I've been reading about five different books simultaneously and finally finished Lifesigns by Henri Nouwen. Near the end of the book he quoted Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche who said of teens in the 80's (Gen Xers!), "They feel powerless in the face of the enormous powers that rule the world. Twenty years ago young people believed they could do everything, and now they are convinced that it is impossible to do anything" Nouwen was addressing the problem of fear and how it keeps us from being fruitful, intimate and ecstatic in a spiritual sense. As a Gen-Xer I can relate to that statement. When I was becoming of age as an adult a whole slew of problems seemed dumped upon us: saving the whales, the hole in the ozone layer, the massive debt of our government, air and water pollution, species facing extinction, overflowing land-fills.... the list goes on an on with new problems being added daily: the AIDS crisis, cultural genocide, the "War on Terror", global warming, waning natural resources...
What are we supposed to do as individuals? I can't possibly fix all of those things or even a few of them. I am all for being part of solving these tough issues. However, it seems illogical to allow them to be my life's purpose; there must be some higher purpose in this life. For, in the end - no matter how great our efforts - we cannot control the actions of others; nor can we control the weather. Thus our efforts can only take us so far.
Earlier in the book Nouwen shares some profound insight regarding activism. He says, "All Christian action - whether it is visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or working for a more just and peaceful society - is a manifestation of the human solidarity revealed to us in the house of God. It is not an anxious human effort to create a better world. It is a confident expression of the truth that in Christ, death, evil, and destruction have been overcome. It is not a fearful attempt to restore broken order. It is a joyful assertion that in Christ all order has already been restored. It is not a nervous attempt to bring divided people together, but a celebration of an already established unity. Thus action is not activism. An activist wants to heal, restore, redeem, and re-create, but those acting within the house of God point through their action to the healing, restoring, redeeming, and re-creating presence of God."
I am to be a vessel.
I am to allow God and His love to flow through me; this is my choice, however. God won't force me to do anything. If I would rather spend my days being paralyzed by fear then God will allow me to do that. I know that this kind of order exists when I see the ways in which God works and heals through His love and grace. I don't fully know how, even though I keep asking and yearning to understand more of God and His order.
When I reject taking part in God's order, I am an anxious, selfish, petty, prideful fool.
When I do take part in His order, I am the person that I was created to be.
I may be powerless but He is not and His power is at work within me.
I so needed the peace and hope of that reminder.
Sometimes I must consciously seek to jump into God's existing order. I pray, along with angels who are presently in chorus:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is,and is to come;
Holy, holy,holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come;
Holy, holy,holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come...
That is but one layer of the pattern but it is a place where I can jump in and take part.