There is a sign along an Alaskan highway that reads, "Choose your rut carefully.....You'll be in it for the next 150 miles." Author Henri Nouwen, in his book, In the Name of Jesus, admits to being in one of these ruts for well over twenty years. Judging from his life at the time, who could blame him for not wanting to change course. After all, he had the University of Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard on his professional resume. He had studied theology, mixed with courses in pastoral psychology and Christian spirituality. Henri Nouwen was comfortable and saw no compelling reason to seek a change. Until one day, he felt an internal discontent churning inside of him. Look at what he wrote:
"As I entered into my fifties and was able to realize the unlikelihood of doubling my years, I came face to face with the simple question, 'Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus?' After twenty-five years of priesthood, I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues.....something inside was telling me that my success was putting my soul in danger.....I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place and the term "burnout" was a convenient psychological translation for a spiritual death."
Nouwen asked the Lord to show him where He wanted him to go and he would follow. The Lord made it crystal clear to him that he should make a drastic change, leave everything that was familiar, comfortable and convenient and join the L'Arche communities for mentally handicapped people.
The lessons awaiting Nouwen were numerous: some painful, a few humiliating, but all of them necessary. Slowly, he experienced a change deep within himself. The master teacher learned to be the humble servant.....the self-confident, proud individualist became a compassionate, caring friend.
\nMost of us have no idea how deep or long our rut extends. Externally, everything looks fine. Our activities often revolve around church and Christian friends we love. We have meetings to attend, lessons to prepare and songs to sing. Who can criticize any of that? After all, there is a big job to get done. No one can question our faithfulness.
\nUnfortunately this rut of religious activity can numb our souls, until we find ourselves in need of spiritual refreshment--a fresh touch from God. We need to rediscover the renewed passion that once drove our spiritual lives. The kind of drive that propels us to change our old habits and ask God the same bold question asked by Professor Nouwen....."Tell me where to go, tell me what to do and I will follow." Are you ready to make a change? God might not be asking you to sell everything, move to a third world country and live among the poor, instead; he might simply be asking you to get out of your comfort zone, walk across the street and live among those who need the love of Jesus. Begin your journey by filtering out the essentials from the incidentals and see what God does.
\nJoin us this Sunday, as we look at Paul the sports fan and the training he endured in order to win the race and receive the prize of Christlikeness. Read Proverbs 3:12-21 and come ready to enter the race!
\nSee you Sunday.