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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

poignant words from Henri Nouwen...and longing for eternity

Let these words soak into your soul, all you who are thirsty and longing, loving and aching, hoping and mourning, believing and doubting...

"Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our life. It seems that there is no such thing as a clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is the fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance. And, in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness....But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched with a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy no one shall take away from us." -Henri J. M. Nouwen

I can't get enough of Nouwen's beautiful words...they describe the human heart with intense and real reflection. If you haven't picked up any of his books before, find a bookstore this weekend and get your hands on one. You won't regret it!

Some days I long for heaven, and my chest seems to pound with a beat that does not fit with the tune here...the melody is playing elsewhere in a far-off land...a land with a King who is pure light and whose glory is unfading. There is something I yearn for that nothing in this gorgeous earth can satisfy...that something is the glory of eternity, and trying to see it is like trying to look through the fog in an autumn morning field where you have not been before...you just know there is something beyond that awaits, but you cannot put your finger on it, or even try to comprehend its existence. My mortal body with all its imperfections and silly aches just knows that one day all things will be made new, and there will be this wedding feast, this dance, this song, this consumation of all eternal joy...and my heart almost skips a beat trying to imagine this incredible reality!

So we long, we wait, we hope, we expect, we doubt, we believe, we press on, we hold on, we walk, we imagine, we live in the light of grace until that day we are ushered into His glorious presence...

and in the meantime? There are wars, and rumors of wars. There are earthquakes and orphans. There are tides flooding and widows mourning. There are conflicts and abuses. There are corruptions and masks. There are lies and blows that we do not want to deal with...but we have to deal with them. We are left with few options, but let's face it: We can try to ignore and shut out our world. We can embrace our world. Or we can somehow paradoxically live in the world, but be not of the world. Option number three is the one Jesus calls us to choose...

The other day I was recording a song I wrote called "Between the Lines" and as I sang this one part of a verse, my mind raced to scenes of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Uganda, Nepal, China and elsewhere...and even here in the United States...yes, even here. To give a little background, the song is about leaving a legacy in this life, as we live in the light of eternity. Our lives are short, fragile, and unpredictable. Every day we have the choice to love, to live fully, to give ourselves up because Christ gave himself for us...I believe we who are in Christ are called as the Ecclesia to leave fingerprints of joy and radical love everywhere we go, on every person we meet and touch. The song is a reminder- a call to wake up, for we know not when our final hour may be. And when we are gone, what will they say? What will people remember? My prayer is that it is not my name that will be remembered, but it will be the holy, marvelous, saving Name of Jesus Christ that will be engraved on human hearts after I am gone...May my brief moment here on earth leave a legacy that doesn't just touch our planet, but has eternal ramification on lives. I want to celebrate at that wedding feast with all the beautiful faces and hearts that I embraced on earth. I want not one to be missing. I cry prayerfully for every soul to know the saving power of Jesus Christ...that you, my friend, might know the victory and eternal weight of glory that awaits!

Back to the song...there's a line that goes "We walk forlorn just hoping for something more...no longer just for here and now the city streets are full of crowds expectant of a landmark royal scene. We watch and wait and push and shove, we make some names for ourselves that come to no meaning in the end..." Nations are in turmoil, they are in uprising...you can see it on TV every day you turn on the news, or read it in the papers...the mobs are growing... they really are! And yet, there is nothing new under the sun. Mobs have always been and forever will continue...until that day. That marvelous day when peace shall inhabit the hearts of all men, and we will be free in the presence of our Maker, our King, our One and only Hope. The unrest of this world, the calamities of our hearts will find rest and be calm in Him. Jesus- we long for Jesus. Even when we do not admit it, there is only One who can answer our lonely cries at night, only One who can make sense of the chaotic rush of the mornings, only One who can bind in Mercy our troubled, broken pasts. The lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. The resurrected King of glory.

Can you feel the beat? Is your heart pounding? Ohh, how I ache and cry for that day! And as I wait, I pray that each and every day here will be filled with beautiful, simple offerings given to Christ. Little touches of love that I might I reach out to my fellow journeyers on this unpredictable road. I want to offer my life as a living sacrifice, because there is a far-surpassing glory that awaits in comparison to the light and momentary afflictions of this conflicting world. When the books are opened and when they are read- the accounts of our lives for all of eternity to see- may the stories be filled with glimmers of love and sacrifice. May it be that our hands have reached out to those in need with the grace of Jesus. Between the lines of the paragraphs in those books, may there be a mysterious love that binds all the pages together by the Triune God.