Love (III)

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d any thing.

“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let me shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

– George Herbert

“Our thoughts are not Your thoughts O Lord, and our ways are not Your ways. We confess to You that we cannot see Your divine hand in the suffering of Madeline. Help us, we beg You, to see that in this evil there is some purpose, beyond our grasp and comprehension. Our minds are confused. Our hearts are in distress. Our wills are lost and weak, and our strength is gone, as we see this innocent creature caught by the sins of the world and the power of the devil, a victim of senseless suffering and pain. Have mercy on this child, Lord, have mercy! Do not prolong the agony! Do not allow the pain and suffering to increase! We know not what to ask You; give us the grace only to say, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Give us faith, for we believe, O Lord; help our unbelief. Be with Your child Madeline, and suffer with her; heal her and save her, according to Your own saving plan, established before the creation of the world. For You are our only hope, O God, and in You we take refuge: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

What are you seeking?

What do you really want?
What are you dreaming about having?
What’s fueling your hope for the future?
What’s capturing your attention most?
What are you focusing your reading on?
What are you searching the internet for?
What are you spending your time and money on?
What are you making plans to pursue?

What are you seeking? Your answers will tell you what you love.

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:3–5)

In many of the families I visited nothing was certain, nothing predictable, nothing totally safe. Maybe there would be food tomorrow, maybe there would be work tomorrow, maybe there would be peace tomorrow. Maybe, maybe not. But whatever is given – money, food, work, a handshake, a smile, a good word, or an embrace – is a reason to rejoice and say gracias. What I claim as my right, my friends received as a gift; what is obvious to me is a joyful surprise to them; what I take for granted, they celebrate in thanksgiving; what for me goes by unnoticed became for them a new occasion to say thanks… And slowly I learned. I learned what I must have forgotten somewhere in my busy, well-planned, and very “useful” life. I learned that everything that is, is freely given by the God of love. All is grace.

– Henri Nouwen

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

God does not merely count us righteous in Christ, while actually feeling disgusted with and repulsed by us. The same God who legally justifies us is the One who yearns for us from the core of his deepest being. As Thomas Goodwin reminds us, God’s children must know that their sins do not push God further away from them; they pull him closer, like a father who wants to embrace an afflicted child.

– Dane Ortlund

“We pledge our love, first and forever to You – from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health – until death once and for all marries us to You.”