Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Here is Love, vast as the ocean....

'I need Thee every hour, no tender voice like Thine can peace afford. I need Thee, oh I need Thee, every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now my Saviour, I come to Thee.' ('I Need Thee Every Hour').
It amazes me that there are no prerequisites, nothing we must do to ready ourselves to walk into the presence of the Almighty God. Indeed, Your presence never, ever leaves, Lord. We do not have to say certain things, pick up all the pieces, or work forward from where we have fallen. No. You bring us in and forward. We do not have to recover lost ground. You nullify that 'lost ground' and hand us Your ground....gained and fully paid for. 
       Oh how I need Thee. 
'The Father in heaven is so interested in His child and so longs to have her life at every step in His will and His love that He is willing to keep her guidance entirely in His own hand. He knows so well that we are unable to do what is really holy and heavenly except as He works it in us, that He means His very demands to become promises of what He will do, in watching over and leading us all the day. We may count on Him to teach us His way, and show us His path in special difficulties and times of perplexity, as well as in the common course of everyday life...He is the only source of wisdom and goodness and is every ready, longing much to be to us all that we can possibly require....If we only saw our God in His love, if we only believed that He waits to be gracious, that He waits to be our life and to work all in us - how this waiting on God would become our highest joy, the natural and spontaneous response of our hearts to His great love and glory! My soul, wait thou only upon God!' (Andrew Murray, 'Waiting on God'). 

I love old dead guys....especially when their writings correspond with old living guys, colliding together in my life in a single day. It is amazing. I have been pondering on the story of the prodigal son (or, rather, God seems to keep bringing it up in my life) ever since I read Tozer's chapter on the mercy of God. Philip Clarke, author of 'A Heart of Compassion' and founder of CAREconfidential (a support network for pregnancy crisis centres in the UK), retold the story. He concluded with this....
'This parable, in just a few short verses, encapsulates the message of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. We sin, doing things to hurt God and other people. We are selfish, pleasing ourselves before others. If we are humble enough to recognise that we have made a mess of our lives, we sometimes think we can make things better and earn our salvation by doing something for God. And yet as we draw close to God, and come back to him in repentance, we find a father who has humiliated himself further, through the death of his son on the cross and, in rejecting our worthless offerings, bestows salvation upon us freely and without reserve. This salvation is a salvation of joy, a banqueting feast, an eternal embrace with the father. Heaven exploads with celebration when one person repents and turns back to God.' Clarke then goes on to quote Brennan Manning, 'If God had a face, what kind of face would he make at you right now? Would his face say "When are you going to pull yourself together? I am fed up with you and your hang ups. My patience is exhausted, we are going to have to do a little reckoning"? If God said only one word, would the word be Repent? Or would he say "Thank you. Do you know what a joy it is to live in your heart? Do you know that I have looked upon you and loved you for all eternity"? What would God say? What is the feedback you get from your creator?' 

It is in this vast and impenetrable fortress of love that we reside, in this boundless and immeasurable love that we can rest. In the spirit of trying to be vulnerable in this wide open cyberland, I thought I'd put up something I wrote several mornings ago (inspired by a few lines of Tozer's chapter).....

The Return
Slowly I walked up the dark street, along the dusty, humble path. I could see the warm lights from the House ahead. A crowd, as usual, had gathered outside; a crowd of half-curious, half-distainful people. How often had I aloofly been one of that crowd, until my great pride drove me away even when I knew I would have wanted to stay?
As I approached the front gate, this pride again rose up as a lump in my throat. What was I thinking? I again self-doubted my ability to actually go through with this decision. It had made so much sense a week ago when I had begun my journey back. But as I had passed through the familiar fields and towns of my childhood, I was no longer as sure of myself. Standing amongst the crowd at the front gate, the unsurity nearly smothered any last vestige of desire I might have to uproot the pride. How could I return to a Home, to a Father, whom I had stormed out on so long ago? I still remember the shouting. The slamming of doors, blinding shoving things into a small bag as I ran out. But I remember the hurtful words the most. Oh those words. the magnitude of their erroneous and spiteful nature weighed heavy on me. I had wanted Him dead, dead for all the things that I did not understand. For all the 'why's' left unanswered, all the hurts left unaccounted. I knew now how utterly wrong I had been. Yet I stood there, listening to the heckling beside me. It would be easier not to approach the door, easier to exclude myself from this party as I had done so many times before. The warm, friendly, and joyful voices inside haunted me, drawing my heart in an inexpressible way; flooding me with memories.
I remembered the innumerable intricacies of that House. The beautiful, home-like rooms full of handmade craftsmanship. My Father had been a carpenter at one point....He liked to make things with His hands. I remembered the dinners, friendly gatherings, and glad hearts that had so oftened gathered around us in that House. Oh how happy a childhood and youth I had had. When had that seed of resentment, that rift, begun to grow? Self-condemnation overpowered me. How could I have let that happen? I had been given such an incredible gift of a Home, of a Father. I had squandered it, thrown the life back in His face, turned my back, and left. More than that, I had hated Him. 
The life I had lived in exchange was no life at all...and now I was returned. Empty-handed. Empty-hearted. I had absolutely nothing to give but a pleading voice, a voice peading for mercy, Would my Father forgive me?....I had nothing else. No other place to go and nothing else to do. I knew that only here would my heart be satisfied again, would I be at peace. I had to try at least. That was my plan, to work for His favour. 
Doubts gnawing at me, shaking with every movement, I lifted the latch on the gate and took a faltering step forward. Halfway to the door, I saw it spontaneously open and the warm, golden light flooded the darkness. And there He was. My Father. I could not see His face for the I tentatively stepped up to the door frame and turned my face upward. He stepped down and the biggest smile erupted over His face, 'Oh my darling, precious daughter!!' He exclaimed in a booming voice, announcing to the world my return. I was surrounded by His strong arms. I tried to whisper out my explanations, apologies, sorrow....He would not hear them, silencing them in one breath saying, 'COME IN'. I could feel the eyes on my back from the crowd, this interchange having silenced them for once. But all of the sudden I didn't care. All of the sudden none of this mattered, and I had a feeling that it would never matter agian. 'Let's get these wet things off of you, you must be freezing, and there's food and dancing to be had...oh, but if you're tired never fear, your old room is ready for you....' He continued in a stream of happiness.
As I stepped through the threshold, His arm around my shoulder propelling me forward, the music, joy, and love overwhelmed me. A multitude of smiling faces welcomed me as He shut the door on the darkness outside. 'Father', I began. He turned His face down towards me, now pensive and thoughtful, '....I don't know what to say or how to say it,' I brokenly started, 'but.....I'm sorry. I know I don't deserve any of this. I never expected it....I'm.....I'm sorry. For all of it. For me. For the words. For the silence....I'll do anything, anything at all to make it up to you.' I had been looking at my feet as I said this, the weight of His arm heavy on my shoulder. As I finished, He turned me towards Him and lifted up my chin.
'Daughter....I know. But there's no need, no need to work at fixing anything up. It's all forgiven. You are my daugther. Nothing, nothing, will ever change that. I love you, I always have. And oh my dear, how much have I missed you!' He broke out into His biggest smile with those words. And as He did so, the inklings of joy at the realisation of what He had said began to grow in my heart. The realisation that no eternity of service or bondage awaited me....but an eternity of joy was rolling out in front of me like the dawn. I smiled, weakly, but I smiled. 
Tears streamed down my face.
I was Home.

How great is HIS faithfulness, my friends?
                 great and big as He is.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


    It has been two weeks of antidotes. Back and forth. Illness and cure. Depression and peace. Sorrow and joy. Mockery and worship. As I struggle to dispell this cloud that has settled over me for the past four or so days, I thought that maybe writing it out would help since I can't seem to discover why it's here. So I begin in a rather selfish vein, I'm afraid. I do so hope you'll forgive me. 
    I think there must be this residue that is clinging onto me. And I am afraid that I choose to listen to it rather than the Voice of truth ever knocking on my heart (....or the mice currently squeaking in between the walls of my room). Why is that? I wasn't particularly going anywhere with that thought....
    ....Or maybe I was. I don't know about you, but I can get so bogged down in the longings and desires of this life. And maybe they're not bad longings. Maybe they're noble ones, ones we were created for. But they're still substitutes. And that Voice is ever calling....
    Oh my brothers and sisters....The grace and mercy of Almighty God is overwhelmingly good. I shall be utterly confounded throughout eternity by it, because IT has existed from before time began and shall exist evermore. Tozer said, 'If we could remember that the divine mercy is not a temporary mood but an attribute of God's eternal being, we would no longer fear that it will someday cease to be....Nothing that has occurred or will occur in heaven or earth or hell can change the tender mercies of our God. for ever His mercy stands, a boundless, overwhelming immensity of divine pity and compassion. As judgment is God's justice confronting moral inequity, so mercy is the goodness of God confronting human suffering and guilt.....' He goes on to say about grace that it is, 'His goodness directed toward human debt and demerit....Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving....Its use to us sinful men is to save us and make us sit together in heavenly places to demonstrate to the ages the exceeding riches of God's kindness to us in Christ Jesus.'  
    The grace of Jesus Christ is the cure - the antidote - of the world. And it is only through Your wounded hands, my Lord, that we might be made whole and healed. 
    'We must keep in mind also that the grace of God is infinite and eternal. As it had no beginning, so it can have no end, and being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinitude.....We can never know the enormity of our sin, neither is it necessary that we should. What we can know is that 'where sin abounds, grace did much more abound.' To abound in sin: that is the worst and the most we could or can do. The word abound defines the limit of our finite abilities; and although we feel our iniquities rise over us like a mountain, the mountain nevertheless, has definable boundaries....But who shall define the limitless grace of God? Its 'much more' plunges our thoughts into infinitude and confounds them there. All thanks be to God for grace abounding.' (Tozer)
    Oh wanderer return. Return to Him and His astoundingly large heart of love. Let His grace lift that heavy weight of shame from your shoulders. It can be almost an hourly thing, I know....and it takes trust. But He is so gentle with our hearts. He is on our side.

     So I have returned to what seems like a theme here....A theme that won't go away no matter how much shame I pile on, trying to bury myself away. No matter how depressed I get, how foggy my mind becomes, how despairing of this world, or how lost I feel, this theme remains. This theme of Christ's everlasting grace....waiting on God. Be still my soul. And sing. For You have taken it all away. My punishment and shame, sin and disgrace, hurt and pain. BE GLAD, and REJOICE. For I have been delivered from my enemies. The King, the Lord is WITH me, and never ever again will I fear harm. My hands will no longer be limp, my eyes downcast, for You, my Lord God are with me....and You are MIGHTY to SAVE. You take an unfathomable delight in me. You quiet me with Your love. You rejoice over me with singing' (paraphrase of Zeph. 3). 

      We have a LIVING HOPE.

Sorry about this post not being quite that put together. I'm not really sure if I was trying to say anything in particular or if I said all I was originally going to say. It just kinda came out....and whatever left, in its place is a peace.

Thanks for listening, little corner of the world. Farewell....'with eyes wide open to the mercies of God' (Romans 12).