'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).....
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 darkness....so 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?
....as great and big as He is.