Wow. I was blown away this morning. First, I have to admit that I wasn't too excited about my morning readings that started today and will go through the next two weeks or so. I'm about to finish up The Imitation of Christ, and the last section of the book is entitled "Exhortation to Receive Holy Communion." Not too excited about that, especially since a'Kempis was a Catholic monk. I knew that more than any other parts of the book, this section was going to be particularly difficult for me to glean anything from… or so I thought. In the opening chapter he is talking about our invitation to approach God through Communion, but really these words are just as applicable in any other situation where you would approach God: prayer, reading God's word, worship through song, etc. I've slightly edited the section below for length.
Hold on to your panties…
O how sweet and loving in the ears of a sinner are the words by which you, my Lord God, invite the poor and needy…
But who am I, Lord that I should presume to approach you?
"Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you," and you say, "Come — all of you — to me."
What does this gracious honor and loving invitation mean?
How shall I dare to come, I who know of no good in myself on which to presume?
How shall I bring you into my house, I who have so often offended in your most gracious sight?
Angels and archangels stand in awe of you, holy and righteous people fear you, and you say, "Come to me — all of you."
If you had not said it, O Lord, who would believe it to be true?
And if you had not commanded it, who would attempt to draw near?
Behold, that just man Noah worked a hundred years to build an ark that he and a few others might be saved, and how then can I prepare myself in one hour to commune reverently with the Maker of the world?
Your great servant and special friend, Moses, made an ark of incorruptible wood, which he covered with purest gold to place in it the tablets of your law — shall then I, a creature of corruption, dare so easily to receive you, the Maker of the law and Giver of life?
Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, spent seven years building a magnificent temple in praise of your name.
He celebrated its dedication with a feast of eight days, sacrificed countless peace offerings in your honor, and solemnly set the Ark of the Covenant with trumpeting and jubilation in the place prepared for it.
And I, the most miserable and poorest of all, how shall I receive you into my house — I who can scarcely spend one-half hour in true devotion?
If only I could spend even that much time in a worthy and proper manner!
Nevertheless, our coldness and neglect is much to be deplored and pitied, that we are not moved with greater affection to receive Christ, in whom is all the hope and merit of those that are to be saved.
Wow. Now, of course, God has said that we can come before him boldly. That is absolutely true, and something that should be taught and we should take note of. But I think in today's modern culture, most of us struggle not with bashfulness but with brazenness in the presence of Almighty God. This was a good reminder for me this morning.