“...Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so...”
It is a wonderful thing to be so loved. For those who know Him it is... well... wonderful.
I’m a bit of a softy, I guess. And foolish.
I have other faults. I am self-centered, self-important, a know-it-all, an attention-seeking man who doesn’t see the beauty in others that I am commanded to see. And I am far too casual about my Lord.
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why don’t you know? He’s the King... he’ll settle the White Queen all right...”
“She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.
“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her...”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver... "Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”
--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
There is a weakness to my faith. Our faith. We make God safe. He isn't.
The Jews understood that. When one lives under The Law it is a terrifying thing to know you will be judged against a supernatural code of conduct.
Christians have the luxury of being less worried. You see, we are not being held accountable for all we do. We are adopted into a relationship with our creator under the covering, the cloak of Jesus. Regardless of our sins He will welcome us home, as long as we claim that covering. The thing I should remember is that to cling to His cloak with filthy unrepentant hands and not try to honor His sacrifice with changes in my life is an embarrassment to my big brother. He is placed in the position of presenting me to the Father and saying, "Yes Father, this one too."
You see, God, the triune God encompassing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, welcomes us into a relationship under the grace of Jesus' sacrifice, His love.
I don't think He has a choice. He is by nature love. He may be displeased with us, He may be disappointed, saddened, and hurt (even physically hurt, 2,000 years ago), but He loves us because that is who He is.
We are adopted into His family. In Roman times a man could disown his child, unless that child was adopted. It was reasoned that adoption was an intentional act. An adopted child was a member of the family, forever.
Jesus understood adoption. He was adopted.
Joseph showed his adopted son how to hold a saw, how to swing a hammer. Mary's husband showed his adopted son how to hold a piece of wood so it wouldn't slip, so the blade wouldn't jump onto an unprotected thumb. He showed Him what it meant for a man of integrity to take a child that wasn't of his blood, his flesh, and love him, raise him.
That is what Jesus has done for all of us, and that love makes us all feel very warm. So warm and comfortable that we might sometimes forget that to love God is also to fear Him.
There are types of fear. I'm not talking about the fear of earthquakes or lions (and neither was Mr. Beaver). I'm talking about the numinous feeling of recognizing that the Lord God almighty is a being of infinite power and glory and that I am a mortal.
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am."
"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Do you ever feel like you should hide your face? I do. Sometimes, when I worship. Sometimes when I worship I do hide my face.
When I really turn my thoughts to who the Lord God is, I tremble. At this moment, as I type, my heart is starting to beat faster.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
I don't think they were hiding just out of a sense of modesty. I think Adam knew he had become something different. He knew he was no longer a creature who could walk with the Lord, who could talk to the Lord God Almighty. He knew that to look upon God in his fallen state was to be destroyed.
Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.
But because we know that Jesus loves us, we feel we can walk right up to God and have a casual conversation. And it is true, we can. Because the Lord God Almighty, the Living Word, ...Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phillipians 2:5-8)
And so I swagger where I should fall on my face, I strut when I should kneel. Because I have been adopted into a sacred family and I can claim entry through the name of my big brother, Jesus Christ, messiah, savior, friend, I sometimes forget that the universe is held together by a being of infinite love, and power, and grace.
I am an intensely curious person and I love to learn things (I am a resource of vast amounts of useless information). And the weakness that brings out in me is the foolish view that I know more than I do. But the fact that I am constantly learning new details about things I already know proves my knowledge is, and always will be, incomplete.
And that is just in the arena of information. What do I know about things that matter? What do I know about the heart? Even my own heart is a fickle thing that cannot love as steadily as my Lord's. What do I know of compassion? Even my own giving does not include all that I know that I can do, for I know that even on the nearby isle of my children's birth, there are children starving, children going blind for lack of nutrition (I confess Lord, I sometimes love a Starbuck's mocha more than a suffering child). What do I know of grace? Even when I forgive someone a wrong they have done me, even though I keep that forgiveness a secret, in my own heart I puff myself up, thinking that I am noble, good.
Have you seen a styrofoam cup that has been put in a net outside a submarine and taken to 5,000 feet below the ocean's surface? Under pressure it shrinks as much as 1/20th its usual size. My heart, as big and puffed up as I pretend it to be, is little more than a shriveled organ faintly echoing the heart my Lord wants me to have.
Where is my fear, my numinous awe? What would I do if I were transported back to ancient Israel and dared to enter the Holy of Holies? What would I do if I laid my eyes on the Ark of the Covenant, the spot upon which God's presence rested?
God is not safe. He loves me, and He is not safe. I know it for a truth.
Walk somewhere grand, where the work of God's creation is evident, and open your heart to it. Stand on the moss-carpeted floor of the Redwood Forest, gaze across the dizzying void of the Grand Canyon, find a quiet place in Yosemite to watch a rainbow dance above a waterfall as you look through the mist at the half dome and tremble at what your heart is whispering.
The Lord God Almighty isn't safe. But He is good.
I look into my heart, and I can feel Him.
Lord, I repent; I remove my sandals.