It is the essence of Christian love to care for the orphans and the widows, the poor in spirit and the impoverished in heart, the sick in soul, and the discouraged (James 1:27). Now is the time they need to be remembered, now when the ache is most pronounced, when the holes seem to echo. You might say it’s a holey season for them, during these weeks, when Christmas memories are triggered by smells and sights and sounds at every corner, when every occasion seems to highlight the invitations not sent, never received, because mail doesn’t get delivered into the next life.
Disappointments, slights, brokenness in life. Mistakes, but also sins, hardness of heart, dissension. Sometimes I echo Dolly’s words when she says, “I just don’t feel like I have any more hope left in me.” My heart is troubled, and my coordinates don’t register on the radar. I’m lost, with desperation rapidly closing in. How do I know he will come back for me, to take me to him?
The blessing of going into love blind was like a concrete foundation of faithfulness and devotion that no passage of time could erode. The long-term consequences have been the greatest gift of all: I never have to worry about not being enough. Despite what my father had hinted, the most important decision in my life could be made without regard to the acceptability of my appearance. Looks fade; shared interests in fads and fancies wane. Love built on companionship, sealed by Christian integrity, and sprinkled with like-mindedness withstands the battering of discontentment, selfishness, and distrust. (A repost of an original blog post at Servants of Grace)
So many cling to the culture’s fleeting valuations of power and influence when, to the King of the Universe, nothing is more beautiful or worthy than the glowing, affliction–ravaged face of his bride. More than a master sculptor chipping away at a hunk of concrete to create a masterpiece—that is power over the medium. This is love. Jesus tenderly prepares us for the heavenly wedding feast, converting the mud slung in reproach into a sanctifying beauty treatment that softens the heart and fortifies the soul. His glorious light shines through.
We are free from being typecast as the damsel in distress. That’s not your story anymore and it’s not mine. Jesus our Hero has paid the bride price, and it was very great—much too great for the prize to be a defeated, discouraged, withering and wilted damsel still acting as if she’s shackled to her old master Sin. His love is for a bride who loves the gracious and pure bonds of righteousness that unite her to Him.
In the days following 9/11, there was story after story about heroes.
Here’s mine of my failure.
The passage of the ship through the harbor isn’t guaranteed to be turbulence-free, but it is guaranteed to be safe for all who hold on to hope. (This post originally appeared on September 1, 2020, at Servants of Grace, as part of the website’s Hebrews series.)
In our flesh, in our insecurity, in our anxiety, we know very well what we should be doing. And we hate the fact that our will sides more often with our flesh than it does with our mind, where we have stored what we know is true.
But should is really where the beauty lies. We cannot escape the indicatives and the imperatives. The Scriptures are full of should statements, so to hate should is to hate what God has told us in this wonderful letter of love to his children.
Should is there because of could.
In this time of confusion, sorrow, and unrest, when many of us may have forgotten what it’s like to sing with the brethren in worship, there is one thing that binds believers together. We are all learning the same words of the song we will sing together on Mount Zion. Our study doesn’t include traditional methods of voice instruction—no scales or enunciation practice. When we serve one another in Christ through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we leave behind the distinctions that divide. We lay aside our prejudices and idols; we build harmonies and practice heavenly graces that rise up to God’s ears as ethereal melodies. (This post originally appeared at Servants of Grace.)
If you search through the whole creation, could you find any like Him? Are riches, honors, pleasures, or other relationships comparable to Jesus, whom you ought to love supremely? Should not the highest good be the best object of your love? Can you love lesser things, and not the greatest good? Is not all the goodness in the creature but as a drop compared to the sea, as a candle compared to the sun, as a speck of sand compared to a mountain—when compared to the goodness that is in Jesus?