Friday, February 13, 2015

The Terrifying Heights and Depths of Love

Not too happy about leaving...

These past few months have been a series of new experiences for me. I have experienced a lot of firsts; first boyfriend, first time in Argentina, first view of one of the seven wonders of the world, and first kiss….opps….WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!!!! Besides, we don’t do that, we just hold hands. Anyway, this being my first relationship I am finding new things to worry about. There is a deep fear I know now that I knew very little of before. When I was young I used to have these entertainings of “what if’s” that I would play out in my mind. I would think “What if someone I love dies!?” Now, with a hope of “till death do us part” in view, I face those fears again and multiplied by ten. We often think of this promise carrying us into our old age. He’s supposed to be the one beside me and I by him supporting one another as life comes and goes. So I have these visions of him holding me when my dad dies. Then what? What about when mom dies, or if we loose a child, or the worst fear of all, if he dies and then there is none beside me!? When these thoughts come upon me I realize that it is a dangerous thing to love another. A terrifying, dangerous and paralyzing thing to truly love another. So while more often than not, our fears remain fears and only cost us energy, it raises another question for me; how dangerous is my love for Christ? If this is the fear I have for the man that God placed in my life, what is the fear for The God Man who laid down His life for me? Is there a fear? If love is truly a dangerous thing, and Christ is perfect love, what does it all mean? 

I was reminded of one of my favorite authors who once wrote about a fear using the illustration of a pair of pale green pants. The story is about a little boy who finds a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them and it frightens him. He runs from the pants until he discovers that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place (In case you haven’t figured it out, that favorite author is none other than Dr. Seuss). These fears that I have might be nothing more than pale green pants with nobody inside them, there may not be anything to support these fears that I have, but what is more, is there is One who says there is nothing to even be afraid of. There is nothing to be afraid of because Perfect love casts out all fear. So when I was worrying about finding someone to share the rest of my life with, His perfect love was as work. While I am worrying and afraid of loosing the one I hope to spend the rest of my life with, His perfect love is at work. When one of the two of us who are given to other dies, His perfect love will be working. 
...but then we got another day together!

His love is dangerous and terrifying because, His love promises to be there even when the other loves fade, weaken, or die. Whats terrifying is that His love will be enough even when all we want is that hand to hold, the person to hug, or to see our children alive. What is terrifying is that we have to face the pale green pants with nobody inside them, and know that even if there was support for them, even if those pants take on a form and are filled with someone so strong to kick us down, we can face them and be kicked down because He was struck down first for us to offer us eternity. I pray our greatest fears never take form and kick us down, and for those of you for whom they already have, I pray His grace be sufficient for you and His power made perfect in your weakness. Whats terrifying is loving the One who made the universe, trusting that He still holds this fragile world, and our frail flesh in His hands, and trusting that He will bring us safely home. What is terrifying is trusting the life of another to the One Who loved us with His own life. 

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lessons learned......

Now, for the whole world to know; I am engaged to a fine young man from Argentina who I was blessed to be able to spend some time with here in the states this past January. In that time we spent some time at my parents house. My parents have a dog. Her name is Ruby. Ruby has taught us many wonderful things and has made us quite frustrated with other things through the years. Ruby is a fine specimen but her family has made her fat and quite honestly put her at risk for many future health problems. The main problem is that Ruby is not taken on regular walks like she should be. My mother’s arm is weak and her pride too great to be taken on a walk by a dog. My fathers knees are bad, and his preferred form of exercise is the stationary bike. My excuse is that I am hardly home, although even when I am home my patience is so thin and motivation too low so that when I do finally get the urge to run or walk, I prefer to go solo and not have to control a dog. These past few weeks with my dear, sweet, saint of a fiancĂ© in town, showed me something new. Roberto, my saint of a fiancĂ© promised to take Ruby on a walk every day he was around. He held his promise and I affectionately started to refer to Ruby as “The other woman.” I went on some of those walks with Ruby and Roberto (Oh dear! Those names have a nice ring to them!). I watched as Roberto delighted in Ruby. He didn’t try to tame the beast, he just let her be. There was a careless freedom about her and I started to realize all these years there were two ways to walk with Ruby; She could take you for a walk, or you could let her walk. 
Often we joke about how you don’t walk Ruby, she walks you. That is to say, she pulls you along and makes it hard to keep up. She is so strong and fast. I took Ruby for a walk today and instead of yelling, and pulling on her leash and trying to maintain her, I let her pull me and I laughed instead. It was freeing to think; she is who she is and there really isn’t anything too wrong with that. She is a dog, she is supposed to bark, and run, and be an animal, I don’t need to try to tame her. We go to a  corn field where I often let her run wild. My dad claims that Ruby smiles. I think he is right. I watched Ruby run through the field with what seemed to be a smile on her face and I realized what a disservice I have done to her and to myself. She ran and bit at the snow, she sniffed out tracks. She was made to be excited, and happy to serve her master in retrieving things. We have tried to turn her into a garbage disposal, and a tame type of companion. Watching her be so happy made me happy. It gave me a small sense of gratification in seeing her run like a child without a care in the world. I let her walk, or rather run. Then, she walked with me for the remainder of the way home. 
It seems to me that we could say God is that way with us, but I think He calls us to be that way with others. I realized in watching Roberto and Ruby that Roberto is the type of person that looks at others for the good and mirth God placed in them. I have been reminded by my family that Roberto is a wonderful man and it makes me wonder how many faults he has already overlooked deciding to delight in my redeemable qualities. 

We often create standards and worlds for ourselves that demand that others fit into them, not that we adjust to fit into others worlds. We have to have things just so, or under our control. Ruby is still a naughty dog that needs correction, but she also obtains qualities and characteristics that will not change despite my many attempts to change her. This is not a plea for coexistence or tolerance or any of the other words society has used to make the profane holy acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of all people even Christians. This is to say that perhaps our love for others is limited by an inability to recall that we are all sinners and all have fallen short of the glory of God.  Meaning; what if we learned from Roberto and Ruby and allowed ourselves to be uncomfortable with other sinners, and know that God doesn’t just call us to know that we are redeemed, but to know that others are redeemed as well. God calls us to help our brother to live in that new identity just as we live in our own baptismal identity. 

Philippians 2:14-16Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.