Fourteenth-century theologian and mystic John Tauler prayed for eight years that God would send him a person who would teach him the true way of perfection. One day, while at prayer, he heard a voice from within telling him to go outside to the steps of the church, and there he would meet his mentor. He obeyed without hesitation. On the church steps Tauler found a barefoot ragamuffin in rags, wounded and caked in blood.
Tauler greeted the man cordially: “Good morning, dear brother. May God give you a good day and grant you a happy life.”
“Sir,” replied the ragamuffin, “I do not remember ever having had a bad day.”
Stunned, Tauler asked him how that was possible since sadness and grief are part of the human condition.
The beggar explained, “You wished me a good day, and I replied that I cannot recall ever having spent a bad day. You see, whether my stomach is full or I am famished with hunger, I praise God equally; when I am rebuffed and despised, I still thank God. My trust in God’s providence and his plan for my life is absolute, so there is no such thing as a bad day.”
He continued, “Sir, you also wished me a happy life. I must insist that I am always happy for it would be untruthful to state otherwise. My experience of God has taught me that whatever He does must of necessity be good (emphasis mine). Thus, everything that I receive from his loving hand or whatever He permits me to receive from the hands of others – be it in prosperity or adversity, sweet or bitter – I accept with joy and see it as a sign of his favor. For many, many years now, my first resolution each morning is to attach myself to nothing but the will of God alone. I have learned that the will of God is the love of God. And by the outpouring of His grace, I have so merged my will with His that whatever He wills, I will too. Therefore, I have always been happy.”
If you haven’t read this book yet, go get it now.
Manning, Brennan. Ruthless Trust, the Ragamuffin’s Path to God. New York: HarperOne, 2009. print.