Canaans Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Month: July 2010 (page 1 of 4)

July 31st

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love, is about knowing that we are truly loved.
Some people have had such oppressed lives that they need help to break free and to find their true selves. Sometimes they may need permission to explode: to let out their deepest emotions!  Henri discovered that the more love he could take in and hold on to, the less fearful he became. We too will find that as we know we are loved we can speak more simply, more directly and more freely about what is important to us, without fear of other people’s reactions.  We can also use fewer words, trusting that we can communicate our true selves even when we do not use a lot of words. The disciples had a sense of Jesus loving presence as they went out to preach. They had been with him and eaten with him and lived in connectedness with Him. It was from this connectedness that they could speak out with simplicity and directness, unafraid of being misunderstood or rejected.  The more we come to know ourselves-spirit, mind, and body- as truly loved, the freer we will be to proclaim the good news.

July 30th

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotion is on accepting our true identity as a child of God. Once we have settled in it, we can live in a world that gives us much joy as well as pain.  Our true identity that makes us free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame.  We belong to God and we are sent out into the world.  But we need guidance and people who can keep us anchored in our true identity. The temptation is to disconnect from that deep place in us where God dwells and to let ourselves be drowned in the praise or blame of the world.  But only God can fully dwell in that deepest place in us and give us a sense of safety. We must guard against the danger that we will let others run away with our sacred center.  It takes time to fully reconnect our deep hidden self with our public self, but gradually we become more fully who we truly are as a child of God. That is where our freedom lies.

July 29th

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotional is on the unique presence we each have in our community.  Different people have different ways of being present to their community and it is important that we know and claim our way.  Once we have this inner knowledge, it will help us decide what to do and what to let go of, what to say and what to remain silent about etc.  When we get exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, or run down, our body is saying that we are doing things that are none of our business. God does not require of us what is beyond our ability and leads us away from Him. God wants us to live for others and to live that presence well. Doing so might include suffering and fatigue but none of this would ever pull us away from our deepest self and God.  When we find our place in our community, we can be deeply present to the people around us and speak words that come from God in us. We need time and space to let His vision for us mature in us and become an integral part of our being.

July 28th

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotion is about the importance of allowing ourselves to be fully received. Giving ourselves to others without expecting anything in return is only possible when we know that we are unconditionally loved ( fully received) by God.

Every time we discover that we expect something in return for what we have given or are disappointed when nothing comes back to us, then we are made aware that we have not yet fully received.

Giving without wanting anything in return is trusting that all our needs will be provided for by the One who loves us unconditionally.  A lot of giving and receiving is more out of need than out of trust. What looks like a generous act may really be manipulation or a cry for affection or support. When we know ourselves as fully loved, we will be able to give according to the other person’s capacity to receive, and we will be able to receive according to the other person’s capacity to give. We will be grateful for what is given us without clinging to it, and joyful for what we can give without bragging about it. We will be a free person, free to love.

Don’t doze off

It has become more apparent to me lately that I must remain alert and vigilant in my walk with God.  This means that I am to keep my heart and mind focused on him.  There are times when it is easy to drift  into careless wanderings with my mind, that then begins to effect my heart, where my deepest desires reside.  So I encourage any man reading this blog today, not to get lazy, allowing your mind to wander.  If you allow yourself to listen to your heart, your deepest desires are for God.  Nothing else will satisfy.  I personally have been learning to focus on the beauty of the Lord. 

Listen to these words from Paul (Romans 13:11-14 – the Message).  “But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day to day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God.  The night is about over, dawn is about to break.  Be up and awake to what God is doing!……We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence…..Get out of bed and get dressed.  Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute.  Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!”

When it comes to our mind, the will become very important.  By now, those of you who read this blog, know that I have a concern for men trying to hard to be good, wanting to please God, by doing something about their salvation.  We have to be set free from this performance trap.  On the other hand, we do have a will, by which we make choices.  With the will we will determine the habits and disciplines that we will practice.

So when it comes to dozing off, we have to determine in our minds that we will not let ourselves relax and let down our guard.  Our practice daily should be that of putting on Christ.  We determine to want to follow and listen to Jesus.  This takes practice.  It becomes a habit.  If not, our minds drift and we waste precious time on thoughts that dull the awareness of God in our lives.  So brothers, let us not doze off.  As an act of your will ( picture it in your imagination) get up and put of Jesus.  You are his and he lives in you.  He will help you with your thoughts and responses to the challenge of your day. 

Don’t let your mind wander.  But when you do, don’t beat yourself up.  Get up, start again, by dressing yourself anew in Christ.  Ask him to give you the grace and strength to respond as he is leading you to respond.  Don’t “squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence.”

July 27th

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotion is about the inner pain of loving someone who is now gone from our lives. When the place where God dwells in us is connected with the place where God dwells in the other, the absence of the other person is not destructive. It will only challenge us to enter more deeply into communion with God, the source of all unity and communion among people.

 It is also possible on the other hand that the pain of absence will show us that we are out of touch with our deepest self. It may show us we need others for our inner wholeness and that we have become emotionally dependent on the other. We can see this played out if we don’t’ feel we can live if the other person is taken away.

But true love between two people puts us more in touch with our deepest self. It is a love in God.The pain we experience from the death or absence of the person we love, will call us into a deeper knowledge of God’s love.  God’s love is all we need, and it reveals to us the love of God in the other. So the God in us can speak to the God in the other. Death or absence does not end or even diminish the love of God that brought us to the other person. It calls us to take a new step into the mystery of God’s inexhaustible love. This process is painful, but the more we are stripped of the God-given support of others, the more we are called to love God for God’s sake.  God is enough!

July 26th

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotion is about daring to stand erect in our struggles and pain.  When we have loneliness, fears, or rejection we may get swept off our feet by these feelings. But we are called to acknowledge them and feel them while remaining on our feet. As we think of Mary, she stood under the cross and she suffered in her sorrow standing.  Jesus said to his disciples about disasters to come, “When these things take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” Luke 2:28.  We have to stand erect in our struggles and not yield to the temptation to complain, to beg, to be overwhelmed, or desire pity.  As long as we remain standing, we can speak freely to others, reach out to them, and receive from them. When we speak and act from our center and invite others to speak from theirs, we find real community and friendship. God will give us the strength to stand in our struggles and to respond to them standing!

July 24th

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotion is on loving deeply. We might be afraid of the pain that love can cause us. When we do love deeply those we love may reject us, leave us, die etc. But just because our heart may be broken doesn’t mean we should hold back. The pain that comes from deep love makes our love ever more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant. Every time we may experience the pain of rejection, we have a choice. We can become bitter and decide not to love again or we can stand in our pain and let the soil on which we stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.  The more we love and allow ourselves to suffer because of love, the more our hearts grow wider and deeper. Even if others leave us, when our hearts are truly giving and receiving, they will not leave our hearts…they will be part of ourselves and our inner community.  The wider our inner community becomes, the more easily we will recognize our brothers and sisters in strangers around us. Thus, the pain of rejection can become fruitful.  Yes, as we love deeply the ground of our hearts will be broken and more and more, but we can rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.

July 23rd

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book The Inner Voice of Love

Today’s devotion is on moving more towards Him and the freedom we have been searching for.  Sometimes we may feel we aren’t making progress and we feel so divided in our inner being, still needing approval and acclaim. We want to be completely dedicated to the Lord and go deeper into our heart and into the heart of God.   We can look at our life like a cone that becomes narrower the deeper we go. There are many doors in that cone and we may desire to close the door of immediate satisfaction,  the door of distracting entertainment, the door of busyness, the door of guilt and worry, or the door of self-rejection etc. As we do this we go deeper and we embody more and more the truth of our being; It makes us claim the God within us. We may be tempted to think that we are a nobody in the spiritual life and that are friends are far beyond us on the journey. But this is a mistake. We must trust the depth of Gods presence in us and live from there.

July 22nd

Devotions from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love

In each of us there is a vulnerable self that seems to be left behind very early in life. It’s the part of us that never felt completely received and so we used many survival skills.  We may complain that it is hard for us to pray and to experience God’s love. But He dwells in our fearful, never received self. When we befriend our true self and discover that it is good, we will see Jesus there. Where we are the most human, most ourselves, weakest, there Jesus lives. So we need to bring our fearful self home. If we keep it distant, it cannot show us its true beauty and wisdom and then we survive without really living. We may look to others to offer us some temporary comfort.  But we need to be patient and not let our fearful self run off. Let it teach us its wisdom; let it tell us that we can live instead of just surviving.  Let us celebrate that Jesus is living within us and offering us all we need, so we can be at peace.

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