Waiting for me

It’s early yet as the golf cart rolls to a stop in front of the camp kitchen. I head for the door: I’ve got laundry to do. Three steps later, there Angel is: running, wagging her tail and doggy-smiling. I blink. This is different. Sure she’s been here every time I’ve come up here for the past two days, but she’s always just lain there and morosely looked at me as I came and went. 

But here she is this morning. I guess she’s decided that if she can’t have the multitude that she’ll make do with one. I pat her head and find her a stick. A few minutes later I head off. Angel sits in the road and watches me go. 

I come back, once, twice, three times, and always she’s there. Delightfully happy to see me, sad when I leave. 

It’s evening now. I’m done up here, well, for today anyway and as I head off I turn to Angel. “I’ll be back tomorrow, but you could just go home. The rest aren’t coming back.” She doesn’t answer, just sits there with mournful eyes and watches me go. 

And that’s when it hits me. 

My God? He waits for me too.  And even though He has a multitude, He isn’t satisfied to miss just one. 

Always, when I come, He’s there. Smiling soft, welcoming me with joy. And always, when I leave, He sadly watches me go…. Longing for the day when I won’t leave Him any longer. 

And really, I don’t have to. And honestly, I don’t want to. The same God who beckons me into His presence each morning, who waits for me to come to Him, is the same God who promises that if I ask He’ll never leave me alone and that He’ll walk beside me every step of the way. 

He waits for me. Beckons me Home and greets me with joy. And this time, I ask only that when I have to go and face the world, that He will never leave me and that He will keep me by His side. 

For forever and a day. 

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He Always Will 

It’s taken me 2.5 years to wade through Isaiah’s 66 chapters, but I don’t regret it nor the “detours” that helped it take that long. They were what I needed, and I found that every time I came back to Isaiah my marker was right where I needed it then, too. 

I’ve been reviewing what I learned from this book and I’m left with four thoughts. 

1.) We are broken, but God wants to heal. He gave promise after promise to an apostate nation, He gives promise after promise to me. The difference: they received not the fulfillment but if I obey than the fulfillment is mine. 

2.) When God transforms He completely transforms, but it doesn’t stop there. I am redeemed so that I may serve: feed the hungry, seek justice for the oppressed, etc. It’s a beautiful way for His love to touch the world. 

3.) God is just but He is also merciful. He makes no secrets about what happens if I persist in sin but He also bears long. When I run away, He comes after. When I sin, He is ready to forgive. He bore long with a nation that would not listen, and He bears long with me. 

4.) Lastly, but certainly not least, God is love. It is Love that the rescues the straying, Love that touches the filthy and transforms, and Love that gives every chance possible for me to turn to Him and love Him back. It is Love that has chosen me, love that waits so He can be gracious and forgive. Love builds no barriers and He offers me this chance, this gift, to love as He does, even though I’m broken…. Perhaps because I’m broken. It is love that heals, after all. 

Today I have just one question and it’s not a question of whether or not God loves me or has chosen me or wants me to be with Him forever. He does. He always will. But have I chosen Him?

He is everything I need and He is enough for me. 

  

Call to Love

The past few days had been frigidly cold when we found a man sitting near our tables where we serve food to those on the streets. He shared bits and pieces with us of a life I can hardly imagine. And yet, despite his horrible circumstances this man knew something that I’m slow to acknowledge. As we all gathered around, he spoke these words:

“God gave us the Ten Commandments and they’re all about love. I don’t know how we got it so wrong in this country.”

I felt as though his words slammed into my heart and stayed. Because he’s right. And there’s nothing right about it. This man, barely existing, understood what we as Christians should be first in understanding. But we aren’t. Instead we sit in church and think we’ve done our duty. We haven’t even started.

The world is dying because we’ve made the Law a rule to live by instead of the response of a heart captured by love. We’ve become so consumed with making sure we do. everything. exactly. right that we’ve forgotten the spirit of it all. And so the world cries and we do not hear, or if we do we turn away, because the love that touches the broken isn’t in our picture of Christianity.

And we call ourselves His followers?! Him the one who ate with sinners and who waited at the tomb just so Mary’s mourning could be joy, her the one who had been redeemed from defiling sin over and over again. Somehow this doesn’t equate.

When Christ gave the great commission He didn’t mean that His disciples should just preach truth to the world. The gospel is more than that. Yes, it is the truth of redemption and preaching that is a necessity. But unless we live this gospel we are preaching a truth we do not really believe.

If we really love our neighbor as ourselves than we cannot turn away from the pain of the world. By doing that, we permit injustice to continue; lives to be abused; and we tell the world that the God we serve doesn’t care enough to help a life in pain. That’s a problem. And the solution lies, at least partly, with me.

Sir John Powell once said, “Once you say the ‘yes’ of faith to Jesus and accept His blueprint of the fullness of life, the whole world can no longer revolve around you, your needs, your gratifications; you’ll have to revolve around the world, seeking to bandage its wounds, loving dead men into life, finding the lost, wanting the unwanted, and leaving behind all selfish, parasitic concerns which drain our time and energies.”

This is a lesson I’m slow to learn and even slower to live, but I intend to live the gospel that I believe. This doesn’t mean I’ll need to be rescuing those trapped in the worlds worst conditions, but it does mean that I cannot turn away and pretend that they don’t exist. I must let His love flow through me however He asks. And so I’m asking Him to teach me to learn to “love not (only) in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

Of course it’s easier to turn away. Love costs. But Love has also transformed my life and I want the world to know Him too.

Undeserved Mercy [to know the Holy]

He is holy. And He is God. And He is forever.
The place where He dwells is rightfully high and holy.

But He’s not alone.

“I dwell…with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15)

Umm… This is a sinner. Sin doesn’t belong in high and holy places.

Well, yes. But this is not just a sinner. This is one who realizes his true condition. This is a man who knows how far he has fallen, how grievous his sin is, and how unworthy of grace he is. This is one who is broken and crushed, who knows himself to be the lowest of the low.

He’s used his last strength to crawl to the foot of the cross and cast himself on the mercy of God.

This is his only hope and God does not hesitate. He brings him to His dwelling place, not to destroy, but to restore…. To make him new again.

This is undeserved mercy, pure and simple: to know the Holy and not be consumed.

But this is also who God is for God is love.

And Love never casts away a penitent, repentant child, no matter how long or far he has fallen.

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Because He is Love….

O Lord, if You should mark iniquity, how would I stand? My sins are more in number than the stars.
And You know them all.

But there is forgiveness with Thee.
Your faithfulness reaches unto the clouds, Your mercy unto the heavens.

And You blot out my iniquities, never to be remembered.
You wash me whiter than snow.

Under Your wings I may rest.
You are my refuge, my rock, the one who fights for me.

I rejoice in Your salvation.
I wait for You.
I give You praise.

For You are worthy. You are God. You are Love.
Now and forevermore.

( Psalm 130:3, 4; 36:5; Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 51:7; 57:1, 18:1, 2, 16, 17; 13:5; 130:6; 59:16; Revelation 4:11; Exodus 3:14; 1 John 4:16)

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Live to love. Heart of life.

His life my light. Fullness of grace.
Meant to shine on me.

Because He did.
Christ laid down His life, loved it not until death, so He could live a life of love.

He came. He lived love. He gave His all.

He is still the light. He is still love. But His love now shines in His yielded ones. His light now shines through them.
Yielded ones who have joyfully chosen to surrender their love of life so they can live a life of love.

Living a life of love rather than loving to live is no small difference. But it is the heart of truly living, and neither is there any small difference in what He gave so He could redeem me and the life He lived here on Earth.

In fact, there is no comparison.

He gave His life so His light could light my darkness, so I could know the heart of Love.

So I, too, can live His love.

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*thoughts from: John 1; Streams in the Desert, April 26.

Fountain of love

Christ’s heart was a fountain…. A fountain of love.
He took the love that He received and He gave it away. Continually.

His heart was ever touched with the cries of human suffering. He always sought to relieve.
He never sought to turn this fountain off. He lived to love.

“Jesus, precious Jesus. A whole fountain of love was in His soul.” (1MCP 201)

This fountain still flows. From it comes Christ’s love for us; from it we receive love to love another.

He asks us to be fountains, too. Fountains to continually share what He gives us with the world; that receive to give; that never seek to keep things to ourselves; that never seek release from duty.

Stagnant fountains grow polluted quickly. Stagnant lives have no hope of staying pure.