He Would Rather Go to Hell for Me than Heaven Without Me

Today, I want to pause and remember the reason why I am what I am and why I do what I do.  I am only anything because of who God is.  

God is God.  I know, that is redundant and meaningless.  Unless I take the time to actually think about it.  What does it mean that God is God?  There’s a question I could spend a lifetime answering!  But really.

He would be God without me, without you, without any of humanity, without any creation at all. He doesn’t have to know me.  He doesn’t have to love me.  He doesn’t have to care for me.  But He does.

He could have stayed in His own incomprehensible God-realm and never created or touched me.  But He didn’t.  He breathed life into me and shaped me in His very image.  Then, when I messed up, He did something even more extraordinary.

He humbled Himself to save me.  God became a man.  What?!  Plenty of men aspire to become gods, but who ever heard of the actual real God – the only One who has a right to be God – deciding to become a man?  He didn’t stop there.

Jesus didn’t just come to Earth to tell me what is good and bad and hug me before leaving.  He died for me in the most agonizing way possible.  He allowed himself to be separated from His own being in the Trinity.  He went to the pits of Hell to battle Satan for my life. 

He took my mess and cleaned it with His blood.  He gave me His perfection and made me alive again.  He went to Hell for me because He couldn’t bear the thought of being in Heaven without me.  I cannot fathom the love this means He must have for me.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

~ Frederick Lehman, “The Love of God” ~

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Lovers of His Presence

Everything in our world is constantly changing.  Whether it’s the end of another semester, the beginning of a new job, the warmth of summer, the start of a new relationship, the conclusion of school, the move across the country, the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child, everything is in flux.

In this metamorphosing world, we grasp for anything that is steady.  Even when the things changing are good things, we are still left clutching at the appearing and disappearing.  We stagger and stumble trying to grasp stability, but in the searching we often end up even more impoverished.

A few days ago, a speaker in chapel told a story.  He was out for dinner with his family, and his three-year-old daughter was sitting next to him.  At some point while they were eating, she grasped her daddy’s hand and slipped hers inside.  He looked down at her, thinking she must be sleepy, or even upset.  He was surprised to see her still eating and chatting with her older brother – just going about her business while holding his hand.

The love between this father and daughter beautifully resembles the love between God and His children.  To find constancy in life, we must grip the Father’s perpetual presence as we walk through the change.  God alone is constant – His presence is ceaseless.  So, let’s be lovers of His presence!  Let’s hold on and never let go.  All the shiftings of our world pale in comparison to the eternity of God.

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Vulnerable Love

 The one who sees me most clearly is the one who loves me most deeply.
Over the past few weeks this message has been appearing in front of me again and again. Isn’t it amazing how God teaches us by orchestrating events to reveal a truth again and again? We miss things so easily, but God repeats himself over and over until we finally get it.
So what does this statement mean? The one who sees me most clearly is the one who loves me most deeply?
At heart, it is a description of God’s love. We can all love the people we like. It’s fun to hang out with friends and family, take selfies, and post about how much we love them. What about when we realize one of our friends has a problem with selfishness? Is unreliable? Talks about us behind our back? Or, hasn’t showered in 3 days? Can we love them even when we see them clearly as fallen human beings?
God does. When we love the people we see clearly, despite their shortcomings, we show them a little of God’s love.
What does this mean for the beloved?
Deep love abounds when we let others love us even though we are messed up. That’s scary. That’s vulnerability. We all have faults, and no one wants to put them on display for others to see. Yet, are we handicapping the demonstration of God’s love by keeping ourselves hidden? Are we excluding ourselves from the wonder of deep love with walls of strength?
Maybe. To be loved most deeply, we must let others see us most clearly.
Let’s stop stifling the power of God’s love in each other. Let’s love deeply even though we see clearly. Let’s allow ourselves to be seen clearly so we can be loved deeply.
For more on this, check out Brene Brown’s video about vulnerability:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o
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