Wholeness is found outside of ourselves, not within ourselves. Humanity is a huge black hole of need. We, on our own, are nothing but a sucking vortex of need. But God calls us out of ourselves to save us from ourselves.
I have been overwhelmed at the Lord’s purposes in my life. In my early life, even just after being saved, I struggled with the gnawing ache of need. I wanted so badly to fill this void and eradicate the pain. Yet all that I did to pacify it still failed to resolve it. Nothing I did in myself solved the void. Some might say, “Jesus is the answer to fill our voided life. He comes to be in me what I sought to find.” And I would agree with this wholeheartedly. But there is something more than Christ indwelling that made the difference in me.
By nature I can be a little melancholy. And my sanguineness coupled with this just made me a little more demonstrative in how that was expressed. I remember sitting for hours in my dark apartment in Orlando, all by myself, just weeping. The ache in my soul was almost too much to bear. It wasn’t that I was sad with my life; I had simply planted my face so deeply in my own belly button that I didn’t see anything but ME. I contend this is a recipe for destruction—melancholy self-focus.
Wholeness and Need
God allowed this morbid self-reflection for a season. And I just chose to let it be. I wouldn’t fight the ache, I would simply allow it to be until God dealt with it. And deal with it He would. How you might ask? First it was by lifting my face from myself and calling me to focus on sheep and goats.
Farm life is relentless, thankless, and probably the thing that saved my very life. I had to get out of myself and look with an eye to give, not receive. Hours and hours are poured into the job of a shepherd. Every day, rain or shine, sickness or in health, you have to go… They are dependent on you for their very lives. Years of this transformed my heart. No, not everyone is called to shepherd, but I know He does lead us outside ourselves to save us from ourselves. Obsessive introspection and self-focus is murderous to our souls.
The whole process has graduated from animals to people. I have people I shepherd and love. They rely on me and my attention is required to be on them. No, it isn’t my life I rely on to meet the need. It is Christ’s Life coming through my life which is able to be Life. I am created to be a fountain of His Life, not a Dead Sea of self.
Woundedness of Henri Nouwen
I was telling the body here about Henri Nouwen and his experience with Adam at the L’Arche Daybreak Community. In reading much of Henri’s life, I would have to say that this experience was the saving of his life. Nouwen was a wounded healer. He was extremely narcissistic as a response to his wounds and his self-focus, as I said of mine, was detrimental. He was dying on the vine while being a fruitful author and priest. Henri’s eyes were on Henri to a dangerous degree. And then the Lord called him to serve at the community Daybreak. There he became the soul support of a man named Adam. Adam could do nothing on his own; his whole life was required of another. Just like me with the sheep, this man’s need was so great that Nouwen couldn’t be singly focused on himself.
Over the years Henri had with Adam, I believe he would say he was the one healed. That he received the greater ministry and was changed forever. Henri Nouwen was a beautiful spiritual man who couldn’t get beyond his wounds. So, God called him out of his wounds by causing him to focus on sustaining another. Do you see the amazing wisdom of this? God is so masterful!
I Am Whole!
Like Henri, I found wholeness outside of myself, not within myself. I am not speaking of salvation here. Christ comes inside us to dwell and in that I am saved from self by Someone who lives within me. No, I am talking about focus and gazing. God called me out of my self-focus to save me from it. It wasn’t something I could just formulate and work up.
Again, I spent years in the dark night of the soul. But His very Light shone out and He orchestrated the intent of His Life flow out of me. It has all been for others, and not about ME. I praise Him for this! I praise Him for His work in Nouwen. The Father is the perfect Shepherd and He leads us, even what we focus on, to His perfect plan of Life. He designs the events of life to bring us into wholeness, and often that happens when we focus on others not self.