Daily Riches: What Drives Us (Henri Nouwen)

“When you keep going anxiously to the mailbox in the hope that someone [outside the monastery] …has thought about you; when you keep wondering if and what your friends are thinking of you; when you keep having hidden desires to be a somewhat exceptional person in this community; when you keep having fantasies about guests mentioning your name; when you keep looking for special attention from the abbot or any one of the monks …then you know that you haven’t even started to create a little place for God in your heart. When nobody writes anymore; when hardly anyone even thinks of you or wonders how you are doing; when you are just one of the brothers doing the same things as they are doing, not better or worse; when you have been forgotten by people – maybe then your heart and mind have become empty enough to give God a real chance to let his presence be known to you.” Henri Nouwen

Psalm 46 emphasizes God’s presence with us in chaos and crisis. We can relax in their midst (as Jesus did in his day) – receiving rather than grasping, and relinquishing control to God as a modus operandi. Our response in chaos and crisis, rather than being overwhelmed, can be to remember our limits and trust. The difference between striving, which here is condemned, and working hard, which elsewhere is commended, depends on what is in the head and heart in each case. Once might resemble the other, but the kind of peace found resting in God’s presence, striving cannot give. In its posture, pace, and motives, striving falls short. The mention of Jacob’s God is ironic since Jacob’s ‘preconversion’ name means ‘to grasp’ (cf. Gen. 25:26). It also encourages, since God condescends to use and bless Jacob – and by extension, us. This passage is my permission to ‘relax’ when it comes to work, finances, parenting, marriage – even spiritual formation. I can talk, walk and drive slowly. I can cease striving for control, healing, satisfaction, meaning, companionship, success and happiness – in other words, in all things.” William Britton

“Cease striving and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Yahweh of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Psalm 46:10,11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Life in a monastery doesn’t eliminates the desire to be exceptional, noticed and admired. Do such desires lead to striving in your life?
  • Can you differentiate between working hard and striving?
  • Are you learning to “relax” as Jesus did in the midst of chaos and crisis?

Abba, the “God of Jacob” is perfect for me.

For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen

_________________________________________________

If you liked this, please share it! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Crucible of Interruptions (Mark Buchanan and Walter Rauschenbusch)

“Jesus … lived life with the clearest and highest purpose. Yet he veered and strayed from one interruption to the next, with no apparent plan in hand other than his single, overarching one: Get to Jerusalem and die. Otherwise, his days, as far as we can figure, were a series of zigzags and detours, apparent whims and second thoughts, interruptions and delays, off-the-cuff plans, spur-of-the-moment decisions, leisurely meals, serendipitous rounds of storytelling. …Purposefulness requires paying attention, and paying attention means … that we make room for surprise. We become hospitable to interruption. I doubt we can notice for long without this hospitality. And to sustain it we need … a conviction in our bones that God is Lord of our days and years, and that his purposes and his presence often come disguised as detours, messes, defeats. ‘I came to you naked,’ Jesus says. ‘I came to you thirsty.’ ‘When, Lord?’ we ask, startled. When He wore the disguise of an interruption. Think a moment of all the events and encounters that have shaped you most deeply and lastingly. How many did you see coming? How many did you engineer, manufacture, chase down? And how many were interruptions? The span between life as we intend it and life as we receive it is vast. Our true purpose is worked out in that gap. It is fashioned in the crucible of interruptions.” Mark Buchanan

“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro … and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness … and he looked, and behold, [a] bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’” Exodus 3:1-3

Moving From Head to Heart

  • What if Moses hadn’t “turned aside?”
  • Imagine yourself living as Jesus did, with “zigzags and detours …” etc. How would that feel?
  • Can you become more hospitable to what happens in “the [vast] span between life as you intend it and life as you receive it?”

Abba, “Grant us, we pray you, a heart wide open to all this joy and beauty, and save our souls from being so steeped in care or so darkened by passion that we pass heedless and unseeeing when even the thornbush by the wayside is aflame with the glory of God.” Walter Rauschenbusch

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

_________________________________________________

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: Adjusting to God’s Slowness (Tertullian, Pete Scazzero, Pope Francis and Dan Allender)

“Impatience is, as it were, the original sin in the eyes of the Lord. For, to put it in a nutshell, every sin is to be traced back to impatience. I find the origin of impatience in the Devil himself. …When the Spirit of God descends, patience is His inseparable companion. If we fail to welcome it along with the Spirit, will the latter remain within us at all times? As a matter of fact, I rather think the Spirit would not remain at all.” Tertullian

“Tertullian expounds on a truth we rarely talk about – i.e. God’s nature to be patient. …Tertullian’s exhortation on patience keeps me anchored in peace and joy since the realization of goals almost always take much longer than I expect.” Pete Scazzero

“I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time.” Pope Francis

“God is not bound by time, nor is our story. We desperately want our situation solved. We want resolution. But God unfolds the plot in his own time. It is in our months or years of waiting that our story comes to maturity. It is over a lifetime of stories that he turns our desire toward him.” Dan Allender

“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering,
take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
James 5:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • “When the Spirit of God descends, patience is His inseparable companion.” Are you a patient person?
  • Do you allow for the fact that “the realization of goals almost always takes much longer than you expect?”
  • Are you wary of “decisions made hastily?” of the “first decision?” What does this look like in your actual experience?
  • Do you know how to look “deep into yourself” so that you act with an awareness of your unconscious motives?
  • Is there a spiritual discipline you can devise to help you develop a slower, more aware approach to decision making?

Abba, here it is, yet another reason for me to learn to slow down.

For More: To Be Told by Dan Allender

_________________________________________________

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.”