Life of the Beloved

So, I'm reading this amazing book by Henri J.M. Nouwen called "Life of the Beloved." The subtitle is "Spiritual Living in a Secular World." I originally bought it for my husband because he works in an office filled with completely secular, anti-Christian people who give him a hard time about his faith and morals constantly. I do think it will help him in that regard -- not to "win" the argument, as so many books for the Christian "in the world" tend to teach, but to be Jesus to these people. Unfortunately for him, he's not going to get anything out of the book for a couple of days because I won't put it down.

I'm only on page 49, but so far, I have been both convicted and uplifted. Nouwen, a Catholic priest, wrote the book as a love letter of sorts to a secular Jewish friend who kept asking him to explain the hope he had. I believe the letter, while completely appropriate for the audience it was intended for, speaks even more loudly to those of us with a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.

Nouwen speaks of self-rejection and the traps of success, power and money as one and the same -- the former being the impetus for people to seek the latter in a futile effort to alleviate the pain. On page 35, he says:

"Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: "May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fill my deepest desire." But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death."
But, he continues:

" ... you and I don't have to kill ourselves. We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us. That's the truth of our lives. That's the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That's the truth spoken by the voice that says "You are my Beloved."
Friends, we ARE the Beloved. God knew and loved each of us before he formed us in our mothers' wombs. He has a plan for each of us, and a plan for all of us, together. He knows us, and loves us, right where we are at this very moment. He loves who we're going to be. And that's where our worth comes from. Not from striving or success or figuring it all out. Just from being created and loved by God. Praise Him for His mercy!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jan from Nicaragua and Sonlight says:

I have this book on my bookshelf! Thanks for motivating me to read it, and thanks for your contemplative thoughts...

10/22/2005 01:29:00 AM  

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