Sunday, February 26, 2017

But He Loves Me!

"I am a wayward, foolish child.  
But He loves me!  
I have disobeyed and grieved Him ten thousand times.  
But He loves me! 
 I have lost faith in some of my dearest friends and am very desolate.  
But He loves me!
  I do not love Him; I am even angry with Him! 
 But He loves me!"

So, Katy has finally found true love.  Not in a self centered romance.  Not with a self interested boy.  But in a Man.  A true Man who loves her enough to die for her.  And that's just what He did.
Katy is all too aware that there is nothing in her that would prompt such sacrificial love.  She writes,

"I knelt down to pray and all my wasted, childish, wicked life came and stared me in the face.  I looked at it and said with tears of joy, 'But He loves me!'  Never in my life did I feel so rested, so quieted, so sorrowful and yet so satisfied." 

This is the true love story for every believer.

"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:7,8

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10 :11

"...having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." John 13:1 

I am going to take a time out from Book Club Facilitator and just be real for a moment.

You may have noticed the three week hiatus on posts.  I apologize.  I was busy, hiding under a rock.  The month of February has been absolutely miserable.  I have been exhausted from the physical demands of growing a new person, true, but the real weariness has been in my soul.  I have been under a constant spiritual attack.  Fear, guilt, shame, rage, anxiety and depression have been my constant companions.

The biggest challenge has been meeting criticism from a concerned family member.  I know they have my best interests at heart.  I love this person deeply and don't doubt their love for me.  But, goodness!  It really hurts and I have been at a loss to know which criticisms are fair and constructive, which are stemming from misunderstandings and miscommunication, which are none of their concern and which are subtle diversions from the Enemy, meant to keep me off track and discouraged.

Some of the criticism I know is well deserved.  It highlights my failures in training my children adequately in areas such as manners and deportment.

Other issues are ones that I'm already addressing, but the new pressure is causing me literal headaches because of the fierce judgment and scrutiny that I am under.

The hardest to deal with are dissastisfactions over things I am already doing well.  These I have to prayerfully consider, should I be engaged in these activities at all?  If God gives me the affirmative, then full speed ahead, but leave the bitterness behind.

And so here I am.  I'm just a girl who is aware that her youngest son wore no socks to church in spite of having plenty of clean folded socks just the day before.  I'm not perfect.  I'm struggling to stay afloat in a world where perfection is required.  I need protection.  I need a shield.  I need a Rock.

Jesus is my Rock.

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, and my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." Psalm 18:2

The Rock that was struck by Moses split open and out of it sprang living water.  Moses himself took refuge in a cloven Rock that he might behold Jehovah passing by.  Jesus' side was rent and from him water and blood flowed mingled together.  Jesus truly is that Rock of ages, cleft for me.  I must run and hide myself in Him.  I cannot stand before a holy God, I cannot bear up under the rod of the Law, I cannot take a step further in this dry and desolate wilderness without Him.

Katy finally finds the freedom she has been longing for through submitting to love.

But He loves me.

She is on the cusp of discovering how she can serve her beloved.  She would like to do something great, something spiritual, something noble and (just maybe) noteworthy. But she doesn't know how or what.  She has a startling thought as she reflects,

"I have been thinking that if it is true that God notices every little thing we do to please Him, He must also notice every cross word we speak, every shrug of the shoulders, every ungracious look, and that they displease Him.  And my list of such offenses is as long as my life!"    
Ouch!  While I have been busy nursing hurt feelings, a bruised ego and defending myself against "grievous injustices", I have been just as busy racking up cross words, ungracious looks and a seething rebellious spirit.  What a grief to my dear Savior.  Each offense has already been personally born in His own body and duly paid for.  But how it must pain Him to see me acting out the very sins that left indelible marks on His glorified body.

Like Katy, I want to live for Him.  Because in the midst of all of this, when I am unlovely, He loves me!  Unconditionally, forever.  There is now no condemnation.  He is my lawyer, my judge and my jury.  He paid the restitution debt.  He was the mediator between the offended party and the offender.  And when the day is over, He is the one taking me home, to be with Him, forever.  In light of all this, how should I then live?

Katy's wise mother recommends a radical course of action,

"You have tried living for yourself a good many years, and the result is great weariness and heaviness of soul.  Try now to live for others.  Take a class in the Sunday School.  Go with me to visit my poor people.  You will be astonished to discover how much suffering and sickness there is in the world and how delightful to sympathize with and try to relieve it."  
This is not at all attractive to Katy.  She is much too busy with her own pursuits of pleasure and "accomplishment", but having no greater alternatives, she figures she will give the least repugnant of these a try. 

As a mother, my sphere of duty is squarely laid out before me.  I must show my love and delight in my Savior by showering those under my care with love and delight.  I must get up and try again every day.  I must gather strength for the day by reminding myself of the the One Great Truth.   It is not, "He disapproves, therefore I must work harder." 

No, I must walk in the glorious truth of . . . 

He loves me.

In other words, I need to spend more time hiding under my Rock.

"And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Isaiah 32:2

Sunday, February 5, 2017

"He Likes Me Ever So Much!" - Chapter lll

"A frank, unchastened, generous creature,
Whose faults and virtues stand in bold relief."

Dear Katy is looking for love in all the wrong places.  Her mother loves her more deeply than any other person on earth.  And because of that love, she speaks the truth that her daughter does not want to hear.  Katy thinks it's love that she is seeking, but it is really admiration.  No, it's worship, is it not?  

Girlfriend, I feel your pain.

It makes me laugh to think of some of my teenage crushes.  

Did these boys point me to Jesus as the True Friend who will always love me best and first?  No.     

Did they encourage me to be the woman that God created me to be?  No.

Did they love me for the unique individual that I am, flaws and awkward glasses and horrible denim skirts and all?  No.

Did they even know or care that I existed?  

Sigh.  Nope.  I was pretty much invisible.  Either that or I was so embarrassingly obvious that they loathed me entirely and ran for the hills the moment I entered the room.  I think invisible would have better for all concerned.

I understand where Katy is at right now.  She wants so badly to be told that she is amazing, beautiful, unique.  To be admired and emulated, whether by her girlfriends or a young man.  She is missing her father, who made her feel secure and beloved.  She is rebelling against her mother, possibly because her mother represents the surrendered life that Katy is so desperate to avoid.  The thought of marriage took her completely by surprise.  I don't know what she thought an engagement would lead to, bless her heart.  She confesses: 
"All I had wanted was for Charley to come here every day, take me out now and then and care for nobody else." 

In other words, she is in love with the idea of being in love.
What are the warning signs that alarm her mother?

"How can you fail to see what I see, oh! so plainly, that Charley Underhill never, never can meet the requirements of your soul . . . His flatteries delude, and his professions of affection gratify you.  You do not see that he is shallow and conceited and selfish . . . His ruling passion is love of admiration.  The little pleasing acts that attract you are so many traps set to catch the attention and the favorable opinion of those about him.  He has not one honest deisire to please because it is right to be pleasing."
If only we would listen to the wise advice of those who love us best.

Like Katy, I started off looking for a young man who would make me feel valuable.  Someone who would love me without being obligated to.  Of course my family loved me, but they kind of had to.  There is something very validating in proving that someone could choose to love you.  Couldn't help but love you!  

Except . . .
that is just self love.  There is no rejoicing in that which is good, true, or noble in the other person.  There is no sacrifice.  It's not love, it's idolatry.

There came a day when I resolved to be mature.  No more crushes.  I was 15 and a half and it was time to grow up.  (I know, I'm killing myself with laughter right now)  I was going to just wait for the man God had for me and dispense with the awkward and embarrassing infatuations with boys that couldn't care less. 

The very next week I went to church and did what I always did, checked to see if Robert's truck was in the parking lot.

During the service I did what I always did, I watched Robert as he sat on the front pew, sang with gusto and scribbled furious notes.

I was already in love and didn't even recognize it because for once in my life it wasn't about me.  It was just pure admiration of a man (who, once again, barely knew that I existed) for who he already was.

And that is what love is.  

I think when Katy begins to realize that this is the sort of love towards God that she is missing, her life is going to turn around.  

What I see as I read this week's chapter is that self-centeredness is a black hole of need that is ever collapsing in on itself.  When do you ever have enough?  Your vessel is cracked and all the love you can grab runs right back out.  We have to realize that we were never meant to hold in love, but to be channels of love.  God's love, running right through us and watering the thirsty souls all around.  The Dead Sea is dead precisely because all the water flows into it, but there is no natural outlet.  Instead, the blazing sun beats down, evaporating the life giving water and leaving behind the deadly minerals.  I don't want to be like that.

 So, what are your thoughts? 
Do you have any humorous teenage crush stories to tell?
How did you find true love?
Any words of insight or wisdom?

I love hearing from you!  Thank you so much, all of you, for your support and participation.