First, if we continue to picture God as a small-minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy, we flatly deny what John writes in his first letter (4:16)—‘God is love.’ In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity. Secondly, if we continue to view ourselves as moral lepers and spiritual failures, if our lives are shadowed by low self-esteem, shame, remorse, unhealthy guilt, and self-hatred, we reject the teaching of Jesus and cling to our negative self-image. ~Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
“Fear not, O Zion;
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
let not your hands grow weak.
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a Mighty One Who will save;
He will quiet you by His love;
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
He will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
Behold, at that time I will deal
and renown in all the earth.
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
At that time I will bring you in,
before your eyes,” says the Lord.
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,”
says the Lord.
~ from Zephaniah 3
Oh beloved, it is true. And we cannot even begin to comprehend it. Any way we try to grab ahold of this is to fall off into some sort of downgrading of G_d, or a false uplifting of ourselves. But, for us to not begin to see it, is to miss the very heart of our King.
G_d is Reckless.
Oh, you may very well say: “How dare you! G_d is perfect. He is infinitely patient. He is utterly holy. How could you use such a messy – and fallen – word in describing the Almighty!” And… you would be right. Perhaps it is the foolishness of a writer like this one, who has come to the end of his theological rope, to say that G_d is reckless, and impatient.
Or, is it really all of us who get it wrong?
The infinitely Perfect One who has bought us with His blood, has an agenda. He is about the work of making us like Himself. And this process, in the normal human being, is terrible. It involves the actual killing of a man that he might come alive as a wholly new creation.
And then, He doesn’t even slow down. He goes about crushing down all the old defenses our flesh had against Him. He rips our lives to shreds. He disorients us as He sets us on the paths of Life in Him. And to make things even more difficult, we find that our old ways become miserable if we even think about going back to them.
He seems to be in a terrible hurry.
G_d knows the end our lives from the beginning. He fully understands that our tiny little temporal existence is but a few clicks of a clock. We really do sprout up like late spring grass, only to be burned up in the wildfires of a hot summer. And so, this One who inhabits eternity has quite a clear picture of what needs to be done before our process of sanctification is complete.
But there is more.
Can we see it? G_d is in Love with you. He is absolutely delighted at the prospect of having you Home with Him one day. He is exultant over the prospect of sharing His Life with you forever. He is – quite actually – more excited about Heaven, and you being in it, than you are. And, as True Love does, it breaks down any barriers to that Love being consummated!
So, are you looking forward to exploring His Life and Love and Heart in the Kingdom? This fool of a writer is. But, only recently have i come to realize that my desires for Him are NOTHING in comparison to the furious longing He has for each of us. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to see Him for who He is.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian. ~Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.