(this is a re-post from March 2010. writing about seasons of prayerlessness and forgetting God and started thinking about it.)
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.”
Romans 8:1 (NIV)
I was introduced to the writings of Henri Nouwen through the writings of Philip Yancey and I’m finding in Mr. Nouwen a trait I gravitate to in writers: The willingness to be open about their weaknesses and the courage to publicly share their questions about God. When I read authors who allow me to see their confusion and doubt and take me with them, through their writing, to explore the possibilities, I am the better for it. They make me think about things outside my relatively tiny little world. And I believe that God, through these writers, sometimes teaches me what my life looks like through His eyes. Henri Nouwen is a case in point.
Nouwen, in seeking to answer the question, “What do we really desire?” believes the word “communion” seems to best summarize the desire of the human heart:
“Communion means ‘union with.’ God has given us a heart that will remain restless until it has found full communion. We look for it in friendship, in marriage, in community. We look for it in sexual intimacy, in moments of ecstasy, in the recognition of our gifts. We look for it through success, admiration, and rewards. But wherever we look, it is communion we seek . . .”
The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life
My favorite coffee mug reads, “That which is good to know is difficult to learn.”
Ain’t it the truth?
Why is this so difficult to learn? Why is it so difficult to remember that these temporary distractions stand in the way of experiencing the communion with God that really satisfies and fills me with the peace of God I crave?
Because I forget God.
And I am not alone. Look at the Israelites. Time and time and time again, they forgot God. And I’m no better. I forget God. And when I do, what do I do? I can stand around paralyzed by guilt and whine about the fact that I forgot Him AGAIN, or I can repent, confess and come back. I choose to hurry up and come back. Time’s a wasting! I don’t want to lose one minute of communion with God because I’m too busy beating myself up for something Jesus died for. This is why God sent His son. He KNEW we would forget. He KNEW we needed Grace.
And I gratefully accept His Grace. So I repent and come back into communion with Him. But I know I’ll forget Him again. And. So. But. Repeat.
C.S. Lewis talked about the fall of man in the book “The Problem of Pain“. He acknowledged that while most of us think of the “fall of man” as an event, something that happened in the Garden of Eden, he also sees the fall of man as something that happens daily. It’s a, sometimes moment by moment, falling away from God’s presence. He wrote:
“at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or are repenting it.”
Ain’t it the truth?
I can also identify with Jack’s daily determination stay in communion with God:
“We try, when we wake, to lay the new day at God’s feet; before we have finished shaving, it becomes our day and God’s share in it is felt as a tribute which we must pay out of our own pocket, a deduction from the time which ought, we feel to be ‘our own.’
Since I don’t shave every day, I’m wondering how much faster I take my day back than Jack did. Do I claim my day for myself before my feet even hit the floor? I’m thinkin some days – YES.
But by the grace of God, when I remember Him, the immediacy of my repentance and return is prompted by a quote from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence:
“When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, “I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.” Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it. “ (emphasis added)
I’ve forgotten God. I forgot Him yesterday. I forgot Him earlier today. And I will forget Him again. I will fall away from His presence. Again. Even after having experienced the profound peace and contentment from communion with God, I will instead strive after the temporary distractions Henri Nouwen described. But, when I remember HIM again and I recognize my God-given desire for communion with Him, I will come back and by His Grace, I will “give myself no further uneasiness about it.”
What blocks forgiveness is not God’s reticence,
-‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him
and was filled with compassion for him’ – but ours.
God’s arms are always extended; we are the ones who turn away.
What’s So Amazing About Grace?