Friday, March 19th, 2021
Hello friends and family —
The words in Henri Nouwen’s devotional for today hit particularly close to home with me. His writings and most devotionals I read provide much needed gleaning for my soul and overall mental awareness. I have been struggling for sometime about “things” that are difficult for me to name. Most days I can shrug off the emotions as simply growing pains and points of clarity for myself. I absolutely love my devotional quiet time and find it both relaxing and exhilarating. When I’m reading God’s word or the works of other biblical scholars and people of faith, I am able to process the lessons and draw my own personal experiences into the stories. Today, the very first sentence grabbed my attention. “Fellowship with Jesus Christ is not a commitment to suffer as much as possible, but a commitment to LISTEN with him to God’s love without fear…”(1).
🔴 ➡️ “It’s God’s will.” ⬅️ 🔴
🔴 ➡️ “The Will of God.” ⬅️ 🔴
Have anyone ever said those words to you, or maybe you’ve said them to someone. Often, we are tempted to “explain” suffering in these terms. “Not only can this evoke anger and frustration, but also it is false. “God’s will” is not a label that can be put on unhappy situations. God wants to bring joy not pain, peace not war, healing not suffering. Therefore, instead of declaring anything and everything to be the will of God, we must be willing to ask ourselves where in the midst of our pains and suffering we can discern the living presence of God.”(2).
Commitment to listen, is to be obedient to listening. We must be willing to listen for God’s voice, and the Holy Spirit opening our hearts to receive God’s message for us. Our prayer lives are a healthy balance of lifting our petitions to God, (talking to God) and giving God the chance to speak to us as well. “…we discover that our obedient listening leads to our suffering neighbors, we can go to them in the joyful knowledge that love brings us there. We are poor listeners because we are afraid that there is something other than live in God. This is not so strange since we seldom, if ever, experience love without a taint of jealousy, resentment, revenge, or even hatred. Often we see love surrounded by limitations and conditions.”(3).
Artwork by: Me
I know at times, I have a tendency to be a bad/poor listener, not because I can’t hear what is being said, but too often my mouth engages with a response before my brain fully grasps the ramifications of doing so. I would describe myself as passionate, others might disagree and call it aggression. I share these things because they are real, I am real and deep down my intent is never to dismiss someone although it does happen. I’m working on a balance of passion, coupled with mutual respect. I want to be an obedient listener and an obedient child of God. Another example of “poor listening” comes from preemptively deciding the end of a conversation before actually hearing the whole story. Oh, I’m working on patience too. The love that God offers is perfect and pure, two things that are rarities here in this world. Nouwen was so right when he said that “we seldom experience love without it being tainted by jealousy, resentment, revenge and hatred.” I whole heartedly believe it’s possible to love without these negative connotation. I have had a few relationships in which some of these traits overshadowed their longevity, but after all, we are human. I think before tonight I might have described them not working out as, “God’s will,” but now I see them differently. Could it be we simply grew apart, we wanted different things out of life, or we just weren’t the people we thought we were? No blame or fault? It’s so much easier to point the finger at someone or cast blame on for this or that. I know I share some responsibility or in some cases most of the responsibilities in these relationships that ended. The single most important thing I would share with everyone about relationships would be…honestly. Fear kept me from my truth and telling the truth. I may have not always understood the how’s/why’s of life, but the after’s…the part where the lessons are learned, God was there. The truth is he had been by my side every single step, I just failed to notice. I am a better person by experiencing difficult roads, perhaps it’s in preparation for what’s to come.
“We tend to doubt what presents itself to us as love and are always on guard, prepared for disappointments…”(4).
Jesus wants us to be able to share in the same intimacy that he has with the Father, he wants us to share in divine obedience. “When obedience becomes our first and only concern, then we too can move into the world with compassion and feel the suffering of the world so deeply that through our compassion we give new life to others.”(5).
Thank you for stopping by my blog post today, may God reveal himself to you in a meaning way today. Listen for his voice in birds singing, in the trees swaying, in the bubbling streams, and in the smiles of a stranger. 😁 Our hope is in Jesus Christ!
Lenten M•I•C•R•O Practice for today:
~ Traditional Fast – Day 27
Partake of only full meal today. Some food is permitted at breakfast and around midday or in the evening – depending on when you choose to eat your full meal.
🔸 Prayer 🔸
you know our weakness and distress.
Yet the weaker we are,
the stronger is your help.
Grant that we may accept with joy and gratitude
the gift of this time of grace,
and bear witness to your work in our lives.
~Charlotte, the Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.
Show Me The Way — Henri J.M.Nouwen • 1992 The Crossroad Publishing
(1) Show Me The Way — Henri J.M.Nouwen • 1992 The Crossroad Publishing • Page 95, paragraph 1.
(2) Show Me The Way — Henri J.M.Nouwen • 1992 The Crossroad Publishing • Page 95, paragraph 2.
(3) Show Me The Way — Henri J.M.Nouwen • 1992 The Crossroad Publishing • Page 95, paragraph 3.
(4) Show Me The Way — Henri J.M.Nouwen • 1992 The Crossroad Publishing • Page 95-96, paragraph 3, 1 respectively.
(5) Show Me The Way — Henri J.M.Nouwen • 1992 The Crossroad Publishing • Page 96, paragraph 3.
(NIV) New International Version Bible/Translation
(NRSVA) New Revised Standard Version Apocrypha
(NJBV) New Jerusalem Bible Version/Translation