“God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber
“The spiritual life is a reaching out to our innermost self, to our fellow human, and to our God.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen
The divine purposes connected to our earthly journey is a subject that has a way of capturing my thoughts for hours. Why are we here? Why now? What is this all about and what lessons must be learned along the way?
I’ve concluded that one of those many purposes deals with humbly understanding our own ego and the role it plays both in our humanity and in our spirituality. It’s what Henri Nouwen is referring to above when he describes “reaching out to our innermost self” – realizing how our human nature and human tendencies are often at odds with our spiritual nature – our “innermost self” and the essence of who we truly are deep inside.
I love this quote from Saint Francis De Sales: “Ego simply means, Edging God Out.” We can “Edge God Out” of our lives in so many obvious, distinctive ways, but I find it interesting how often we do so by means that are unconscious and unsuspecting. The idea of reaching out to God is one of them.
Ego would have us believe it is at the center of this activity and so would many religions. First, WE must act in a righteous manner – becoming worthy of reaching toward God in the first place. WE must pray, be repentant, remorseful, and especially reverent! After all, just like our own ego, God isn’t interested in anyone who isn’t perfect and subservient. If there’s any reaching out to be done, WE must do the reaching.
Many doctrines teach WE must believe FIRST in order for God to be a part of our lives. WE must act a certain way and think a certain way BEFORE WE can receive anything from God. WE determine how active and involved God is by OUR behavior and ideology.
As a result, many of us have become victims to this line of thinking. We believe God isn’t interested in our problems – especially if WE are at fault for their presence in our lives. This kind of guilt keeps us from reaching out during the times we need to most.
When I think about it, even this kind of guilt is a form of ego that is unsuspecting and goes unnoticed by us. It supports the idea that WE are behind the reaching out and there is nothing more false or more misleading than this idea.
Even the most indigent type of indifference toward God conjured up in the mind of an agnostic or atheist has little if any impact on the concept of reaching out. Why? Because reaching out has nothing to do with our ability, our decisions, or our behavior. Reaching out isn’t about us. Reaching out is who God is and who He will always be 😊
Even the religious who believe they are part of the “elect” due to their convictions are full of ego! Isn’t it Christ who is the “Author” and instigator of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)? My friends, we cannot take credit for our own beliefs as they have risen in our hearts by the touch of God! It is through this grace that we are saved through the faith He has started in us – not by anything we have done or instigated (Ephesians 2:8-9). God is doing the reaching out, not us! 😊
“For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” – Matthew 5:45 NLT
There is no “quid pro quo” when it comes to the Creator reaching down to us. Even the angels when announcing the birth of Christ proclaimed, “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Even the most profound unbeliever, clothed in the ego of his own self-defiance, cannot limit, or diminish a God who reaches out! No one is responsible for their own heartbeat, their healing, or their own sustenance. I love how Nadia Bolz-Weber reminds us of a God who is continually providing for us – even in our arrogance, our lies, and our selfishness. The Scriptures comfortingly proclaim that “He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14 NLT)
Tonight, I hope you think deeply about the kind of love our God has for us – a love that is enduring, steadfast, and consistent – not based on our wisdom to reach out or on our indifference not to do so. He is reaching out to EACH OF US not because of who we are but because of who He is 😊 May each of us take His lead and reach out to others – not based on who they are and how they treat us, but based on who we are as individuals.
“The LORD reached down from above and took hold of me; he pulled me out of the deep waters.” – 2 Samuel 22:17 GNT
“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” – Psalm 40:2 NLT
Thank you God for reaching out to all mankind! May each of us open up our hands and our hearts to His outstretched and boundless reach 😊