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: Transcending Obedience and Virtue (Walter Brueggemann)

“Job, and even more his friends, are models of ideological certitude. That kind of moral certitude, however, does not matter ultimately because we are not saved by our virtue. No one can stand in the face of the whirlwind on a soap-box of virtue. …Job learned what we all learn sooner or later. Virtue does not suffice. Integrity does not give life. Being right is no substitute for being amazed. Controlling will not substitute for yielding in awe and wonder and amazement. The shift to Job’s other language is practically urgent, as it is theologically imperative. The shift to doxology as a mode of life is theologically imperative because praise breaks our terrible idolatries. We live in a society of preferred virtues or convinced moralities, or exacting, relentless idolatries. As with Job, these idols of self-congratulations block healing, make us falsely at ease, prevent transformation, and reduce life to a set of slogans and technologies. The alternative good news of the poem [the book of Job] is that we are made for a second conversation that surprises us and that we can never anticipate. After our earnest behavior, we are invited to doxological yielding. The shift in language destabilized us, puts us at risk, debunks our control, eases our need to dominate, and lets us yield without pouting, submit without resentment, and receive as gift a new restlessness that is communion and praise. After the yielding lyric, we are like Job. We still must go home and live as virtuously as possible. We have, however, been decisively intruded upon, invaded, overwhelmed, reduced to stunned silence, taken seriously by eternity, and finally, like Job approved in our virtue (42:7-8).” Walter Brueggemann

“I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes
to show my repentance.”
Job 42:6

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If someone as admirable and exceptional as Job needed a “conversation” with God to change him and his perspective, how much more is this likely true of you or me?
  • Has your experience of God ever left you feeling “decisively intruded upon, invaded, overwhelmed, reduced to stunned silence?”
  • If not, are you open to an encounter with God that “destabilizes” you, and removes your sense of control, and where you “receive as gift a new restlessness that is communion and praise?”

Abba, in the face of the whirlwind may I never forget the importance of virtue – or the limitations of it in my life with you.

For More: Threat of Life by Walter Brueggemann

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)