Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Learning the Secret of My Own Nothingness

Yellow Springs, Ohio
When I sent the 22 Payne Theological Seminary students out to pray for an hour this afternoon I asked them to leave their cell phones behind. Because one of the things God wants to do is free us from the illusion of our indispensability. I am not needed as much as I might like to think I am.

Yes, God loves me. No, God does not need me. I need God, and God wants to use me in his kingdom activity. But God does not need me to get the job done. It is a very good thing, spiritually, to know this.

Thomas Merton writes:

"We must long to learn the secret of our own nothingness (not God's secret first of all, but our own secret). But God alone can show us our own secret. Once we see it, we can seek to receive His love into our hearts, and we can desire to become like Him. Indeed, by His love we can begin to become like ourselves - that is, we can find our true selves, for we are made in His image and likeness." (Merton, quoted in Henri Nouwen, Encounters with Merton, 36)

I am important to God. I can be used by God as my self diminishes and God's being fills me and moves me. This is important because what people need is not me, but God. God is the Indispensable One, not I. People need the Lord, not moi. God is life's raison d'etre. One result of realizing this is that I become free of striving to make some name for myself or to establish myself as some fleeting object of admiration.