Paraphrase and amplification of Imitation of Christ (Book 2; Chapters 7, 8, and 11) by Thomas à Kempis…
Loving and Trusting Jesus
Blissful is the one who understands what it is to love Jesus and to despise himself for Jesus’ sake.
It is fitting for one in love to forsake all things for the one they love, for Jesus would be loved alone above all things. The love of any creature is failing and unstable, but the love of Christ is true and persevering.
He that binds himself in love to any creature or thing shall fall with it, for all creatures and all things perish. But he that embraces Jesus shall be made steadfast forever. Love the Lord and hold fast to Him as a friend who, when all else has passed away, shall not forsake you and will not allow you to perish in the end.
From all things, you must be eventually departed, whether you want to be or not, for nothing lasts forever. Everything is temporary. But, whether living or dying, hold yourself fast to Jesus, who never had a beginning and who will have no end. Commit yourself to His trust who, when everything else fails, will alone remain to be your help and your comfort.
It is God’s right and privilege to accept as friend who He desires to accept, to adopt who He desires to adopt. Your Beloved (Christ) is of such a nature that He will admit no stranger into His family, but He alone will have your heart and sit as a King on his own throne. So, if you could free yourself from every other creature, then Jesus would gladly dwell with you. But He will not share that place with another, nor should we expect Him to.
If you trust in any creature, you will eventually find that all is lost. No creature or thing can hold you up! Trust not, nor lean upon, a windy reed … for all flesh is like grass and its glory shall fall as the flower of the field. (see 1 Peter 1:24-25)
Finding and Drawing Near to Jesus
If you look only to the outer appearance of men, you will be quickly and easily deceived. If you seek solace and benefit in others, you will find that it becomes a hindrance to you. If you seek yourself, you will find yourself, but you will discover that it is to your own harm.
A man hurts himself more if he chooses not to seek Jesus than all the world and all his adversaries can hurt him.
When Jesus is near, everything becomes goodness and nothing seems hard, but when Jesus is not near, everything is hard. Not that we won’t have trials who trust in Christ, but we will see them for what they are — God’s loving discipline and perfecting reproof.
When Jesus speaks not within your heart, whatever comfort the world would give you is of little value, but if Jesus speaks even one word, then there is found great comfort. Blissful is that man who, when Jesus comes, is called from tears into the joy of the Spirit by His mere presence and understanding embrace.
How dry and how hard we are without Jesus! How unsavory, how vain is our covetousness, even as what we seek would often harm us even unto death. What good would even the whole world be without Jesus? To be without Him is a grievous hell, but to be with Jesus is a sweet paradise.
If Jesus is with you, then no enemy may hurt you.
The one who finds Jesus finds a great treasure, even a treasure of more value than all other things together. But the one who loses Jesus loses more than if he lost the entire world.
Knowing and Therefore Loving Jesus
It is a great craft for a person to sit and speak with Jesus, to know how to simply be held by Him is a great wisdom.
Be meek and peaceable, and Jesus will hasten to be with you. Be devout and restful, and Jesus shall abide with you. It is easy to chase Jesus away and lose His precious presence if you allow your heart to prefer other things. And if you chase Him out and lose Him, to whom will you turn? What other friend will you seek? You cannot live well without friends. And if you turn away from Jesus, no other friend will be able to assuage your guilt or loneliness, or offer you real wisdom, or give you rest from your weariness … no matter how highly you esteem or trust them.
It would be better for the whole world to hate you than to be estranged from Jesus.
Among all, therefore, that is dear to you, let Jesus be your dearest love and most special friend. Let all love be for Jesus. He only is to be loved, who is alone found good and true before all other friends. For Him and in Him let both friends and enemies be dear to you, and pray for them – friends and enemies alike – that they would know His love.
Never desire to be singularly praise or loved, for that belongs to God alone, and there is none like Him.
Nor desire that anyone would be preoccupied in their minds in love for you alone, for that place too is reserved for God. Better to be pure and free within, without the impediment or encumbrance of any other creature. Not that we would refuse or reject love, but always that we would refuse worship and hold it in our hearts for only One.
Receiving Grace from Jesus
If you want to taste and see how sweet God is, lay yourself bare and bear to God a pure and contrite heart. And to become pure, seek God’s grace. For without it, you cannot see God. But when the grace of God comes to a man, then he is mighty to all things. But if it goes away, then that man is poor and weak and left only to pain.
In all these things, do not despair or be cast down, but stand simply at the will of God and suffer whatever comes while praising the Lord, for after winter comes summer, and after evening comes morning, and after the tempest comes great calm. And God’s loving grace brings them all.
Sacrifice for Jesus
Jesus has many who love the kingdom of heaven, but few who bear the cross. He has many who desire consolation but few who desire tribulation. He finds many fellows of the table, but few of abstinence.
All desire to joy with Jesus, but few will suffer pan for Him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of the bread, but few unto the drinking of the cup of the passion. Many worship his miracles, but few follow the reproof of His cross.
Many love Jesus when there is no adversity.
Many praise Him and bless Him while they take away consolations from Him, but if Jesus hide Himself and forsake them a little, they fall into complaining or even great dejection.
But they that love Jesus for Jesus, and not for any consolations, they bless Him in every tribulation and with anguish of heart, just the same as in the highest consolation. As if He would never give them consolation, still they ever praise Him and thank Him. We chose gratitude because God is worthy of it, not because we understand our circumstances well enough to warrant it.
O how mighty is the pure love of Jesus when it is mingled with no love or profit of self. Drunk and charmed with ourselves we will never worship God as He deserves nor walk with Him as He desires.
Bring your Heart to Jesus
Take your eyes from yourself, whether your opinion is high or low, and ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. Tremble before him. Bring a worthy offering when you come into His courts. For God desires nothing from the field or the forest or the waters or the heavens, but rather your very heart, your very soul. Bring this offering to the Lord, to discover that He is worthy and that you in that place are who you were made to be.