"Once we clearly acknowledge the soul, we can learn to hear it's cries. - Dallas Willard, Renovation Of The Heart."

It takes courage to pursue our dreams. It takes time and patience to unearth buried treasure. But I believe with all my heart that we must do both.


Abiding Monday

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...................


S. Etole said...

What a powerful, engaging message ... thank you.

{I smiled at your comment about the cows and hay bales this morning!}

Emeila said...

I like your blog today. Thank you sharing

lori vliegen said...

God is everywhere......working everywhere.....and working through you! thank you for sharing this wonderful message, mary!! xox, :))
p.s. can i just tell you how incredibly crazy i am for your newly painted worktable?!!!! it's spectacular!!!! xo

Martha Lever said...

As always, a wonderful and very inspiring post! The Maya mist is another kind of spray ink--like Adirondack but I think the sprayer is finer and sprays much better. And the colors are great too.

Buffy said...

Thats what I love about the bible,all the stories about how God uses the most unusual people for the job,somebody who we would never think of,or use. Thanks for the reminder Mary.

Butterfly Works said...

Great Wisdom....goes to show us that God can use whoever He wants and who He finds available.....Back to that question, Am I available 24/7?
I love this book....

Hugs and Hugs Sweet Girl

Denise said...


Jennifer Richardson said...

Isn't that just the TRUTH! Funny how clever He can be....downright CREATIVE, even:) No matter how many ways you try to figure He'll do or say something, it's always a surprise! Always. I love how he can't be "figured" or manhandled or shoved into our boxes of reasonings and labels. Just love that He won't be pegged. It comforts me to know that He's more than the sum of all my grand ideas about Him. Not EVEN close. Leaves so much more scope for the imagination!

Thanks for sharing this, Mary!

DJ said...

Whew! I'm so glad HE'S in charge!
With that knowledge, I can rest in Him and enjoy my summer vacation...and remain open to His workings, instead of mine.
:-)Father, Use me today. Amen~

Francois said...

'God, ever at work in us and in the world, uses unlikely candidates.'

It's good to be reminded that I have to look toward God once in a while.
He has placed me in this world at this particular time and for a specific purpose that I may never fully comprehend. But isn't that the beauty of a surprising God?

Anonymous said...


I love this! It is right where I am right now. Two sentences stood out. The first one is this....

Instead, the life of faith is opening one's heart to the God of surprises.

God surprises me all the time. He loves to go "ta da".... Like what happened this week.

The second sentence that touched me is this one...

But always God uses only the humble, those who wait on God and who know that their hope and strength is in God alone.

I feel like I have been in Humbling 101 with the Lord as my teacher for the last few years. It is a tough class, but well worth taking.

Mary, I love abiding Mondays. Thanks for sharing, my friend.


Erin Butson said...

"Instead, the life of faith is opening one's heart to the God of surprises." yes I love this about God, that he is constantly at work in and around us, when we are available. "we wait with eager expectation..."
"Ours is the challenge of receptivity." So difficult to sit + wait, but so necessary.

Hindsfeet said...

What a timely word for me tonight....

...I came here by way of "Butterfly Works" after reading some of your responses to Nancy, and so glad I did....

This post answered some prayers of mine.....

Thanks so very much,

Bevie said...

Again my dear sister you have touched my heart!! I too love your Abiding Mondays, and know for sure God speaks thru and in you constantly...your spirit shines!!! love you sweetie.