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Have I ever mentioned that Henri J.M. Nouwen is one of my favourite spiritual writers? His words often speak wisdom and counsel, not to mention comfort, into my heart on days when I feel my ship is blown off course... or worse yet, caught on a sandbar or reef. He is expert at knowing how to get to the nub of issues ... and often I find myself nodding, Yes, you must be reading my mail. I understand....and thank you for bringing your own struggles out in the open so that I know I'm not alone in this.
This morning, I was dipping into his book The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. A folded piece of paper already marked the spot that had obviously been meaningful in a previous reading. As I read the piece again, I felt drawn to share a wee except here with you:
Keep Choosing God"You are constantly facing choices. The question is whether you choose for God or for your own doubting self. You know what the right choice is, but your emotions, passions, and feelings keep suggesting you choose the self-rejecting way.The root choice is to trust at all time that God is with you and will give you what you most need. Your self-rejecting emotions might say, 'It isn't going to work. I'm still suffering the same anguish I did six months ago. I will probably fall back into the old depressive patterns of acting and reacting. I haven't really changed.' And on and on. It is hard not to listen to these voices.
Still, you know that these are not God's voice. God says to you, 'I love you, I am with you, I want to see you come closer to me and experience the joy and peace of my presence. I want to give you a new heart and a new spirit. I want you to speak with my mouth, see with my eyes, hear with my ears, touch with my hands. All that is mine is yours. Just trust me and let me be your God.'
This is the voice to listen to. And that listening requires a real choice, not just once in a while but every moment of each day and night. It is you who decides what you think, say, and do. You can think yourself into a depression, you can talk yourself into low self-esteem, you can act in a self-rejecting way. But you always have a choice.... so move toward the Light, the Truth, and the Life."
This is what came to mind as I was typing the words above... how often do we fear the old ways will come back, that it isn't going to work this time, that because we're still suffering the same anguish, we'll probably fall back into our old patterns. But the perfect love of Jesus casts out fear. We do not have to be afraid of these things. The way I see it, it's the fear that causes us to stumble or fall.
Maybe we have missed it....again. But we don't have to stay there. As Henri Nouwen so beautifully puts it, we have choices. And today, I choose God. I choose to believe that even this area of current failure will one day be a radiant testimony that his grace is always enough....always!
With a gentle kiss atop thy heads,