In Memory

by Paul Johnson, LMFT, LPC, NCC
(Originally printed in 280 Living, Birmingham, AL, June 2013)

I love to read. Because I love to read, I read a lot. Because I love to read, I am exposed to several different authors. But there are some I return to time and time again, to read something new they have written, or to return to something I have read before, needing a gentle reminder. This past April, the world lost one of my beloved writers. Last August, another one had passed. In this article, I would like to share four quotes from four of my favorites who are no longer with us in life, but whose influence may be felt in word.

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996):
“Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation. As long as “being the Beloved” is little more than a beautiful thought or a lofty idea that hangs above my life to keep me from becoming depressed, nothing really changes. What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life.” (Life of the Beloved)

Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003):
“Five years ago I decided to start listening again to the voice of Jesus, and my life hasn’t been the same since. He has not been telling me what to do, He has been telling me how much he loves me. He has not corrected my behavior, He has been leading me into His arms. And He has not protected me from the dangers of living, He has led me into the dangerous place of wild and terrifying wonder-full faith.” (Dangerous Wonder)

Calvin Miller: (1937-Aug 19, 2012):
“Oftentimes Love is so poorly packaged that when we have sold everything to buy it, we cry in finding all our substance gone and nothing in the tinsel and the ribbon. Hate dresses well to please the buyer.” (The Singer)

Brennan Manning (1934-April 12, 2013):
“The faith that animates the Christian community is less a matter of believing in the existence of God than a practical trust in his loving care under whatever pressure. The stakes here are enormous, for I have not said in my heart, ‘God exists,’ until I have said, ‘I trust you.’” (Ruthless Trust)

I would welcome you to find a book or two of these writers this summer, and find grace, hope, inspiration, and empowerment.

Paul Johnson is a professionally licensed marriage and family therapist and professionally licensed counselor in the state of Alabama. You may reach him at 205-807-6645, or contact him via our website at

In addition, later in 2013, one of my other absolute favorite author/thinkers passed away, yet he is still alive to me as I continue to mine treasure from his writing. Here is a quote, plus two others from two writers who are still contributing:

Robert Farrar Capon (1925-September 5, 2013):
"The clergy are worth their salt only if they understand that God deals out salvation solely through the klutzes and the nobodies of the world—through, in short, the last, the least, the lost, the little, and the dead." (The Parables of Grace)

Frederick Buechner (1926-):
"Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving." (Wishful Thinking)

Larry Crabb (1944-):
"Some of your fondest dreams will shatter, and you will be tempted to lose hope. I will seem to you callous or, worse, weak—unresponsive to your pain. You will wonder if I cannot do anything or simply will not. When all this comes to pass, My word to you is this: Do not lose hope. I guarantee you the power to please me, not to have a good time. But pleasing me will bring you great joy." (Shattered Dreams)