Well, in the biblical understanding, heart is the center of our being. It's not a muscle, but a symbol for the very  center of our being. Now the beautiful thing about the heart is that the heart is the place we are mostly ourselves. It's  like the core of our being; it's the spiritual center of our being. Solitude and silence, for instance, are ways to get to  the heart, because the heart is the place where God speaks to us, where we hear the voice who calls us the beloved.  This is precisely in the most intimate place.

   In the famous story, Elijah was standing in front of the cave. God was not in the storm, God was not in the fire and  not in the earthquake, but God was in that soft little voice. That soft little voice we have to hear, speaks the whole  world there. If you give your whole heart and your whole mind and your whole strength to God, then you discover  your neighbor there. Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and your neighbor as yourself. That  means that in the total embrace of God's love that is where you find many of us. If I go into my heart and meet God  there, I always meet the world there. When God speaks in my heart, my heart becomes as wide as the world. It becomes like the marketplace of the world.

   A lot of people think about prayer or solitude as withdrawing from the world into a private space, but that’s not at all the case. The contemplative life, this mystical life, shows that the deeper you enter into the solitude and the deeper you come into the heart, the more in the world you are. That's precisely the basis in the world. Solitude and prayer bring you into a spiritual communion with the whole people.

   Spiritually speaking, that is what intercessory prayer is all about. It is to enter into the heart of God and be there in communion not only with God, but also with humanity. My deepest conviction is that communion with God and solidarity with all of humanity always goes together. You cannot live in communion with God without living in solidarity with people; it is essentially the same.

   The point is that when you come to the heart of God, you touch God's communion with all people. You will know how you are being sent into the world. You are sent into the world and that's what you have to do. I can sit here and say, Should I go to Somalia, or to Syria? Should I go to somewhere else to help people battling with the storm or whatever? I have to sit here and stay here. Don't try running around, because it's very clear that I can't by my own. If this is my vocation then I have to ask, how does God call me to something new? It might well be that that's not always the case. It might be that something happens in the world that I'm called to respond to in a new way. I have to, but it has to come from the heart, it has to come from God. Otherwise it becomes a set-up for burn-out, because I'm doing it in order to prove something thing to myself or to the world, or do good, or do something well. Then I am going to be bitter and disappointed.

   If you really want to know what God wants you to do, I think God is so eager to have somebody ask that question, that He won’t wait a second to respond. If you say to God, “I will do anything you want me to do’, as long as you are clear about it, you will get more clarity than you want! God is not necessarily always asking you difficult or profound things. It’s amazing when you do one or two a day of few tiny little things in obedience of God. It starts carving a new place in your life and you find yourself – introspectively – having made a whole journey. (Beloved: Henri J.M. Nouwen in conversation).



Pastor Mark

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