It’s Not Work, but Rather Relationship

Dutch author and priest Henri Nouwen admits in his book In the Name of Jesus that he felt as if he was in a “rut” in his life for more than twenty years. Nouwen seemed to have it made, with an outstanding academic resume and a noble field of study. Yet, he said, “As I entered into my fifties . . . I came face-to-face with a simple question, “Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus? After twenty-five years of priesthood, I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues . . . I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place.”

Nouwen asked God to show him where He wanted him to go and the Lord made it clear to him that he should leave his prestigious role as a distinguished professor and join the L’Arche communities for mentally handicapped people. In Nouwen’s words, “God said, ‘Go and live among the poor in spirit, and they will heal you.’” So he did. He faced numerous lessons, some painful, a few humiliating , but in all, he learned how to be a humble servant and a compassionate, caring friend. Nouwen came to realize: it’s not work that makes a person, but rather relationships.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ~ John 15:9-11