Friday, October 29, 2010

God's Love: Part X, "Experience the Depth"

“And I pray that you, having been rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

It is known that in the deepest, darkest oceans lie the scariest monsters of the sea. No one knows all that lurks there. Thousands of miles down under where there is no light, swim creatures with fangs and gruesome fish that eat their prey from the inside out. It is not a place most of us would want to go, given the opportunity.

Ironically, if we’re honest, almost every woman feels a bit that way about her heart. Deep unchartered waters of our past, insecurities that grip our present, painful things we have been through, and the sin we have clung to—not to mention all the labels we carry from these things. Oh how we fear exploring the depths; and we most certainly wouldn’t take our men there to look around, maybe not even our best friend. Heck, we don’t even want to go there ourselves!

If they knew the true me, they would surely run! We feel we are just too much for anyone.

Even those who have joined the women’s lib movement, the one who appears so sure of herself and in control. Both the false confidence and the liberalism are often a mask to the scars that fuel her control and need to compete. Scars that hide deep below the surface.

Our depths seem so dark because of the weightiness it holds. Others have mishandled us, and we in turn have mishandled ourselves. The sin and darkness and all the labels we carry feel like the truest things about us. Who could possibly love us enough to go there? We believe the depths of our hearts may even be too deep for God’s love to reach.

Some of the things we’ve been through, and some of the things we’ve done (or fear we’re capable of doing), feel like hell to us.

But what if…just maybe…God’s love is deeper than the deepest hell?

In Job chapter eleven, we find the deep things of God are described as deeper than hell. That would include His love. The Psalmist in chapter one-hundred-thirty-nine exclaims that even if he makes his bed in hell, lo and behold, God is there! And if God is there, His love is also.

Jesus personally knows the greatest depths; He’s been there. He took on all our sin through the cross. He prophesies of His own death, and how just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, so the Son of Man would be in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40) Because He conquered death (and sin) by rising to life again, and furthermore ascending to heaven, He holds the keys of death and hell itself. (Revelation 1:18)

Whatever dark and scary things you fear lurking in your heart, your Jesus has already been there. He has already conquered the depths of hell, the sin and shame. He holds the keys to unlock the depths of your heart and set you free.

Set us free for what? What if the sin and shame, the wounds and labels really aren’t the truest things about us?

We have heard much about original sin, but very little of original glory. If you’ve been in church much, heard the creation story, or read through all these posts on God’s love, you will remember we were created in the image of God, and that we bear His image. There was a glory about us before the marring of sin. And that glory, His image, is written on our hearts.

He longs to set us free from all that holds our heart captive so He can restore that image. But what might it mean to bear His image? To bear His image as a woman? God knows some of us have tried to make our hearts masculine to survive in this world where the male sex dominates (God’s image on his heart is marred, too.) “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” the saying goes, right? But the world needs our feminine heart.

The full explanation is too much for this post, but since we’re talking about the deepest part of our heart and about love, God’s love, we’ll concentrate on that. If the deepest, truest thing about God’s heart is love, then it stands to reason the same is true of the image He stamped upon us. He gave us the most sacred thing of all, a heart with the ability and capacity to love, and to receive love.

Not just any love, but passionate love. Love is relational, and we are relational to our very core, as God is. We, as women, are not satisfied with just any kind of love, but the kind that relentlessly pursues us and actually desires us. A love that uncovers the darkness and reveals the beauty inside. We long to be romanced, to be fully known, and to know fully. A love that woos us!

It isn’t too much to ask. In this way, we bear His image. We want this because God wants this.

“You will… find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes…” (Song of Solomon 4:9)

“Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”” (Matthew 22:37)

The problem is, we’ve allowed the wounds of our life, both self and other inflicted, those dark and scary, hellacious experiences to convince us that we are too much, and not enough. That we might as well keep those places off limits because nobody, even our own self or God, can handle them or knows what to do with them. Yet we fear being found out.

We’re not willing to go there. But go there we must. It is not as scary as you might think. And we don’t have to go alone.

The same Psalm mentioned earlier also says there is nowhere we can go that His Spirit cannot follow, and no place where we can escape His presence. Jesus is able and willing to go with us to our depths, to heal our hearts and restore His image upon us. Because of His love, God will explore the unchartered waters of our heart that He might reach the dark places within us and usher us back out into the light. To heal and restore the things which were once lost or stolen. By doing so, we are freed to experience the fullness of God’s love, and to love fully in return.

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