Chapter 4 Conversion
The Spirit of love says: “Don’t be afraid to let go of your need to control your own life. Let me fulfill the true desire of your heart.”
Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 59). The Crossroad Publishing Company.
The idea of conversion is transformation, or a change, from one way of being evolving to another way of being. Since we are saddled with our human nature, a basic nature that seems to value our own opinion over God’s opinion, we are in a constant uphill journey or tension with our Father and our neighbors. The old saying “Father knows best” is certainly true when we recognize God as our Father. The only true and lasting satisfaction we find in this world is through acknowledging that we are in God’s Kingdom. Knowing our King is all wise, two questions loom: What does God want us to do?; How do we do it?!
Gracious God, Peal back the hard layers of pain that calloused our lives. Help us to enter Your presence bathed in love and safety. Help us to see You and Your Spirit within our very hearts as well as Your Kingdom around us. Help us to be obedient servants. Often, our hardest job is letting go of our own thoughts and adopting Yours. Clarify Your will, reveal Your heart as we reveal ours. Empower us to grow in love. Amen.
Here is a quick review of the questions to keep rolling around in our minds as we study…
Is there any one idea that really reached me?
What is God revealing about Himself in this reading?
What is God revealing about me in this reading?
Where was the “bottle neck” in my past that kept me from realizing God to His fullest?
Was it a person, or maybe an event? Could it have even been me?
Upon realization, ask God for healing and an example of His perfect love.
Where am I “bottle necked” now in my relationship with God?
What can I recognize, or handle differently to increase “flow” in my Spiritual life?
A few more questions particular to this chapter…
That is what conversion is all about. It is a complete turnaround that allows us to discover that we are not the prisoners we think we are.
Nouwen, Henri J. M.
A “prisoner” is a person with limited freedoms as a result of crimes committed or a person awaiting trial. This can also be a person feeling trapped by a set of circumstances.
What in our particular lives, past or present, makes us feel like prisoners?
Do we crave freedom through God and God’s love as much as a real prisoner craves freedom from jail?
In Junior High School we would use litmus paper. It was a simple test to discover if something was acid or alkali. Dip the strip in the liquid and then bam… the color of the paper would convert to one color or another. The answer was clear and easy. Often, trying to realize God’s will can seem monumental and out of reach. Henri Nouwen clarifies and defines God proclaiming that “God is love”. Can looking at our circumstances using God’s love as litmus paper bring clarity or revelation?
It’s been said that “we are often our own worst enemy”. In what ways do we block God’s love from our lives? Why? (By the way, through God’s grace, as a creation and child of God… you DO deserve God’s unconditional love!)
We spend countless hours making up our minds about others.
An unceasing exchange of opinions about people close by or far away keeps us distracted
and allows us to ignore the truth
that we ourselves are the first ones who need a change of heart
probably the only ones whose hearts we indeed can change.
Nouwen, Henri J. M..
Do we love gossip, or judging others, keeping our eyes outward and our hearts hidden from the tender areas in our personal lives that need the most help?
Do we create “smoke and mirrors” as a distraction to keep us from healing from our own pain?
Perhaps a couple fundamental questions surface:
Why do we hate change?
Why do we feel vulnerable, scared or resistant to change?
I’ve also heard it said “There are no atheists aboard a crashing airplane”! What is it about tragedy that draws us closer to God?
As we view the world around us, how does our perception change when we look through the lens of God’s love?
People are often surprised when they help others, an un-intended hidden blessing or revelation of God’s love rises within their own life. Can you think of an instance where you helped another, but discovered something new in the process?
A person who bites their finger nails often exhibits anxiety through this habit. Shingles and so many other problems are provoked by stress. How does anxiety present in your life?
A basic need of love and acceptance, or fear of the opposite, is often the real diagnosis to the symptom of stress. As anxiety levels present themselves, can proclaiming that we are God’s kid and are constantly enveloped in God’s love and acceptance relieve anxiety?
The old saying “you can’t get there from here” may be true in the world but couldn’t be farther from the truth in God’s Kingdom! I continue to pray that God is revealing Himself through this study. I also pray that the fear of conversion melts as a consequence of the acceptance of God’s love.
If the Spirit moves you, please feel free or continue to comment. Others see their situations differently after learning from the experience or insights of others. As an administrator of this site, I can see that between 44 and 187 souls are reading this study every week. Sharing stories of God’s love and conversion helps more people, in more ways, than we may begin to realize!