Saturday, September 9

Laying aside our own agendas

Yesterday I turned 50. Hard to believe, but true. Most of the day was spent travelling back to Guayaquil from a three-day birthday trip up into the mountains with my wife Linda and daughter Anna (our son was on a school outing.) We ate lots of wonderful food, rested, read, swam in hot thermal waters, visited several local museums, and rode horses every afternoon at the nice "Hosteria" where we stayed just outside of Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city.

One of the most meaningful little books I have come across this past year is a daily devotional entitled, "Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen" by Charles Ringma. Every day's reflection expounds on one of Henri Nouwen's quotes. While I am still working my way through the devotional, I have yet to read a single reflection that didn't speak directly to my life.

The following words from Ringma's devotional spoke to where I find myself spiritually after fifty years...
One of our persistent difficulties is that while we want help, we do not want to change. We are quite willing to go to God to ask for strength, but not so willing to ask for redirection. We are happy to be encouraged, but not to be converted.

In doing this we are making the fatal assumption that we are okay in what we are doing and in our priorities; all we lack is adequate resources. And so we turn to God in prayer asking for more grace, more of His Spirit, and more of His power. Even in our search for solitutde and inner peace, we are frequently motivated by the ideas that we are simply looking to find greater inner energies in order to carry on with our own agendas...

[Prayer and solitude] is not the place where we recharge our spiritual batteries and then continue to live as we have lived before. It is not the place where we catch our breath in order to madly reenter the race. It is not the place where we simply find some quietness before we plunge into the world with its babble of voices.

The place of solitude is where we are changed. It is the place where we abandon some of our agendas, where we acknowledge our complusions, where we discover new directions and where, more importantly, we find a new self.
The above thought has gotten me to reflect about the multiple agendas I continue to try and control (see Martha post below). Most of my agendas are pretty commendable (or at least I think so), and seem to be the kinds of things expected of a missionary. Yet I am increasingly feeling controlled and bound by these compulsions and agendas and becoming dissatisfied with life in general. Most of this disatisfaction comes from not being able to direct the outcomes of these agendas nor control my own compulstions.

Hence, the need to seriously consider abandoning some of these agendas, acknowledge the unrealistic compulsions, and discover the new directions God has for me at this point in my life.


GuyMuse said...

I have had a couple of people write to say they are having difficulty commenting. I recently changed over to the blogger beta version. It apparently still has several bugs to work out.

If you are having problems commenting, try logging in as "other" or "anonymous" rather than your Blogger user name. You can always just sign your name at the end of the comment.

Sorry for the trouble. I don't know what I can do to fix this problem.

Darrell said...

Happy Birthday!!

Anonymous said...

Guido, Fifty? Wow you are catching up to me. Happy Birthday and may God continue to bless your family and ministries.

Manuel Sosa

Ken Sorrell said...


Happy Birthday! and may the Lord bless you with many more.

RMc said...

Happy kinda late Bday Guy!!

I don't like reading Nouwen - he makes my head hurt and realize many things about myself that I don't care for..... But I need to read a more anyway.

Anonymous said...


I have some of those same thoughts about agendas, directions, and yes, some dissatisfaction. Could it be our age, or just another season of life?

Feliz cumpleanos

mr. t

Nomad said...

Belated Happy Birthday!

Gordon Cloud said...

Happy birthday. That is a great devotional article.

God help us to be willing to let Him change us.

Kiki Cherry said...

Happy Belated Birthday!