Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crazy Love: Jungle

"When Jeremiah voices his hesitation and fear, G-d - the G-d of the galaxies - reaches out and touches his mouth.  It's a gentle and affectionate gesture, something a loving parent would do. Through this illustration I realized that I don't have to worry about not meeting His expectations.  G-d will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine.
"This is the G-d we serve, the G-d who knew us before He made us.  The G-d who promises to remain with us and rescue us.  The God who loves us and longs for us to love Him back."
                                             From Crazy Love, by Francis Chan 

I feel like I'm finally coming awake after a long hibernation.  I'm learning this idea that G-d desires to be close to me, just as much as (and more than) I want to be close to Him.  I feel like I knew this in my brain, but I'm just now starting to learn it in my heart.  It's a very cool thing.  I'm not used to feeling wanted.

It's already changed the entire timbre of our relationship.  I'm not feeling like I'm chasing after a G-d who's marking out a path, ambivalent to the fact that His steps are so much bigger than mine.  Rather, it's much more like Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the sistine chapel, with G-d stretching so far to reach me.

If you follow that painting to the moments after what is depicted, you'll see G-d, finally deciding it's so much easier to reach us if He topples off His cloud and comes some place lower - like when you're trying to reach something under the couch while you're still on it; it's so much easier just to roll off and reach under the couch for it.

Here's another example: It's like when I was in Thailand, hiking to find the Rafflesia Flower.  I was keeping right up with Teak, our guide, at first, even thought the path was quite hard.  But my blood sugar quickly crashed from exhaustion and the unexpected exertion.  I honestly wondered if I would be making it off the mountain.  But Teak did not leave me sitting there, nor did he keep his fast pace, letting me fall further and further behind.
Instead, he took my bag (read "burden," in case you're not good at analogies) from me and slowed to match my pace, letting me lean against him, balance against his shoulder, use him for support, and even went so far as to desperately beg me to let him carry me over the most dangerous parts of the hike.  When I refused, he went ahead of me, positioning himself at the bottom of the steep, muddy slope, between its base and the sheer drop-off at the edge of the path, so that if I slipped, it would be him who toppled over the edge, not me.

This is what G-d is like.  I've been straining my eyes, trying to see Him somewhere far ahead of me, unable to see Him, because he was standing next to me, hands halfway raised, ready to grab me when I slipped.

And it's not that we're discovering this path together, because G-d, like Teak, knows this path like the back of His hand.  He spends as much time as He can deep in this jungle, because yes, it is dangerous, but it is here that true beauty is found.  His people are pushed beyond what they thought were their limits, they discover what they're made of, and He begins refining it.  He knows all this going into it.  He knows each and every dangerous moment of the hike before we ever leave the starting point.  He knows each branch-off and how to find the rare, hidden beauties that can only be found in this jungle.  He knows where to take a few steps ahead of us, so He can position Himself between us and the mud ramp into the abyss.  He deliberately brings us onto the path for which we are totally unprepared, because He wants us to better understand ourselves, Him, and the wonder of everything around us.

Stop straining to see Him somewhere far ahead, and start figuring out what it is that is propping you up in your weakness, because, right there underneath your weary, weary arm is the hand of G-d Himself.

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