“God’s love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.
How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.”
Psalm 36:5-9 The Message
In this tilted and spinning planet, nothing gets by God. No one can slip away unnoticed. Not a man, not a mouse passes by his watchful eye. We are also tilted, needing to be put right, upright. His love is so big, His purpose so enormous, nothing escapes His eye, and He can make things right.
His love speaks in the way this earth is covered with water, and it’s all the right temperature and the perfect distance from the sun. How can I deny Love’s existence?
Love speaks quietly, in a butterfly’s wing, lighting on wispy purple petal-skin. Love speaks loudly, through lightning flashing in dark clouds and bringing rain to parched land.
Love is the gentle power to speak with more than a clanging cymbal, softer than a noisy gong that causes confusion and confusion.
Love speaks softer and quieter… but louder than empty deeds, louder than flattery, empty praise, and in ways more meaningful than going through the motions. Love will not fail (I Corinthians 13).
Love glides in a paintbrush, love wrestles its way through words spilled on a page, love sings a song from the heart, in a voice, through musical instruments… all in ways that strike us deep.
Mothers speak love, they are moved to a place beyond themselves and sometimes no one can love like a mom, just sometimes, no one else gets it, or can love, when the world runs away, chasing after it’s own empty moon.
If I am still I hear Love speak to me. I practice the listening, so I can hear Him speak, or else the clanging noises drown him out– the empty promises of the world, the nay-sayers, the critics, the judges, the Pharisees, who know nothing of love, but of other things, who may appear to be “holy” but who are as far from Jesus as Mt. Everest is from the deepest part of the ocean. Maybe further.
Jesus spoke in love, when he was stopped on the way, interrupted constantly, and his response was one of acceptance, compassion, forgiveness. He healed, with his hands, and he cried for his friends. He cared. He joined the sinners, the ones who were known to be lawless, and told them, showed them, how true love behaves, where love walks, and resides. Who does love eat with? Those who are hungry. Jesus teaches that, shows it.
And I am hungry. Are you?
((Can I please follow this Jesus? I know there is nowhere else I’d rather be.))
Jesus wants us to know him. Know him. Be with him. Spend time with him. Be in a relationship. I see how it gets lost, so easily, forgotten, and neglected if the peripheral things of Jesus are pursued. Spending time in the presence of the Holy One, with Love, will make us more like him, like ones who are able to love the world around us, even the harder things.
Love doesn’t force. He says, “Look at what I’ll do for you! Look how much I love you!” His words and his actions are connected, reinforcing one another, his words aren’t empty and his deeds aren’t just a catalog of “good” actions. His way is connected in a mysterious language of saying that matched his doing.
I can’t do it as well as him. I fail at it. Jesus says love is not to be a doormat, but that a lover lives in truth. Standing in truth means dispelling lies that hiss from the enemy, trying to sway us from truth. Standing in truth is standing firm in love… and perfect love casts out all fear.
And sometimes, no one sees except the Father himself, the good and hard work that love is. True love loves when no one sees. Love has no need to boast. Love speaks for itself, louder than a thousand trumpets.
Love speaks quietly, walks softly, has no need to startle with her arrival… because the Father sees, He notices each step taken by each creature on the earth He made. He cares that thistles grow out of dry ground. He cares about stony hearts.
It is easy to love beauty. But Jesus teaches something more, something better. He reminds me of this, as I ponder the practice of love, as he demonstrates by example, as he eats with sinners, and bestows kindness upon the lowest, and speaks in instructing words.
He reminds that love is also this:
– when the enemy smites the cheek, to “love the enemy”
-when the hater attacks, “to do good” to that one
-when the takers take, to “give your coat also”
-when the attacker strikes, to “forgive”
-to love the ugly, the haters, the enemies, the ones who’ve wielded blades and broken hearts
And what is love, if only I love the beautiful, the lovable, the adorable, or the ones who love me in return?
Jesus whispers in my ear and tells me a hard thing; that to learn how to love, truly know love, to practice love, I can’t just love the beautiful. I have to learn how to love the ugly, the scathing, the dirty, the enemy who wants to pour hot oil on my head, to burn me with words, or to cause wounds.
And this…this is the place where the seed planted emerges from the dirt, this is the place where love stands tall, and beauty blooms: in the midst of hate.
In the midst of the hate, a glory arises, a heavenly scent, a pleasing aroma, a sacrifice of praise… an action of Love.
Just like Jesus did.
Considering the practice of love, in three beautiful places, that teach me; with Ann:
and with Jen: