Text and art by I. Lilias Trotter
There came such a lovely sense… of what it means to be “buried with Christ” – not only dead but buried – “put to silence in the grave” – “I can” and “I can’t” put to silence side by side – the lovely silence and stillness of “a grave beside Him” with God’s seal on the stone and His watch set, that nothing but the risen life of Jesus may come forth.
“Give me a death in which there shall be no life, and a life in which there shall be no death” – That was a prayer of the Arab saint, Abed-El-Kader – I came upon it again the other day – is it not wonderful?
And all nature here is full of such intense quietness, these autumn days. A solemn quietness, with the sense of the spring behind it, like Easter eve – the dear living things are going into their graves – and one sees how the grave is a must-be. “Fall into the ground and die” – not upon it. The road outside our lodging is strewn with acorns that will never come to anything because they are just lying on the ground, not in it. “Fall into” – not “struggle into.”
Two glad services are ours
Both the Master loves to bless
First we serve with all our powers
Then with all our helplessness.
These lines of Charles Fox have rung in my head this last fortnight – and they link on with the wonderful words “weak with Him” – for the world’s salvation was not wrought out by the three years in which He went about doing good, but in the three hours of darkness in which He hung stripped and nailed, in utter exhaustion of spirit, soul and body, till His heart broke. So little wonder for us, if the price of power is weakness.
God needs that helplessness as truly as the negative pole is needed to complete the electric circuit and set free the power. And so when one can only lie like sort of a log, unable even to frame the prayers one would like to pray, His Spirit will find the way through that lowest point which He so strangely needs, and lift them up to the Throne.