Love Confirmed…(see last post!)

Quote

From the Daily Office for Jan. 1st….

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

Isaiah 62: 4-5

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Love Divine

How like spouses we are, Lord! Today’s Scripture is Matthew 13:44-46. In the parable of the pearl, I was prompted to consider–who is the precious one? Is Christ the pearl, and are we the ones who sell all to have Him? Or are we the pearl, on whom God has set His love and gave His Son’s life to redeem us for His own?

The truth is clear is Scripture that we are both precious to each other. He gave all for us, and we give all for Him, though imperfectly.
Like a husband who woos and then works to provide and like a wife who casts all her hope upon him and joins her journey to his, so we are to each other. Love divine.

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Running Into Ugly and Finding Beauty

20130204-102417.jpgI was not born pretty. Some people probably considered me ugly. At least one health professional suggested that my parents could “send me away”. In any case, the illusion that life is a safe, comfortable experience shattered that first day of my life when even the bottle failed me and I had to be fed with a dropper. My cleft lip and palate stamped the reality of the harshness of our world front and center on my face. It did one thing to me and one thing for me. To me– it launched me out of any delusional reality that life is easy or simple. For me– well, it landed me straight in the arms of God. Psalm 22:10 is a verse that resonated with me from the first day I heard it:

” 10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

IMG_0810So this little girl born with an amazing amount of black hair and with large, blue eyes had a big problem long after the surgeries were done and the medical files closed. Was life beautiful or was it ugly? As I grew I formed a sneaking suspicion that it was both. But, by gum, I would try to stay as close to the beautiful side as possible. And I feel like I have done that fairly well. I call it charm. You know, a small house can be renamed a “cottage”. And “slightly old” mixed with “inexpensive new” can become “shabby chic”. A crack in the wall is “old-world charm” along with rusty wheelbarrows remade into planters. Seeing the beauty and charm in things is a great skill to learn.

But what happens when you run into something truly ugly?

I don’t do well with that. It makes me very nervous. Like those inexorable rubik’s cubes (which I could never solve) some things in life cannot be twisted or turned into something “charming”. Until this last year, I have seen some of these ugly things–but from a distance–mostly as a nurse–poor people, lonely people, dead babies, twisted bodies, alcoholics bleeding out, addicts in cardiac arrest dying–the list goes on. But that kind of ugly I could walk away from. I always wondered as I drove home to my safe, small home with my wonderful husband and four healthy children, “What will I do when I can’t find the beautiful or charming side to a situation? When “ugly” comes to me? What will I do when I can’t find the “sunny-side’? And make no bones about it, I knew that Ugly came to everyone.

And then it came.

Last May, Ugly came. It came into my living room. It came into the lives of my children. It came into our pocketbook, into my health, into my “charming, little world”. It’s been almost a year and the journey is still on. And I am ok with it. It is Christ’s work, to help bear another’s burden. But my heart is breaking.

Oh, the grief! Dear Lord, where is the beauty? I can’t twist this anyway that makes it look better! If there were just some beauty here, I could bear it! I could bear it!

And then a still, small voice.

But maybe you are the beauty in this.

I am a grown adult and I have been twisting this rubik’s cube for a long time. I pause. I had never considered this option. Beauty can be brought by someone outside a situation, for the sole sake of the person in it and change the reality of their suffering. It is so simple. So elemental. So Christian. My friend, caught in the vortex of something ugly, gazes into a mirror and I on the other side, through Christ’s help, touch the opposite side of the looking glass. My compassion, no, Christ’s compassion, beautifies what she sees. And it is bearable. I still see ugly. She sees God working. I feel joy to know that she sees God. Later, I will see beauty. But I feel joy.

What a strange, sweet irony it is that a little girl born into trouble, and shying away from it all her life, should find out that, if she let God do the work, she could be the conduit to bring beauty to something very ugly.

“11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
1 John 4:11-12

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A New School Year…A New Chance to Show Your Love…and Courage

Ok. I know it’s still July, technically. But it might as well be August. Every mom can sense the oncoming juggernaut of the new school year like the Native American could tell the White-Man’s train was coming when it was miles from view. What happened to school in September? What happened to Gumby and Pokey? Lost forever.

This school year I will be holding ground for the kingdom of God here in my neighborhood.  You will be too. Your little spot of earth, your home, your family, is where God has strategically placed you for the furthering of His kingdom. Every lesson faithfully done, every meal cooked, every load of laundry washed and folded is a valiant stroke against apathy, laziness, disorderliness, and essentially against selfishness. Selfishness makes an ugly home, a home that does not honor God nor serve His purposes–except maybe to show what home should NOT be like. When we do what we ought to as mothers and fathers we are winning for God’s kingdom and above all we are showing our love for God.  Christ Himself said the same thing in His own way, “ but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:31) Our work is our chance to show God our love! Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Right now I have boxes of next year’s curriculum stacked in the hallway and last year’s Spanish to grade. I still have all the housework to oversee and a drama program to help run. The yard needs constant care and every new movie needs to be vetted. Kids need to be corrected, encouraged, and held to task. It’s a big job I’m doing on a smallish lot in big city. But it’s my spot. The ground God expects me, with His grace, to hold for Him.

And I want to–to show my love for Him.

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:21

A Holy Kiss

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth…” Song of Solomon 1:1

Kiss the Son,lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 2:11-12

This is an amazing verse to meditate on. It stopped me cold in my study of Song of Solomon earlier this summer. What a wonderful, intimate picture of the Church’s longing for Christ. Is it my longing? Do I really want to be that close? Am I willing to abandon anything that might be offensive to Him? A kiss is the most intimate kind of greeting–do I seek to stay in such unity with Christ that at any time I can be that close in spirit? To be ready to kiss someone is to be reconciled with them. Christ reconciles us by His sacrifice and we accept the gift by faith with repentance. With forgiveness joy comes, bubbling up into passion, yearning for expression. We raise our hands or bow down, dance (or wish we had to guts too), or sit in reverent silence, in love with Someone wonderful. For myself, I can’t wait see I can see Him face to face and greet Him, not like Judas, with a false kiss, but with a pure kiss, coming from the sanctified heart that He will give me!

A Little Bit of Something Wonderful!

I haven’t blogged for what feels like quite a while.  At the beginning of the summer I began to look into the Song of Solomon.  After only one verse in, I realized that this would be a headier task than I had imagined. If Christ loves us this much, with the love of a Bridegroom…all I can do is sit back and like Job, “put my hand over my mouth.”  Reading the book with Matthew Henry’s commentary made me look at Christ’s love for His own with new intensity. It almost seemed too much to hope for–that the God I am in love with might really love me back, ardently. It almost felt sacrilegious to believe it.  But Matthew Henry takes the claims of the the Bridegroom’s love and shows how they are reiterated throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament and the New. If this is true, I thought, this changes everything–for me.  It means I can love Him back with a crazy, amazing love–a love that will give up anything–that will run through the streets just to see Him.

Our teaching pastor made a point a week ago that struck me.  In a nutshell, the key to a life of godliness is to have something more wonderful to reach for than the vain things of this world. Actually, Someone!  If we love Christ, really behold Him, and understand His love for us, we will be able to live for Him and glorify Him. He challenged us to meditate on Christ–to let Him fill our hearts so that He eclipses everything else. For me to hear this, perched on the edge of the Song of Solomon ready to dive in as I was, gave me a thrill.  Could my year-long prayer to understand His love more be on the cusp of being answered?  I still had doubts.

Maybe, I thought, our Victorian brothers came up with the idea that this Song of Solomon was an example of Christ’s love for the church because they couldn’t handle the intensity of the imagery–that of married love. Maybe choosing to see this book as an example of the love between the Church and Christ is wishful thinking.  So, before I let myself get too excited over the prospect of being loved so much, I prayed.  I prayed that if there was something about Christ’s love for the church in this book that the Lord would bring some proof that this idea was not just a modern one. I didn’t know how this proof would get to me–since all my internet searches had turned up nothing and as a busy mom, I couldn’t look anymore. I wasn’t in conversation with anyone about it, who might be able to help me.  Nevertheless, I prayed and waited.

And a little bit of something wonderful happened!  Within two days of my prayer, at the back of my Voice of the Martyr’s magazine, I found an offering for a book entitled The Midnight Bride by Richard Wurmbrand. In reading the intro for the book it seems that as far back as the Talmud, the Jews saw this as a description of the love of God for Israel.  Actually, quite a few church fathers seemed to think so too. Sooo, it’s not a new idea! My heart leapt within me! What condescension! How could my Father care so much for me to give me such an answer so quickly!

Soooo, I am ready to take a close look at this book. I am ready to write about it and share what joys Christ shares with me. I am ready to have my heart filled up with the love of a Bridegroom and to try to love Him back with the love of  a bride.

I think I’ve seen anew Someone big enough to eclipse the world.