Wandering Arameans, Henri Nouwen, and the Mystery of Grace

Then you are to affirm and declare in the presence of the LORD your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor, who went down to Egypt and traveled there with very few family members, yet there he became a great, powerful, and populous nation. – Deuteronomy 26:5

Not many gifts are more priceless to me than books, obviously well loved, previously owned by people who bear some sort of significance in my life. 

Most recently, following a traumatic therapy experience (yes, apparently it happens), I was given one such gift; a copy of Henri Nouwen’s secret journal, The Inner Voice of Love. 

It’s wonderful and challenging, and comforting and maddening; this collection of raw and anguished insights of a great spiritual writer’s mental and spiritual crisis. Nouwen refers to this time in his life as his “exile.”

Exile.

A painful separation from one’s home or native land, often by force; or in my case, a perceived separation from the love of God beginning early on, created from distrust and fueled by insecurity. 

Exile. A painful inability to fully feel, receive and embrace the love of God. 

The one year aniversary of my ordination is tomorrow. On that day one year ago, my dad preached a sermon on the mystery of grace. It was beautiful and affirmed my calling in such a poignant way. 

The poignancy lives on, after two weeks of intense emotions stirred by a childhood demon that should never have been disturbed; I am still called as a minister of God, I’ve just temporarily gotten in my own way. 

Tomorrow, I will step out of my way and invite the mystery of grace to live through me in a new way. The mystery of grace in my life is that there’s enough call left, and enough love to cover this minister even when I boldly cast blame on God for the monsters under my bed and destroying a childhood that could have been much easier. 

The mystery of grace lies in the fact that I am, after all that, held in God’s perfect love and gifted with the responsibility of sharing it with others. 

So, here I am, on the eve of my ordiversary; I stand at a crossroads between a post-exilic, anxiety-ridden survivalist existence and freedom. 

Like the wandering Aramean’s descendent and Henri Nouwen, I choose to tell my story in freedom. I choose to let my story be a thanks offering to God; and tomorrow as God and I spend some time together, I will affirm and declare to the Lord that God’s grace is sufficient, God’s love is enough, God’s redemption is sweet and true. 

Thanks be to God. 

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