Book Club: Heart Speaks to Heart

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1-59471-116-XSo… As a whole, what did you think? If you had to boil it down to one thing you took away, what would that be?  For me, it was the reminder that Jesus loves us with a depth and intensity we can’t begin to wrap our minds around. …And sadly, I neglect this love all the time.

 Ch. ONE

What’s one thing you came away with from chapter 1?

Here’s what stood out for me:

Whenever I pick up a book, particularly a Christian one, I open it up and my mind goes straight into learning mode. I make mental lists of what I need to change, do, add, take away, become etc. With the added need to blog about this book, my crazy and busy mind hurriedly turned to the first chapter and was smacked in the face with the opening words,

“Come to me…

Instantly I felt my heart soften and I had to put the book down and reorient my thoughts in order to receive what Nouwen had to say.

I felt chapter 1 spoke of Jesus coming to serve.  This idea still shocks me.  Perhaps it’s because I just started a new job, but I kept thinking about the way we do things in our world. There’s a structure in place for how we help each other. In a company for example, the people on the bottom work for the person at the top.  The CEO is ideally busy doing the most important things and everyone else is working on lesser tasks to help the boss reach his or her goals.

I got this image of a lesser employee, a temp maybe, stressed out, busy, and burdened by their job tasks. Things are tense at home, bills are adding up, and the temp is behind at work.  Suddenly, the CEO walks in during the week of a huge business deal.  Everyone is working like crazy to make sure things run smoothly.  As the CEO heads for his corner office, he pauses at the desk of the temp and says, “Hey, how can I help you? Is there anything I can do for you today? Any way I can lighten your load?”

It’s crazy, right? But that’s the image I get in Ch. 1. I feel like Easter is a big day for Jesus and He has the whole world in His hands. He has big important things to do. I opened the book, pen and paper ready to jot down the areas God wanted me to work on, but was instead met with an invitation to hand over my agenda and simply spend time with Him.

Come to me…and I will give you rest”

What? With everything you have going on, you, Jesus, want to help me? That’s embarrassing. You’re God.

What came out for you? Lots of excellent thoughts on Jesus’ perfect love as the only satisfaction for our longings, hurts etc. I’d love to hear your take away.

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e5fa94ed9ee887a9faad805aa2fe20baCh. TWO

Chapter 2 provided less of a major take away for me but it did point out 2 things I’d never thought of.

  1. On pg. 36, Nouwen describes the innocent nature of Jesus’ heart, free from hatred, revenge, resentment, and jealousy.  For some reason, I’d thought of Jesus as innocent, as in never sinned, but I hadn’t pictured His heart as never knowing sin. It almost gave Jesus a naïve quality, like when you describe someone as, “She’s very innocent.” I don’t believe Jesus was naïve, let me say that, but picturing Him as the innocent type gave me a new sadness over His unjust death and treatment. It broke my heart to think of someone who didn’t know evil chosing to get to know it, to become it, for our sake (2 Cor 5:21). Thoughts??
  1. On pg. 38, he talks about Jesus’ wanting to be loved by people. This, too, was something I’d never reflected on. Picturing Jesus walking around desiring the love of others in a human way, the way I might desire love, was interesting. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Did it change your view of Jesus or humanity in any way?

*Spoiler I LOVE an unplanned running theme- Nouwen uses the word vulnerable to    describe Jesus as open to give and receive love. In Tiger Lily, she was unable to do this, and our 3rd March book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is all about healthy vulnerability. Can’t wait to discuss the 3 together in my next post.

3. Did you appreciate Nouwen’s take on the blood and water from Jesus’ side? Get anything from that?

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d14d4c65a6060c21d68aaa4dbe04f400Ch. THREE

  1. Was anyone else convicted by the second paragraph on pg. 52? We all struggle to truly find our home and peace in Him.  Why is it so hard to trust? Why is it easier to seek life, love, and comfort from outside sources?
  1. On page 53 and 54, Nouwen submits that we see the heart of Jesus whenever we meet broken people in this world. These encounters are meant to be, “very tangible reality.”  What do you think?

If part of why it’s hard to trust Jesus is b/c we can’t see and touch Him, do you agree that reaching out and touching the needs of others helps bridge the gap in a tangible way? Have you experienced this? Has God become more real to you through the experience of helping someone else? Has this led you to experience joy and peace in a deep and satisfying way as Nouwen says it will? I’d love to hear your stories!

Alright friends, I realize this discussion requires a little more vulnerability and personal reflection than most. I wish we could meet in person instead of an impersonal public blog forum, but here we are.  Be brave! Be kind!

Next months reads, due May 1, are:

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4 responses to “Book Club: Heart Speaks to Heart”

  1. Alecia says:

    For me, the big take away was that what Nouwen ended up writing about connecting with Jesus’ heart wasn’t anywhere close to what he thought he’d write or what he thought he needed. But when he put himself in a position to hear Jesus–physically and mentally–he got this amazing little gem of a book! Made me think about intentionally positioning myself to be with Jesus, just to enjoy his presence and also to hear him better. I like to think I can hear him fine while I’m just going on with my life, but we really do hear better when it’s quiet! Always a challenge for me. And I think that’s the underlying truth in the first meditation, too. When we do actually come to him we always find him there ready and waiting. He is not the friend who says “come, meet me” and then texts you five minutes after he’s supposed to be there to say he’s not going to be able to make it after all. I like your analogy about the CEO offering to help us. But I can see myself answering, “Oh, thanks, but I’ve got this.” or “I’m sure you have other things to do that are way more important than helping me.” Honestly, I say those things to God quite a bit–especially the first one! From the second chapter one line has my head and heart reeling: Can I truly say that my hands are clean? (p.21) Well, no, I can’t. And all my efforts to keep them clean by not touching the messy world around me just make them that much dirtier. Where’s the soap? Enough said. On the heels of that comes the title of ch.3, “Look, here are my hands…” torn and bloody and messy and scarred for the world and for you, dirty-handed little sinner. Thanks, Jesus. Thanks so much. Yeah, GOOD Friday.

    • Thanks, Alecia, my book friend:)

      I like how you explained Nouwen’s positioning to hear from Jesus. It is a challenge for me as well. I, too, gained a lot from the story of how his book came together and found that part equally as encouraging as the three meditations.

      For your response to ch. 1- Why do you think we struggle to accept His help? Is it a question of believing it’s available? Is it our own pride? I can’t quite figure it out. Maybe you have some thoughts.

      I’m glad you brought up the line about clean hands, very powerful. Sadly, it’s rare that I feel a deep sense of guilt and I was thankful for it, especially right before Easter. I think I’ve become too good at rationalizing my ‘mini’ sins… as if there were such a thing.

  2. Alecia says:

    Pride, yes. For me that pencils out to self-sufficiency. And honestly, struggling to accept that I actually NEED a Savior. Weird as it is after all these years of knowing him, I still act like I can get myself together and like I have to do that as a prerequisite for his love. Sometimes I wonder if our emphasis on Jesus’ humanity has desensitized us to his divinity. We have to know him as a Person, but then we treat him as a person, and expect him to react to us like a person. If that makes any sense at all…

  3. I need to read these!! I haven’t yet. I’m COMPLETELY GUILTY of judging books by their covers. It’s awful. Therefore, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is most likely the book I’d read first 😉 Thanks for sharing about these, Cindy!!!

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