Monday, October 1, 2012

God does not say, "I love you, if . . ."

Father Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996), a Dutch-born Roman Catholic priest and writer, helped many people of different backgrounds to understand how walking with God can make a real difference in our day to day lives. His books include The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved and The Way of the Heart. After nearly two decades of teaching at the Menninger Foundation Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, and at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Harvard University, he went to work with mentally challenged people at the L'Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. One of his most famous works is Inner Voice of Love - A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom, his diary from December 1987 to June 1988 during one of his most serious bouts with clinical depression. 

It is possible to sign up to the Henri Nouwen Society and receive a short paragraph from his works every day in your email. Go HERE.

This passage on the love of God is from his book Bread for the Journey: 

There are no "ifs" in God's heart. God's love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God's love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God's love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances. 

Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God's love wouldn't be real if God didn't care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return. 

As you see more clearly that your vocation is to be a witness to God's love in the world, and as you become more determined to live out that vocation, the attacks of the enemy will increase. You will hear voices saying, "You are worthless, you have nothing to offer, you are unattractive, undesirable, unlovable." The more you sense God's call, the more you will discover in your own soul the cosmic battle between God and Satan. 

Do not be afraid. Keep deepening your conviction that God's love for you is enough, that you are in safe hands, and that you are being guided every step of the way. Don't be surprised by the demonic attacks. They will increase, but as you face them without fear, you will discover that they are powerless. 

When we keep listening attentively to the voice calling us the Beloved, it becomes possible to live our brokenness, not as a confirmation of our fear that we are worthless, but as an opportunity to purify and deepen the blessing that rests upon us. Great and heavy burdens become light and easy when they are lived in the light of the blessing. 

"Do not be afraid," the Lord says to his disciples. "It is I. Fear is not of God. I am the God of love, a God who invites you to receive--to receive the gifts of joy and peace and gratitude of the poor, and to let go of your fears so that you can start sharing what you are so afraid to let go of." 

The invitation of Christ is the invitation to move out of the house of fear and into the house of love. God says, "I love you with an everlasting love," and Jesus came to tell us that. The God who loves us is a God who becomes vulnerable, dependent in the manger and dependent on the cross, a God who basically is saying, "Are you there for me?" 

God, you could say, is waiting for our answer.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou this has been most helpful under our present circumstances....Please pray for us...+++

Anonymous said...

In 1996, I was living in Aurora, Ontario: just a short drive from l'Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill, Ontario: the home of Henri Nouwen. As head of the Christian Education committee at my parish, I decided to invite Fr. Nouwen to speak to our Anglican church in Aurora: Trinity Aurora. I regret to say that I was never able to meet Fr. Nouwen: the news came that he had died whilst on a journey to the Netherlands, but the very knowledge of what he had done: what he had left behind him, and the challenges that he had faced, and overcome, had never left. Fr. David Marriott SSC

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