You Found Me


The following is from “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming” by Henri J.M. Nouwen, and I’m stealing it from Jesus Needs New PR:

For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.

To be sure, I disagree with part of the way it’s written. He’s not trying to find me or know me or love me. He already knows where I am, knows everything about me and loves me infinitely.

But that doesn’t mean I appreciate those things. It doesn’t mean that I let myself feel loved. It doesn’t mean that I let Him be the witness to my life.

I empathize completely with the passage. I treat my relationship with God like I treat other relationships. I came out of a marriage that I felt like I needed to save. My wife was drifting away, and I needed to go bring her back. I went from that into an engagement where I was put on the defensive. I needed to prove myself, I needed to be better, I needed to work harder, I needed to save the situation. And in both cases, I couldn’t.

It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve really come to realize that I treat my relationship with God the same way. I act like it’s another one-sided relationship, that it’s up to me to make it work. When it feels like there’s distance, I need to work harder. I need to read my Bible more. I need to go to church more. I need to pray more. I need to read my devotional more. I need to walk more. I, I, I, I, I.

I’m not willing to relax. I’m not willing to let Him be a partner in the relationship. I’m certainly not willing to let Him be the stronger partner in the relationship. Because, yeah, if there’s one of the two of us that can figure out how to make it work, I doubt it’s me, you know?

Making it worse — in my Earthly relationships, if I hadn’t felt like I had to make them work, would I have even needed to?

The sad thing is this — Like I said, I’ve been dealing with this for a while. And I’m no closer to doing any better. I’m no closer to knowing how to be pursued. I’m no closer to knowing how to stop striving. No closer to knowing to knowing how to be loved. No closer to knowing how to stop carrying the burden. No closer to knowing how to let go.

No closer to knowing how to trust.

Father, I want to lay it down. I want to be found. I don’t know how. Teach me. Find me.

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