“What is the basis of our security?” asks Henri Nouwen. Take a moment to think about his question. What are some of things that come to mind for you?
I first thought of Linus from the cartoon “Peanuts.” I can’t remember a scene where Charley Brown’s friend was not with his trusty old security blanket. It had this tremendous power, over him and the world around him. Like a soft, cottony Swiss Army Knife – it often transformed into a bullwhip, a lasso, a shield, or a shepherd’s crook when needed.
It seems comical to believe that a material objects can give us security in today’s world. But nearly all of us put great stock into things like money and material wealth; success and popularity; family and friends, and business connections; knowledge, technology and data. It may seem shallow to think that such things form the basis of our security, but our actions and feelings towards them may seem to suggest otherwise.
For example, I often review throughout the week how well the viewership has been for Sunday’s service. Even though I know I should never determine or judge my self-worth by the number of “butts are in the pews”, I admittedly submit to the numerical data. If viewership is up then my attitude goes up. But if numbers are down I often follow.
Nouwen writes, “When we start losing our money, our friends, or our popularity, our anxiety often reveals how deeply our sense of security is rooted in these things.” It can throw your focus off of your fasting. Instead of leaning on the Spirit of God for our spiritual sustenance, we rely on ourselves. This seems to be counter-productive…just saying.
Jesus said, "You cannot be the slave to both God and money." He calls us to literally give away all we have so that we might live faithfully and completely in God’s care. Jesus also knows it’s easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than it is for us to let go of our false senses of security. In spite of this, relying solely on God’s grace and mercy is not impossible to do.
“A spiritual life,” Nouwen concludes, “is a life in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is everlasting love. We probably will never be completely free from our attachment to the temporal world, but if we want to live in that world in a truly free way, we'd better not belong to it.”
Lent is a time to move closer to God’s love, so we might discover God’s purpose for us in its fullness and depth.
"You cannot be the slave to both God and money. " - Matthew 6:24
Prayer: My God in heaven, may your name be forever praised from my lips as I wait for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. Give me the sustenance and security I need to get me through the day. And forgive me of all my wrongdoings so that I may be able to forgive the people who have done me wrong. Keep me away from temptation and protect me from the evil that lives around me. You are my security light and the only weapon I need to protect me, and those I love. Amen.
Nouwen, Henri. Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith. Harper-Collins: 1997.