I have read this excerpt from "The Seeking Heart" before, but with last weeks journaling about openness I read it with new eyes.
"The Vulnerable Ones - Strange agents of transformation"
Renewal, transformation, and healing can come to us in many ways and from many different sources. The body can heal itself. A secular university professor may, in fact, open a new thought and direction in our lives just as easily as a more "spiritual" source can.
While Christians believe that wholesome change can come through prayer, the sacraments, the hearing of the gospel, and the pastoral ministry of the church or their brothers and sisters in the faith, they also believe that blessings can and do come in many other ways. This is because they believe that God through the Spirit is wonderfully and mysteriously at work in the world. God works through the church but also in and through the world.
This makes the journey of faith a wonderfully open space. The Christian life has nothing to do with narrowing the arteries of one's inner being. Instead, the life of faith is opening one's heart to the God of surprises.
But this, of course, is more easily said than done. The surprises of God are often strange. And we may well be resistant to or completely miss seeing the good that comes our way. I remember, for instance, a work colleague who was stridently anti-religious. And yet, I realize now, he cared for me in many ways and challenged me regarding the way I as living my faith.
Nouwen has written about the way in which his care for Adam, a severely disabled person, became a ministry of receiving and not only of giving. Nouwen writes, "[In] his weakness he [Adam] became a unique instrument of God's grace. He became a revelation of Christ among us" He continues, "I am not saying that Adam was a second Jesus. But I am saying that because of the vulnerability of Jesus we can see Adam's extremely vulnerable life as a life of utmost spiritual significance."
That God uses unlikely people for his purposes is everywhere writ large in the biblical story: Moses the murderer. Amos a mere orchard worker, Mary an impoverished maiden. Simon the political radical and disciple of Christ.
While we may want the experience of God's unmediated presence - and those moments may be there, and we may want God's Spirit to bless us in the sanctuary - and that may well occur, God also has other ways to renew and transform us. To do the gracious work of inner rehabilitation that draws us into greater conformity to Christ and the wholeness that this brings, God, ever at work in us and in the world, uses unlikely candidates.
Seldom are the instruments of God's goodness the powerful of this world. More frequently God uses the vulnerable ones of the earth. But always God uses only the humble, those who wait on God and who know that their hope and strength is in God alone.
All of this poses a great challenge to the present ethos of many of our churches, where Christians still see themselves as powerful in resources and having much to give. As a consequence, dependency on God is not a characteristic posture. Ours is the challenge of receptivity. To enter more fully into the life that God seeks to give, we require an openness that will enable us to move slowly enough and to be close enough to the Adams of this world who God may use to draw us into greater love and wholeness.
From "The Seeking Heart, by Charles R. Ringma"
I am hearing, OPEN, OPEN, OPEN...................