This morning as I was drinking my cup of tea I read some true words from the book “The Return Of The Prodigal Son” by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I thought I’d type them out, in hopes that you might be encouraged as well.
Before I begin writing, I will say that recently I have noticed all of the sadness that seems to cover many people’s faces and lives. Yesterday I met a sweet couple and I realized I was so drawn to them because they actually smiled. – Maybe I’m beginning to see the sadness because I also feel the intense threat of joy being robbed from my soul. But I do ask, Is this the way we’re meant to live? They call Jesus A Man Of Sorrows, but He is also the life giver. I have some dear friends who have experienced genuine sorrow and yet there is joy because they have rested in Christ’s arms. I want to learn what they know; I want to truly discover how Paul could rejoice while in prison. I don’t want to just talk about God being the strength in my life, I want to experience this. Hmm… Ok well, enough of me, here are some words from the book…
TO whom do I belong? TO God or to the world?
Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A Little criticism makes me angry; a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirit and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat in the ocean, completely at the mercy of it’s waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival; not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.
I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love
And persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the beloved of my Father? I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking my gifts God has given me-
My health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, And put them in the service of an exploiting world that does not know their true value. It’s almost as if I want to prove to myself and to my world that I do not need God’s love, That I can make it on my own, that I want to be fully independent.
God has never pulled back His arms. Never stopped considering his prodigal son the beloved one. But the Father couldn’t compel his son to stay home. He couldn’t force his love on the beloved. He had to let him go in freedom, even though he knew the pain it would cause both his son and himself. It was love itself that prevented him from keeping his son home at all cost. It was love itself that allowed him to let hiss son find his own life, Even with the risk of losing it.
Here the mystery of life is unveiled. I am loved so much that I am free to leave home. The blessing is there from the beginning. I have left and keep on leaving it. But the Father is always looking for me with outstretched arms To receive me back and whisper again in my ear: “You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.”
One more thought:
Over a year ago I was at a friend’s concert. My heart was in turmoil over something. I was feeling so distant from God; really missing HIM. (Even though I knew that God says that He will never leave me or forsake me.) My heart was condemning me. After my friend’s concert, I went up and asked him what I should do. My friend wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear that God still loved me and that I was God’s and my friend prayed for me, still with his arms around me.
A few things – I grew up without tons of Physical affection- So my friend caught me off guard. I knew that this friend had no interest in me romantically. Really it was one of the most God-love moments in my life. Often I am reminded to God’s arms wrapped around me – how He whispers His love into my ear.
I know I’ve already typed enough today, but know that He loves you.
Much love to you,