Introductory Note:

Have you ever dared to ask God what He thinks of you? God not only allows us to ask this question, God is longing for us to seek and find His great love for us. Nathan Foster writes: “I have come to believe that God’s love is the central message of Christianity, that living the kingdom life must be born out of an active response to a deep knowing of one’s place as a much-loved daughter or son of the Author of Life.” In this excerpt from his book The Making of an Ordinary Saint, Nate gives a warm and winsome account of how the Holy One led him into practices of listening, observing, and connecting, which immersed him in God’s love and kindled his desire to draw ever-nearer to the Trinity and to love as God loves.

Grace Pouch
Content Manager

Excerpt from The Making Of An Ordinary Saint

God, what do you think about me?” 

That was the lit­tle self-cen­tered ques­tion I kept ask­ing. Once I cre­at­ed enough space in the noise of my life to lis­ten, God answered. In the fol­low­ing years of lone­ly retreats and long walks and bike rides, my soul began to be bathed in his love. Para­dox­i­cal­ly, some­times the silence brought bore­dom and sad­ness; oth­er times I was just left sleepy and emp­ty. A cou­ple of times, I even wait­ed curled in the fetal posi­tion, tug­ging my hair and sob­bing. Yet through the years I occa­sion­al­ly entered into the holy hush of God’s love, and through the air drift­ed the whis­per of the most beau­ti­ful words:

Oh, lit­tle one, there you are — don’t run.
It’s okay to rest.
You don’t have to always keep going.
I am already impressed.
Remem­ber I am for you.
I have always been.
I see how hard you try, how beat-up you feel, your mix of motives and lost dreams.
Just when you think you can’t get any low­er, I am there.
Under­neath your sad­ness and below the dark­ness of your heart, I am there.
Your bot­tom is my begin­ning.
When you hurt, I hurt,
and when you open your heart to love, I stand up and applaud.

As the years rolled by, I kept return­ing to the silence. I kept ask­ing, and I began to form my iden­ti­ty around the answer.

I start­ed see­ing glimpses of God’s uncon­di­tion­al love all around me.

I slow­ly stopped view­ing the Bible as a book I need­ed to under­stand, man­age, or defend, and I start­ed cul­ti­vat­ing a deep appre­ci­a­tion for it as the per­son­al sto­ries of a lov­ing Father reach­ing out to his chil­dren. When I moved beyond the cul­tur­al nuances, it unfold­ed as a divine­ly inspired and often trag­ic sto­ry of love.

I also began to see the cre­at­ed order as God’s first great book. Nature is the only book many through­out his­to­ry have been exposed to. It is a beau­ti­ful tapes­try declar­ing the mys­tery, good­ness, and love of God. Read­ing such a detailed and rich text seems to require only silence and prayer­ful listening.

I dug deep­er and uncov­ered God’s love echoed in the writ­ings and expe­ri­ences of two thou­sand years of faith­ful Christ fol­low­ers. I dis­cov­ered the words of Jean Pierre de Caus­saude: The doc­trine of pure love can only be learnt by God’s action, not by any effort of our own spir­it.” 1 And I came to cher­ish the wis­dom of Julian of Nor­wich: God loved us before he made us; and his love has nev­er dimin­ished and nev­er shall.” 2

I real­ized I had been ask­ing the wrong ques­tions about the prodi­gal son. I believe that if he left he would be wel­comed back again and again. I began to under­stand that if the prodi­gal son knew the grace, love, and accep­tance of his father, he would nev­er want to leave.

I’m real­ly leery when any­one says they have a sin­gu­lar, sim­ple solu­tion to life’s prob­lems, but I have con­tin­u­al­ly found that a clear and deep know­ing of God’s love for me has been the key rem­e­dy I need­ed to untan­gle many of the prob­lems I faced. Whether it was resent­ments, guilt, rela­tion­al con­flict, obses­sive or con­trol­ling behav­iors, peo­ple pleas­ing, greed, lust, with­draw­ing, neg­a­tive self-talk, anger, or try­ing to find my iden­ti­ty in what I did or in oth­er peo­ple, these were all at least in part root­ed in my desire and striv­ing to be sig­nif­i­cant — to be loved.

Through the years, when I felt my actions didn’t mea­sure up or I strug­gled with sin, I found myself greet­ing my fail­ures with a gen­tle smile. I didn’t have to achieve or be per­fect. I am loved. Con­trary to what I had pre­vi­ous­ly thought, reck­less grace didn’t make me com­pla­cent. Being accept­ed just as I am moti­vat­ed me to give and to love. When I real­ized I didn’t have to strive, I found I want­ed to.

Peo­ple who know they are deeply loved by God are free to engage real­i­ty. Peo­ple who know they are deeply loved by God freely love others.

Grace. Uncon­di­tion­al love. Accep­tance. These truths are often absent from the com­po­si­tion of our com­mu­ni­ties, reli­gious or not.

Much could be said on this top­ic, and many oth­ers have artic­u­lat­ed it bet­ter than I can, but I have come to believe that God’s love is the cen­tral mes­sage of Chris­tian­i­ty, that liv­ing the king­dom life must be born out of an active response to a deep know­ing of one’s place as a much-loved daugh­ter or son of the Author of Life.

I’m accept­ed. I’m loved. I’m free to achieve and to fail. I don’t have to prove I’m wor­thy of love or for­give­ness. And so it is out of this cen­ter that I now approach the spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines. … If the spir­i­tu­al life doesn’t lead us to free­dom and grace, then we’ve prob­a­bly missed the point.

  1. Jean Pierre de Caus­saude, quot­ed in Quotes from Fr Jean Pierre de Caus­sade, a French Jesuit Priest (1675 – 1751),” Sozein, 2014, http://​sozein​.org​.uk. ↩︎
  2. Julian of Nor­wich, quot­ed in Eliz­a­beth Spear­ing, Medieval Writ­ings on Female Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty (New York: Pen­guin, 2002), 206. ↩︎

Tak­en from The Mak­ing of an Ordi­nary Saint by Nathan Fos­ter. Copy­right © 2014 by Nathan Fos­ter. Pub­lished by Bak­er Books, Grand Rapids, MI. www​.baker​books​.com

Pho­to by Mitch Gais­er on Unsplash

Text First Published September 2014 · Last Featured on October 2021

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

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