Friday, May 8, 2009

On Being a Child of God

Few writers “read me” better than the late Henri Nouwen, making me a little nervous whenever I pick up one of his books. He delivers penetrating insights into the spiritual life, challenging readers to consider the deepest motivations behind their actions. This can sometimes be a painful process for me. Page after page of his writing reminds me that I have been created and loved by God but often try to find my value and self-worth apart from God.

Nouwen wrote from experience. After becoming an accomplished, prestigious professor of religion at Harvard, Nouwen engaged in a life of “downward mobility,” leaving his teaching post and moving to Toronto to work with the mentally handicapped; not because he had anything to teach them, but because they had everything to teach him. For the first time in his life, Nouwen began to wrestle with what it meant to find his identity in Christ alone.

The story is told in his award winning book The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. In fact, the whole story never would have happened had Nouwen not become fascinated with Rembrandt’s famous depiction of the parable. He would spend hours staring at the painting, contemplating what God was trying to teach him. This reflection caught my attention:

“I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father? I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God."

Developing our intellectual gifts, not for the praise of others, but for the glory of God. I needed to hear that.

--Derek Melleby


LeeAnna1026 said...

Developing our intellectual gifts, not for the praise of others, but for the glory of God. I needed to hear that.

This Blog and most especially this last quote was really wonderful for me to hear. I am away this semester in Australia. We have a class that explores the impact America, it's culture, it's economy and all of it's effects on the on the globe, social justice issues, hospitality, politics, and so many other really involved topics. I am learning so much and I am really eager to share. I will do that throughout time but I find myself sometimes overwhelmed. I do not need to be overwhelmed because the Lord knows all I am learning and my heart to share...
So this was my long winded way of saying thanks for the site and thanks for the encouragement!

sergey said...


I am a Christian who studies Philosophy and it is difficult, not because Philosophy is hard, but because students who do not want to learn is hard.

I am learning the ugly truth that asking questions can cost one his grades.

I studied existentialism and Suicide and other things and because the ideas behind some of the philosophers were so messy, I had to ask questions.

I mainly deconstruct different theories and write essays on my deconstruction but sadly because I question the philosophy of today, I have cost my grade quite badly.

I face hostile people in my classes in the department of Philosophy because I always ask questions. I cannot tolerate people who do not question philosophy therefore people conform to ideas they may not fully understand. I, however, refuse to adopt ideas that seem sketchy.

Philosophy is a place of learning about knowledge but my classes are about learning ideas without questioning the knowledge.

In my classes, we do not discuss the ideas behind the idea but only the idea itself therefore we never really what we are learning.