In a little book entitled Daily Readings with Saint John of the Cross (Templegate: Springfield, IL, 1985), Saint John writes, “To have God in everything a soul must have nothing in everything, for how can a heart belong in any way to two people at once?” (59). This, of course, is reminiscent of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
I think Saint John is really onto something here, but the question arises, How does one have nothing in everything? Answer: have nothing but God in everything. For instance, I’m sitting at my computer right now and I have two choices as to how to think about it: (1) I can rejoice in the wonder of the computer itself and the genius of those who invented such a thing, or I can rejoice in the fact that I have resources to own it, or I can rejoice in the fact that I have requisite skills to use it, or I can take it for granted and assume that I deserve it. In other words, I can look at this computer from the perspective of my flesh and rejoice in it as an end in itself, or as a means to rejoicing in the genius of others, or as a means to rejoicing in my self.
(2) I can rejoice in the fact that I am alive and in Christ by the immeasurable grace of God, and that God, in his surpassing genius, created people who could create such things as the computer, and that God granted me the resources to obtain one, and that God provided me a way to use it so that it blesses others and not just me, and that God may take it from me some day with a view to augmenting my joy in and dependence upon him. In other words, I can look at this computer from the perspective of the Spirit and see it as a means to rejoice in God.
And I believe that this basic choice lies before us in all things: nature, food, relationships, money, houses, cars, careers, achievements, fame, and the like. Will we rejoice in these things as an end in themselves, or will we see them as means to the end of rejoicing in God? Will we see these things and nothing more, or will we strive for eyes to see the glory of God in all things and worship him for what we see? Will we live for the joy we get from things and people, or will we live for the joy we get in God himself who freely gives us all things and people?
So, perhaps we can restate what Saint John said as follows: “To have God in everything a soul must have nothing ELSE BUT GOD in everything…” Oh Father, may you give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you so that we, indeed, would have nothing else but you in everything.