Chapter XLV Hearts devoted to God find all things light and easy
It is easy to obey God
Nor do they find it difficult to submit to such a rule: but on the contrary, it is their pleasure and delight. In the world, on the contrary, I saw that men conformed but unwillingly, only as they were constrained to do so. As for these, God has changed their stony hearts and given them hearts of flesh, pliable and perfectly yielding to His will. Although the devil by his crafty suggestions, the world by its influence, and the flesh by its natural disinclination toward the good have caused them difficulties, yet they care not for any of these things. They drive the devil away by the bombardment of their prayers, guard themselves against the world by the shield of their unswerving determination, and compel their body to obedience by the scourge of discipline. Thus they joyfully continue to perform their duties (within the limits of their present attainments). Thus I found that in truth to serve God with one’s whole heart is not a drudgery but a delight; and I understood that those who too frequently excuse themselves on the score of being only human do not appreciate the power and effectiveness of the new birth, or perhaps have never experienced it. Let them beware! Among the Christians I found none to claim license to sin by alleging the weaknes of the flesh, or to excuse the perpetration of a vile deed by the fraility of human nature. For here I saw that whoever surrendered his entire heart to Him who had created it, redeemed it and sanctified it for His temple, found his other members, freely and by degrees, to follow the heart, and to incline toward whatever God directed. Oh, Christian, whoever you are, free yourseld from the fetters of the flesh, discover, experience, and learn that the obstacles which your mind imagines are too small to be able to obstruct your will, provided only that you will be earnest!
To suffer for Christ is delightful
2 Not only is it easy to do what God desires, but even to suffer what He imposes. For not a few of those here present have been buffeted, spat upon, and beaten by the world, but have wept with joy and have lifted their hands to God in praise that He has deemed them worthy to suffer for His name. So that they not only believed in the Crucified, but were themselves crucified in His honor. Others, who have been spared persecutions, envied them with a holy envy, fearing God’s wrath for lack of correction and an alienation from Christ for lack of the cross. Consequently, they kissed the scourge and the rod of God whenever they were scourged by Him, and embraced every kind of cross.
Whence comes such a consecration
3 All this results from the complete consecration of their will to God, so that they may do nothing else or desire to become nothing else than as God has willed. Therefore, whatever befalls them, they are certain that it has come from God’s providential decree. Thus nothing unexpected can overtake such men, for they count stripes, prisons, tortures, and death itself among God’s good gifts. Whether they live in abundance or in want is equally indifferent to them, save that they regard the former as the more questionable, the latter the safer. Consequently, they take delight and pride in their trials, wounds, and scars. In brief, they are so seasoned in God that unless they suffer, they regard themselves as idling and wasting their time. Nevertheless, it were better not to lay hands on them rashly; for the more eagerly they expose their backs, the more difficult it is to strike them; and the more fools they seem, the more dangerous it is to ridicule them. For they belong no longer to themselves but to God, and what is done to them is regarded by God as done to Himself. s