By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Opening thoughts and basis for discussion
Purpose in Life – Living a Purposefully Orthodox Christian Life
A life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Not an occasional glance at each but rather a more meaningful and on purpose action in each area.
When we define the word purpose the following words come up: intention, aim, object, objective, goal, end, plan, scheme, target; ambition, aspiration. These definitions or synonymns are action based.
Reaching Our Full Potential
We don’t realize our full potential to be purposeful due to the trappings of this life but also because we really do not know how special we are to God according to Henri Nouwen. We are in God’s eyes the beloved.
It all stems from knowing who we are from the beginning of time. Jesus Christ’s baptism is a good place to start. We hear the voice of God at Jesus’s baptism, “You are my Son, the Beloved;my favor rests with you.” (Matt 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:21-22) The key words here are, You are my beloved.
What Voices Are You Listening To?
What are the voices of the world calling you? Beloved or not loved at all. True to heart or hypocrite. etc. When Henri Nouwen hears the word beloved this is what he hears. “I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for a child. Wherever you go I go with you, and wherever you rest I keep watch.
Has anyone ever expressed themselves to you in such a way? If yes, Glory be to God and if not, why not?
I don’t want you to waste to much of your time on silly things. I have fewer years behind me than ahead of me.
The journey of the spiritual life calls not just for determination but to also know the terrain you are traveling on. I don’t want you to get stuck somewhere and not be able to fend for yourself, free yourself and move towards our Lord.
It is our task our destiny to become one with God as we discussed last month. In the words of St. Augustine, “My soul is restless until it rests in you,O God”. We were innocent before we started to feel guilty; we were in the light before we entered into the darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home.
Becoming God like in a purposeful way takes more than determination. It means becoming vulnerable and asking God to enter your life and take charge. “Letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think do and say.
Words to Live By
Let’s talk now about four words that Henri Nouwen feels he lives his life by and frankly words that we would do good to live by as well.
Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given
St Theophan the Recluse: Exert all your strength, but rest your concern with success on God.”
Finally, “May your baptism remain as your shield, your faith as your helmet, your love as your spear, your patience as your armor.”