? Do not grab a hold of them: even Christ has said to us that he did not claim equality with God as something to be grasped. So you should leave your hands and hearts where they are and be humble in your humanness. For there is no other way to be filled with God than through our own emptiness.
I ask you, then, to go forth and bear witness to God—not as though God were something to be grasped, but as a satisfaction rendered in the impossible state of languish, and that you are no ways able to make good on the promise of redemption by your own accord. It is not for you to say that love is in your hand, or righteousness, or truth, or any good thing that is, by necessity, of God. No, rather, it is in you to profess and urge humility and emptiness of self, that we may all be filled—not with our own deceptions and desires, but with the manifest will of God.
I call you always to be at peace with yourselves and with one another, patient in the enduring task you have before you, confident in the work of God who makes all things right.
In love and faith, I remain forever your brother and friend in Christ,