In my reading this morning from Strength to Love, a compilation of some of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermons, I was encouraged by his elucidation of the parable of the person asking a friend for bread in the middle of the night (Luke 11:5-13). It inspired my own musings.
To what “friend” do I go when I need sustenance at my darkest hour?
My darkest hour is not an external event. The events of life demand a response, and with careful consideration, I can usually come up with something. No, my darkest hour is an internal process. It is when I am hijacked by guilt and shame. For some of you it may be when you are blinded by anger/frustration or kidnapped by fear/anxiety.
When I am truly consumed by shame, I go to the narrative of my ego to either convict me of my guilt or convince me of my innocence. The bread which I am seeking is the loving gaze of God, which is unconditional love, total acceptance and approval, kindness, and compassion, but I am attempting to eat from a moldy loaf. My “friend,” the ego, does not have that gaze to offer because its mode is self-preservation based on judgment. It preserves itself by seeing itself in competition with and separate from everyone else. The ego believes that it is self-sustaining and survives by comparison. As it happens, I will never measure up to the standard of external perfection which my ego has set. I will eternally be rejected by the “friend” who doesn’t want to bother getting up with me at midnight. In other words, my ego narrative will most often make a case for my guilt because the evidence is not substantial enough to prove my innocence. The narrative of my ego may also sway the other way, at times, making the “other” guilty and me self-righteous. Either way, there is no nourishment to be found.
The reward of persistence comes when I look to a different Source Who gives me a new set of eyes—the eyes of Unconditional Love. This means that, rather than argue with my ego for or against my innocence, I simply detach from the narrative and look elsewhere for bread. I go to the Source who says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
This asking requires an element of surrender. I must release my ego narrative, the case for my guilt or the guilt of others, so that I may receive the gift of Total Provision, or as Jesus called it, the Holy Spirit. I will know from which table I am eating by my feelings after the meal. My “friend,” the ego, will leave me hungry. Total Provision fills me with faith, hope, and love. Where do I find this Source? Within my own heart.