Saturday, March 12, 2011

In Him You Are Beloved

Over the past couple of days of my Lenten journey voices have been screaming into the ears of my heart “You are not enough. Who you are in God’s Eyes matters less than who men and women think you are.” And again, “You are what you do. And what you do for God, this thing you call ‘prayer’, and the life you lead, this thing you call ‘contemplative’ is just so much worthless, contemptible nonsense.”

This morning I was talking about this inner hurricane of voices with Will, a friend mine, a man whose walk with the Lord is as steady as any man’s walk I have ever seen, and whose words to me very often carry with them grace and mercy straight from Our Father in Heaven.

In response to my struggles Will read out loud a paragraph from Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son. I want to share the paragraph with you. To set context I’ll begin with the paragraph just prior to the one Will read to me.

Here’s Nouwen:

Sensing the touch of God’s blessing hands and hearing the voice calling me Beloved are one and the same. This became clear to the prophet Elijah. Elijah was standing on the mountain to meet God. First there came a hurricane, but God was not in the hurricane. Then there came an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Then followed a fire, but God was not there either. Finally there came something very tender, called by some a soft breeze and by others a small voice. When Elijah sensed this, he covered his face because he knew that God was present. In the tenderness of God, voice was touch and touch was voice.

But there are many other voices, voices that are loud, full of promises and very seductive. These voices say, “Go out and prove that you are worth something.” Soon after Jesus had heard the voice calling him the Beloved, he was led to the desert to hear those other voices. They told him to prove that he was worth love in being successful, popular, and powerful. Those same voices are not unfamiliar to me. They are always there and, always, they reach into those inner places where I question my own goodness and doubt my self-worth. They suggest that I am not going to be loved without my having earned it through determined efforts and hard work. They want me to prove to myself and others that I am worth being loved, and they keep pushing me to do everything possible to gain acceptance. They deny loudly that love is a totally free gift. I leave home every time I lose faith in the voice that calls me the Beloved and follow the voices that offer a great variety of ways to win the love I so much desire.

After hearing Nouwen’s words I told Will he had shared exactly what the Lord knew I needed to hear for the hurricane in my heart to subside. And subside it has.

Dear Reader, my hope and prayer for you is this: As you walk the Lenten journey through the desert of your own heart and hear the voices that will tell you in a million different ways “you are not enough”, may you remember that Christ has walked this Lenten journey before you. He has heard the same voices. He has fought the same fight. He walks with you now. He is THE Beloved. In Him you are Beloved too. And may the hurricane of voices that want to convince you otherwise go to the Hell from whence they came.

In the Beloved,
~ Friar Rex

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