Saturday, 29 March 2008

Words and wishing, and God

The trouble with talking about God is that we all use the same words, but they mean such different things. When many people talk about "God", they refer vaguely to a magical being who decides how everything is, and yet - despite the horror and confusion we see around us - is also somehow good. People talk about love and mean warm, fuzzy feelings that make you want to talk all night and buy flowers for no reason.

The "God" I want to tell of is not God because he or someone else decided that he could be, nor because he won a shootout with the other powers in the universe. He is God because he is Love, and Love is the most powerful force there is. The "love" I speak of is not the thing they make movies about. You know you've encountered it because it sits like lead in your chest. It forces you out of bed in the morning, and half- sets you free and half- kicks your butt until you find yourself choosing to do things you hate doing. It stomps with heavy boots on your pride, and hurts more than anything else has the power to hurt. It's wearying and difficult and sore and will make you grow up if you can just stand it.

So, a God who is Love is not all gumdrops and roses. He is difficult. If we would reach out to him, or attempt to join him in loving, we will ache and weep in bewilderment. But let me say again that, in the end, he alone is enough.

Oh, if I could only draw back the curtain and let you see his vast beauty and his intricate order and his deep warmth... But you've seen snows and sunsets; ocean and sky; stars and dogs - and the eloquence of words must be laid aside when such speak.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Why This Waste?

I'm tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of hurting. Tired of leaving myself bare, tired of feeling foolish, tired of pushing down my wounded, squirming pride, tired of hurting for what seems like no reason, tired of waiting for God to replace my withered love with His strong one. I try to remember - well, half-remember, half-imagine - what it's like to love and hurt and still not need.

I sit outside a tightly closed door and wait. The door was once open to me, and I went in and out of it at will. I begin to forget, just now, precisely why I wait, but Love, that charming child, is somewhere about me, and for what seems like a long time, his presence has been enough.

Pride comes stalking about from time to time, making indignant thrusts and reminding me of the privilege from which I have fallen, and drawing my eyes to a plentitude of other doors open to me which I might more independently go in at. But Love rises up and silences his angry talk with a bold look.

Then Loneliness has a turn at me. He comes smoothly and coldly, laying with chill hands a thin blanket of melancholy about my shoulders as I wait. His pleading suggestion is a whine in the wind, but it matches the rising complaint in my cold heart: If you can't bear it, no need to stay. There are other doors open wide and warm. But again, Love arises in my defence and quells him with a word or two.

Last comes Reason, unsanctified. I hear the ordered measure of his footfall as he comes and it seems reassuring to my ear. He is neither angry nor pleading, but all matter-of-fact, and he seems not even to see me, but addresses Love directly: "Think carefully, my friend. Long have you sat outside this door, to what end? Are you not simply a bother to those inside? When they think of you at all, doesn't your stubborn waiting seem a burden rather than a gift? What can you give if the door is shut?" His unimpassioned charge is swift and strong, and even Love seems to stagger, his childlike trust suddenly made foolish.

Then softly, through the damp and gloom, comes One whose brow is wrapped in thorns, whose hands and feet are pierced and bleeding. He neither looks nor speaks harshly, but before him, Reason knows his place and becomes the humble penitent. Love runs to him as to a father and looks boldly out from amongst the soft, warm robes of the Man of Sorrows.

I, too, am compelled to take my place at his feet, and I remember why and for Whom I sit waiting. It is not for the ones on the other side of the door, but for Him who also waits with broken heart.

Like those frugal-minded souls who watched with only their eyes the glory of One for whom an alabaster box was broken and its ointment poured forth, I have questioned in my heart, "Why this waste?"

And then - a glimpse of Him before whom all is at once broken and made whole; Him before whom there is no waste, though I pour out the whole treasure of my deep heart on his dear feet; Him whose broken heart precedes every other breaking, and whose precious ointment lavished on me is the full of my own heart's store.

I am ashamed that I have forgotten for whom I wait and watch; that I have been deceived by that rogue trio into counting again the cost of the alabaster, into making measure of my precious ointment. Surely there can be no waste for the One whose own blood poured forth is of matchless worth.

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 6:8)