Daily Riches: God … As He Really Is (Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen)

“So much depends on our idea of God. Yet no idea of God, however pure and perfect, is adequate to express God as God really is. Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about God.” Thomas Merton

“God cannot be understood; he cannot be grasped by the human mind. The truth escapes our human capacities. The only way to come close to it is by a constant emphasis on the limitation of our human capacities to ‘have’ or to ‘hold’ the truth. We can neither explain God nor his presence in human history. As soon as we identify God with any specific event or situation, we play God and distort the truth. We can only be faithful in our affirmation that God has not deserted us but has called us in the middle of all the unexplainable absurdities of life. It is very important to be deeply aware of this. There is a great and subtle temptation to explain to myself or others where God is working and where not, and when he is present and when not, but nobody, no Christian, no priest, no monk has any ‘special’ knowledge about God. God cannot be limited by any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants. . . After having done everything to make some space for God, it is still God who comes on his own initiative.” Henri Nouwen

“He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Isaiah 53:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The disciples lived with Jesus for over three years and didn’t understand him, and the people of Jesus’ day misunderstood and rejected him. How often to you think you miss God or misunderstand what God is doing in our world?
  • How would you characterize yourself to someone else? Does you idea of God tend to reflect your image?
  • Think about your theology of God. How does it reflect the place and time in which you live?
  • Is there something beneficial to knowing that we know God so imperfectly?

Abba, give me great pause when I’m tempted to box you in, or think I can define you or explain you – to myself or to others.

For More: Show Me the Way by Henri Nouwen

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Knowing and Not Knowing (Richard Rohr, Tobin Hart and Eugene Ionesco)

“Over-explanation separates us from astonishment.” Eugene Ionesco

“We need transformed people today, and not just people with answers. I do not want my too many words to separate you from astonishment or to provide you with a substitute for your own inner experience. We all need, forever, what Jesus described as ‘the beginner’s mind’ of a curious child. A beginner’s mind … is the best path for spiritual wisdom. Tobin Hart writes: ‘Instead of grasping for certainty, wisdom rides the question, lives the question…. When the quest for certainty and control is pushed to the background, the possibility of wonder returns. Wonder provides a gateway to wise insight.’ Incorporating negative and self-critical thinking is essential to true prophetic understanding. At the same time, we must also trust that we are held irrevocably in the mystery of God’s love, without fully understanding it. Alongside all our knowing, accompanying every bit of our knowing, must be the humble ‘knowing that we do not know.’ That’s why the great tradition of prayer is balanced by both kataphatic knowing, through images and words, and apophatic knowing, through silence, images, and beyond words. Apophatic knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way. Strangely enough, this unknowing is a new kind of understanding. We have a word for it: faith, a kind of knowing that doesn’t need to know and yet doesn’t dismiss knowledge either; a kind of knowing that doesn’t need to hold everything itself because, at a deeper level, it knows it is being held.” Richard Rohr

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly,
but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part;
then I will know fully,
even as I have been fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you on a “quest for certainty?” Can you relax and let God “fill in all the gaps” where mystery or paradox prevails?
  • Does “over-explanation” (“too many words”) interfere with your “inner experience” of God? Has extensive doctrinal explanation led to “transformation” for you?
  • Are you willing to admit mystery? Are you committed to living humbly as one who can “know only in part?”

Abba, don’t let me spoil my relationship with you by too much certainty or too many words.

For More: “A Story Bigger Than My Own” by Debie Thomas

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”