We must be more precise, more concrete about this matter of holy obedience. Otherwise it will remain forever a pious-sounding theoretical ideal that does not much affect the way we live. Meister Eckhart wrote, “There are plenty to follow our Lord half-way, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends, and honors, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves.” As we cross over the line and venture into this second half, we find ourselves in the land of holy obedience. To gladly disown ourselves, to live in joyful self-renunciation, is the other half from which we so often draw back. Jesus declared, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Harsh demand, this self-denial. We would much prefer more comforting words like “self-fulfillment” and “self-actualization.” Self-denial conjures up in our minds all sorts if images of groveling and self-hatred. We imagine that it most certainly means self-contempt and will probably lead to various forms of self-mortification.
What we have failed to see is this amazing paradox: true self-fulfillment comes only through self-denial. There is no other way. The most certain way to miss self-fulfillment is to pursue it. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
It is wonderful, this losing of one’s self through a perpetual vision of the Holy. We are catapulted into something infinitely larger and more real than our petty existence. A blazing God-consciousness frees us from self-consciousness. It is freedom. It is joy. It is life.
I cannot stress enough how essential this quality is to true simplicity of life. It is the only thing that will allow us to hold the interest of others above self-interest. It saves us from self-pity. It lifts the burden of concern over having a proper image. It frees us from bondage to the opinions of others.
The original intent of presenting this quote was to comment on it, but I think Mr. Foster spoke well enough for me. I'd appreciate the comments of those of you motivated enough to ponder it.