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Archive for the ‘February 2013’ Category

Made for you

I don’t know how many times I’ve wounded your great heart, but I want to be worth my weight in your arms. I want to be fit for you. To be good for you.

And yet I can’t help but feel you’ve been cheated. When have I loved you like you’ve loved me? I love you with all of my broken heart, with my whole conflicted soul… but your love is pure and full.

Your love is constant and unfailing. Your love is undivided. Entirely committed and wholehearted. Good through life and death. Strong for a thousand years. Even if I started loving you when time began I could never catch up… Oh God, how can you call me your beloved? How could I be anything more to you than a beautiful mess?

You could have chosen to pursue a love worthy of your affection. She could shine with the radiance of the sun and burn for you with its passion. She could plant her feet in the depths of the sea and still stand taller than me. She could reach the notes I cannot sing. She could dance upon the ground where I fell. She could love you well.

She would never need the blood you shed for me, and your tears would be full of joy, never grief. You’d never have to know how heartbreak feels, or jealousy. You’d live without the painful memories of death, because you would have married her at an altar and not a cross. She would have held your gaze when I turned away. She would have stayed through the night when I left your side. Yet you chose me for your bride, and you’ve given your eternal life.

I can only imagine the reason for your brutal pursuit is how loving me proves you true, through and through. It’s as if you’re an author with one novel to write, one story to forever tell what you’re like, and when I crossed your mind, you knew what I’d require. In that moment you knew the hell you’d face, and how your heart would break, and so you called my name. In the greatest expression of what it means to be Love, you called me your beloved.

The mystery is that your love is not merely the pitiful kind. You have chosen me for your bride, and you have no other on your mind. You could have loved me well just by loving me at all, but you love me in every way possible. I have your full attention, and your deepest affection. The greatest gift you’ve ever given has been yourself. You’ve held nothing back. And just to think God himself could be my closest companion, the greatest lover of my soul… It may be scandalous or even foolish to think, and if I made it up I should be ridiculed. But by your initiation it is glorious. It is wonderful.

Still, we are only at the conflict, in the middle of the story, and as with any great novel the best part is how it ends. And I know you are the one who calls things that are not, as though they were, and then they are. You cause light to shine out of the dark. And I know now I see in part what I will soon see in full. Now I see a poor reflection of things, dim and indistinct. Then I will have full vision.

Then I will see you face to face, and you will look at me like you’ve looked at no one else, and my name on your lips will feel different to you than any other name you’ve said, and you will be delighted. And just to think I could have your full attention for a moment is a weight of glory too great, and in your heart no one could take my place.

Then I will see you, and I will be made like you, shining with the radiance of the sun. In a flash of brilliant light, in a timeless and glorious moment, all at once, I will be only yours. Wholly yours. Purely yours.

I will sing effortlessly with you, my melody, as your perfect harmony. I will dance again, and missing a step will only mean falling into your arms. And I won’t break your heart or leave you scars. I will be fit for you, finally. I will be good for you, perfectly. Because I’ve been made for you.

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Struggling with God

Beyond the fear of losing those I love, of losing my health, of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, is my restless thought of losing God.

I don’t think I can actually lose God’s presence, just my present experience and enjoyment of him.

I mind no circumstance the way I mind my suspicions resulting from it, the doubts that disturb my confidence, the wavering that breaks sweet fellowship.

I think of a newly married husband and wife. They share their hearts, their bodies, and their lives. They touch places in each other withheld from the world. They share their souls, which are intangible yet incredibly vulnerable. It’s easy to imagine that if one of them were to suddenly disappear one night, there would be a heart wrenching conflict of emotion in the one left behind.

The deeper your experience of love, the deeper your questions, Where are you? Do you still love me? How could unfailing love look or feel like this? In the presence of incredible love, you become incredibly accessible as your intangible being is expressed, communicated, given. You would never share your defenseless soul unless you felt it was safe to do so.

And then, in what feels like love’s absence, you become just the opposite. You are closed, guarded, careful. All at once the arms that brought you home have left you out in the cold, and pain rushes into the places you felt loved. Are we much different in our response to an apparently absent God?

If a desperate prayer seems unanswered long enough, or a promise withheld from experience, the heart once so vulnerable with trust turns to stone at the thought of betrayal. The faithful become skeptical. The passion becomes dull. And we blame God’s distance, but we are the ones who have hidden ourselves.

What is actually worse than the seemingly unanswered prayer or broken promise is the breaking of intimate fellowship. The deeper problem of any circumstance is our loss of trust in God’s tender care for our soul. Otherwise, our hardship would be a manageable external circumstance, not an agonizing inner conflict resulting in spiritual depression and emotional distance. We would struggle with God, not against him.

Certainly if a husband fully trusted his bride, because he knew the reason she left in the middle of the night was to meet her mother in the hospital, he would not experience heartache nearly as he would if he believed she had left him. Even if he missed her for the night, he wouldn’t feel overcome with loneliness, uncertainty, and betrayal, as if she meant to leave him.

If anyone knows what it’s like to become intimate friends with God, and then feel left behind in the middle of the night, it is John. On the night Jesus was betrayed, John rested his head on his chest. He was close enough to hear his heartbeat and feel him breathe. He enjoyed the depths of love, of joy, of peace. He knew vulnerability. God himself was his closest companion, his greatest love. The sun set that beautiful evening only to rise again as the Son of God, John’s beloved one, was crucified before his eyes.

John, the beloved disciple, may have had more reason than anyone in the world to feel abandoned by God while he died on the cross. As Jesus breathed his last breath, I wonder if John questioned him, Where are you? Do you still love me? How could unfailing love look or feel like this? Yet John was the only friend who stayed with Jesus until the end. There were thousands upon thousands who followed Jesus when he fed them, but when it appeared he had nothing to offer but blood and tears, John was the only one left.

It’s easy for us to look back and see the cross as God’s proof of love, but all John saw when he looked up was loss. The tragic and sudden death of Love. But he didn’t leave.

When I look at Love and only see loss, when God doesn’t fit into my box, can’t he still be as good as I hoped he was? Can’t I be the one loyal friend in a thousand?

I don’t think people who live in love with God should despair when they’re numb and overcome with questions. I think the deeper we question God’s love and suffer its apparent absence implies the depth we’ve experienced it.

I think those who seek God with their whole broken heart will find him, and that he will prove himself a true friend. I think he’ll relate to those well acquainted with grief, and bring relief. I think we can come close enough to count the tears he has cried over us, to hear the prayers, to feel the scars. To struggle with him, and not against. To break with him, and not away from him. To grieve, and not grieve his Spirit. To be angry, and not sin. To trust him, even in pain. To love him, and never look away.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. O people… you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
(Isaiah 30:18-19)

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