Surrendering to God's love (Nouwen's Prodigal Son), post 3

For now, this is my final post on Nouwen's Prodigal Son and the journey toward God...

In the Prodigal Son, Nouwen articulates what the spiritual masters of the Christian tradition have been saying for centuries. We are not in complete control of our own spiritual transformation. There are certain things we can do -- like cutting out certain sins and taking up constructive disciplines like praying and serving and internalizing the Scriptures. But there is a hunger deep within us to live in close communion with God -- to know his heart and be caught up in his love for us and the whole world. Sometimes God allows us to visit this paradise, and we long to live there. But we cannot simply pack up our things and relocate. God has to bring us there. We have to surrender to a journey we cannot control or "make happen."

Here is how Nouwen describes the critical juncture in his journey when he moved into a deeper relationship of surrender to God...
Each little step toward the center seemed like an impossible demand, a demand requiring me to let go one more time from wanting to be in control, to give up one more time the desire to predict life, to die one more time to the fear of not knowing where it will all lead, and to surrender one more time to a love that knows no limits. And still, I knew that I would never be able to live the great commandments to love without allowing myself to be loved without conditions or prerequisites. The journey from teaching about love to allowing myself to be loved proved much longer than I realized.
After reading and appreciating other writings of Nouwen, this is the point where I feel we have finally linked arms. In the paragraph above, I suddenly realized that his journey is my journey. He has put into words what I am experiencing. It is the call to be close with God, and in a paradoxical way, surrender makes it all feel so much more possible. Contrary to standard evangelical assumptions, I can't configure a set of activities and work my way into making this happen. I am more in tune with John of the Cross, who taught that somewhere along the line, God will call us into greater passivity toward him. It's not indifference. It's surrender to the God of love.

This is the common journey God invites us all to take. What are our enemies on this journey? Control. Prediction. Knowing where it will lead. What are our friends? Surrender. Receptivity. Love. Inner quietness. 

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