Some very young children are in serious danger because they do not receive the love they need in order to stay alive. At Children’s Hospital Oakland (California), Susan Shupp had a job caring for these children. Her assignment was to love them: to hold them, and talk to them and sing to them and play with them, giving them the affection and care for which they are starving. Susan would spend forty-five minutes to one hour with each child. After working there for a while, she began to go home exhausted every day.
Finally, when her fatigue became extreme, she turned to God and said, “I can’t do this anymore. Father, you love them through me.”
The next day she went back to her work transformed. At the end of the day, there was no fatigue. Day after day, week after week, no exhaustion.
Susan’s spiritual wholeheartedness and intelligent sincerity enabled her to receive all that the Father’s spirit within her was ready to pour forth through her.
I’ve been telling that wonderful story since the 1970s. Finally last week it occurred to me to try it myself. I was astounded. The nucleus of my being poured forth the purest love imaginable. For hour after hour, with person after encountered person or remembered person: love. Now I know what I have been writing about for decades, but with an experiential fullness, not a literary one. I turned that love towards every person and group that that I had something against. Immediately frustration, disappointment, resentment, and worse emotions vanished, replaced by nothing but divine love. I felt cleaned out, given a fresh start. What a day to live!
The next day it didn’t take long before I fell back into unbeautifulness, needing to climb out, to struggle toward a more serviceable platform for the day’s activity. I did manage a cooperation with God sufficient to provide a quite decent functioning attitude, thought the experience was a mixed one, human factors of concept co-mingling with spiritual love.
Then today I read the first message in God Calling. I give you an excerpt so that you can grasp the paragraph that I put into practice this morning.
Between the Years
Our Lord and our God. We joy in Thee. Without Thy Help we could not face unafraid
the year before us.
. . . .
Dwell not on the past—only on the present. Only use the past as the trees use My Sunlight to absorb it, to make from it in after days the warming fire-rays. So story only the blessings from Me, the Light of the World. Encourage yourselves by the thought of these.
Bury every fear of the future, of poverty for those dear to you, of suffering, of loss. Bury all thought of unkindness and bitterness, all your dislikes, your resentments, your sense of failure, your disappointment in others and in yourselves, your gloom, your despondency, and let us leave them all, buried, and go forward to a new and risen life.
. . . .
The paragraph about burying the remnants of unbeautiful experiences struck me as a good idea, so I did it. With great forcefulness and vigor I did it. Then I moved to interiorize the action by gestures of burying the ashes of the body of someone who has died: digging up a small hole in the ground, pouring in the ashes, pushing the dirt back into the hole, and standing astride the grave, triumphantly expecting the recycled energies coming forth in new growth.
Next I took my decision to bury those things into my soul. With the decision of my mind, I handed it up and released it into that dim realm of the true, deeper, and real self where powerful decisions are taken close to the light.
You may imagine that after that session this morning, when it was time to awaken love once more, what came forth was more worthy than my blended experience of yesterday, if still short of the recent, revelatory outpouring.
At its core, human love is received from God and given to another, going from one indwelt personality to another. In love at its core, the evolutionary factors of the self are in the background, eclipsed by the shining of what has come straight from the Father. The outworking of love, the merciful ministry, requires understanding attention to what surrounds that core, the evolutionary being in concreteness. But the basic connection of love that motivates and is expressed through that merciful ministry is received from God and passed on to the other.
And so it is: the gradual process of growth, with its ups and downs. Sometimes God’s transformative action is powerful and decisive. At other times, we do what we can in the back and forth between ourselves and God.
Please excuse me for being so autobiographical. The point is to share something that may give you some ideas you want to try out. And if you like one of these ideas, don’t wait forty years to do so!
The quoted selection is from God Calling, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
Photo: Baby’s Life Saving Cot Designed by Nurse at Middlesex Hospital, London, England, UK, 1945
Sister Mary Williams holds a young baby as she prepares to demonstrate the new cot she has designed at Middlesex Hospital, London. The cot is a ‘box’ on a stand and is leaning at a 45 degree angle: it can be laid flat. An oxygen cannister can be seen on the lower part of the frame.