I Protest – Reaching Out Blog #15

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

Proverbs 24:11-12

“It would be paralyzing to proclaim that we, as individuals, are responsible for all human suffering, but it is a liberating message to say that we are called to respond to it.  Because out of an inner solidarity with our fellow humans the first attempts to alleviate these pains can come forth.” (Nouwen)

This book has been filled with “ouch” moments.  If you’ve come this far in this series of blogs I hope you have already picked up this book for yourself.  You’re never too old or too young to be changed by God.

In the last blog we opened ourselves up to the suffering world around us.  We connected with humanity and realized we are all a part of the human race.  Nouwen calls this the “burden of reality.”  It’s impossible for us to truly bear this burden.  It’s too much.  And yet isn’t this what Jesus did on the cross?

Nouwen goes on to say, “When the answer to our world remains hanging between our minds and our hands, it remains weak and superficial.  When our protests against war, segregation and social injustice do not reach beyond the level of a reaction, then our indignation becomes self-righteousness, our hope for a better world degenerates into a desire for quick results, and our generosity is soon exhausted by disappointments.  Only when our mind has descended into our heart can we expect a lasting response to well up from our innermost self.”

That’s what it takes.  It takes our mind descending into our hearts.  It’s deep in our hearts where our own humanity connects with the humanity of those around us.  It’s where we understand the pain and suffering and form that “inner solidarity with our fellow humans.”

Perhaps this is why we avoid solitude so much.  Maybe this is why we fill our lives with constant entertainment and refuse to retreat within ourselves.  For it is deep inside that we will connect with a God who will call us to accountability.  And, perhaps worse, it is there that we will connect with the condition of our race.  It’s an open and dark closet in the dead of night.  It’s where the monsters under our bed come from.  It’s the chilly eerie feeling you get when you walk into a dark and unfamiliar space at night.  It’s where we are confronted with the human condition and it’s more than we can bear.

I’ve tried to cultivate a confrontational attitude in my life when it comes to fear.  If I find myself hesitant or fearful, I find another desire even deeper that rises to confront that which I dread.  If I fear the monsters under my bed, I find the desire to get down off the bed and crawl underneath to meet my foe.   If I am fearful of what I will find in the solitude of my heart, perhaps now is the time to delve deeper still.

As I’ve grown older I’ve begun to notice the difference between the average person and the world-changer.  There are some who are able to step past indecisiveness and move to action.  Many are capable of doing something significant in life but those who actually do are the ones who decided to do something about it.  It sounds redundant but that’s only because it’s just that simple.

Here is the hope in what Nouwen talks about:  if I’m willing to connect with God and my own fallen race I will find the strength to do something about it.  It is there that I will connect with the very heart of God – a heart that wants desperately to save the human race from sin and is willing to do whatever it takes, even though it would cost Him His one and only Son.

Many times I’ve seen a need but didn’t do anything about it.  Maybe the solution required more from me than I thought I could give.  Maybe I was too afraid of getting hurt emotionally or physically.    The cost was too great for me and I failed at serving my God because of my own fears.  What if I could face those fears just like the monsters under my bed or in my dark closet?  What if I chose to serve God fearlessly, set my eyes on the goal and ignored all that caused my hesitations?  What if I opened myself up to allow God to use me?  What am I so afraid of?

Jesus has already done more than any of us ever could to help the human race.  He’s paid the price.  And, if we are willing to let Him, He will use us to reach out to the suffering around us in a tangible and human way – fully human by the power of God.

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2 thoughts on “I Protest – Reaching Out Blog #15

  1. These blogs always dig so deep and cause so much inner searching that by the time I am ready to comment, there is always another issue to confront. This particular post is something I have thought about a lot lately. It leaves me feeling weak and guilty, but like you said, “What am I afraid of?” Mostly having to give of myself too much and get way far out of my comfort zone, and not wanting to be an enabler for those who don’t care to help themselves. All excuses, I know. I am working on it, but I guess it is no good until I actually step out and do it. I rationalize that when I was younger it was easier. I need to act on the wisdom I have about when to step out and when not to.

  2. So it takes meaningful engagement and not just a knee-jerk reaction to the needs around us. The mind and the heart together – I like that thought. Too often we divorce our mind from our heart or the mind from the heart. We often hear of someone with a “pastor’s heart” or a “servant’s heart” and perhaps feel we could never do that. The answer for that is in the connectedness (my grammar checker does not like that word) we really want with God. And that only comes through His Son Jesus. It is our connection with God that makes possible a more heartfelt connection with our fellow humans. Even world-changers start out with one person at a time. The small, single instances develop into the larger more noticeable events. There is the old saying that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Also, I believe you and Nouwen are right that the strength or power to do/connect with humanity comes from the acting out on a God-given desire to touch the lives of others in a positive way. How more positive can you get than to lead/point them to a relationship with God. Doing these things is faith in action. I like to think of it as the flip side of the same coin. If you believe but do nothing do you really believe? On the other side, if you do but believe nothing what is the value of the doing? Hope I am not too far out in left field with this one.

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