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


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: Without Excuse or Defense Before God (Thomas Merton)

“ …we should let ourselves be brought naked and defenceless into the center of that dread where we stand alone before God in our nothingness, without explanation, without theories, completely dependent upon his providential care, in dire need of the gift of his grace, his mercy and the light of faith. …But when the time comes to enter the darkness in which we are naked and helpless and alone; in which we see the insufficiency of our greatest strength and the hollowness of our strongest virtues; in which we have nothing of our own to rely on, and nothing in our nature to support us, and nothing in the world to guide us or give us light – then we find out whether or not we live by faith.” Thomas Merton

“I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne;
 and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Above him were seraphim, each with six wings:
With two wings they covered their faces,
with two they covered their feet,
and with two they were flying.
And they were calling to one another:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
At the sound of their voices
the doorposts and thresholds shook
and the temple was filled with smoke.
‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord Almighty.’”
 Isaiah 6:1-5

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine being “brought naked and defenceless … before God?” …“standing alone before God in your nothingness?” …feeling “undone” in the presence of God?
  • Why would Merton suggest that we not resist this? (“we should let ourselves be brought…”)
  • Teresa of Avila prayed, “Let me not be afraid to linger here in your presence will all my humanity exposed. For you are God – you are not surprised by my frailties, my continuous failures.” Can you use these words as the basis for a prayer of your own?

Abba, it’s dreadfully painful to have all my humanity exposed before anyone, including you. It’s in your presence though, that I am exposed yet safe. In spite of my all my humanity, may I linger before you today, presenting myself for healing – and may I do this without any attempt to lessen the pain by offering up explanations or excuses.


For More: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton


The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek God, and as he seeks you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)