Yesterday, I met up with a friend for coffee. Dan is a DenSem student studying spiritual formation and whether he knows it or not, he is well on his way to becoming an academic. Dan and I have met for coffee or lunch for years. We have traveled the world twice, to India and Israel. Our relationship started as pastor and member, moved to mentor and mentee and now we are friends and brothers. When we meet up for coffee our conversations are always about life, faith, theology and the collision of the Holy with the human.
In our conversation yesterday Dan dropped two great quotes that gave us both pause to think and reason dialogue. The first is from an unknown source (at least to us) and we are not even sure we have it correct, but it goes,
“Trust not in your ability to listen,
but in God’s ability to speak.”
As we thought about this quote we commented on how much our faith traditions have pushed the responsibility for growth, direction and wisdom onto the participants and the not the perfecter of faith (Heb. 12:2). As Christians we remarked at how much weight we bear in our relationship with God. This, however, is not how it should be. God reached out for us. God came to us. God gave grace as a gift. This does not negate the role of the believer, but reminds us of our proper place.
Dan’s second quote of the morning was from a Frenchman named Father Dominic (Dominique) Voilaume, a friend of Brennan Manning,
“All that is not the love of God has no meaning for me.
I can truthfully say that I have no interest in anything
but the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
If God wants it to, my life will be useful through my word and witness.
If he wants it to, my life will bear fruit through my prayers and sacrifices.
But the usefulness of my life is His concern, not mine.
It would be indecent of me to worry about that.”
Argugggh! These words sting and bite at my ego. They push so hard against my need to be influential in/for the kingdom of God. “But the usefulness of my life is His concern.” This is a reminder that I am at the mercy of the Creator of the universe and I serve at his good pleasure. Maybe these words should speak to the uselessness of our lives being God’s concern too, because that is a full and real possibility from our perspectives. To be used by God to build his kingdom is a good and noble hope, but misguided all the same. Scripture nowhere tells us to build the kingdom of God. We are called to faithfully live in and live out the the kingdom of God. Should God choose to make us prominent in his kingdom, then so be it. Should he choose to make us insignificant, then so be it as well! Voilaume’s quote reminds me of my place, although a beloved child of God, a child nonetheless. It would be indecent of me to worry about that.