Friday, August 26, 2011

Letting Him Love Me

Everyone calls him Papa. To tell you the truth, I actually don't know his first name.

He has been blind for ten years due to a cataract surgery that didn't go according to plan. But Who is sovereign? He spends his days in rest. Watching his wife take care of him is like getting to see the wind blow back a veil that covers an ancient treasure. I hope, if God desires for me to be a wife, that I will serve my husband as joyfully and sacrificially as she serves him.

I was blessed to spend five days around him. Every day we would sit and be. Just be. I liked to hold Papa's hand and he liked to get a feel for the size of my fingers, wrists and arms. He seemed to love my thumbnails, and his hands functioned as his eyes to discover what my hair is like.

As of now, there are very few people in the world who, when I sit around them, make me feel like I am sitting around Jesus in the flesh. Papa is one of those people, and I told him so. This was especially true the other night. Let me set the stage for you:

My heart was weary that night, having exited the honeymoon stage of this journey earlier that day. I felt pierced by the bumps in every road and the HEAT and the way every honk of a horn got under my skin. I couldn't stand the worship of nothing and the pride of the spiritually dead and the lust I see in the eyes of so many men here, whether or not I look at them directly. I was paralyzed by the fear of losing relationships that are precious to me because it happened last time I lived in this blessed country. The persistence of the ones who beg boiled me like a pressure cooker and cornered me into helplessness. The suppression of the beauty of these women made me want to scream. But most of all, I was terribly amazed at the massive darkness that so blinds and deceives these love-thirsty hearts into bowing down to something that doesn't even breathe.

And so I sat.

I sat on the ground next to Papa and reached up to take hold of his hand. He knew it was me. He rested my hand on his knee and held it with both of his hands. He felt every cuticle, just like he always does. He was getting a feel for the size of my small arms, again. He didn't know it then but he was comforting me. He kissed my hands more times than I could count and held my hand to his face, nearer to him.

I sat with him as I sit with Jesus: Sitting to sit and nothing more. Being. Getting loved. Healing, though I know not what from.

I was simply letting Him love me.

When no one was looking I kissed his feet. HIS feet. I could hear his (His!) soul sing a delighted sound as he immediately embraced me with a hug and rocked me back and forth in his arms. I remained on my knees on the ground. Covered. He kissed my head and hands incessantly, calling me his daughter, his doll. He said, "I am your Papa," with such delight in his voice and on his face.

All of the love that I've known to be real became visible and tangible to me in that moment. And now I see more: Jesus was kissing Papa's feet. Even more than that, I saw the love of the Father, Son and Spirit poured out from each to the other through us.

It was one of those times when I knew that "if" Jesus were sitting there in the flesh, He would have been doing the exact same thing. And so would I -- kissing His precious feet.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love With Skin On It

"Aren't you glad to know that Jesus loves you?"

"Yes, I'm glad to know that Jesus loves me, but sometimes I want to know love with skin on it."

This exchange happened between an American and an orphan in Kenya.

Love with skin on it. That child wasn't the first to think of that concept. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Love became flesh.

The past year and a half I have been living in a love that makes me -- mostly, yet not always entirely -- unafraid to lose. Recently, though, He has been nudging me into a realm that is not only unafraid to lose, but voluntarily sacrificial.

He knows this well. I will know Him there. I wonder what I am about to know -- really know -- of Him. Jesus. He has scars. Those precious feet...I can't stop thinking about them. So I will live bent low and grab hold of His feet and veer into the scars that were born of love for you and for me.

"Not many people love sacrificially without having to," said a beautiful and recently acquainted friend of mine. It resounded within me.

In Turkey, He sparked something in me that I hope remains as long as this heart beats inside this flesh. In everything, I want to expect to die and expect to raise the dead.

Expect to die. If I am expecting to die, I won't hold back in the ways that I let Him love through me. It will be free and sacrificial. Hopeful, because the Kingdom is at hand.

Expect to raise the dead. If I am expecting for the dead to come out of their graves (physically or spiritually), I will always (need to) be dependent and fixated on the glory of His resurrection power. His is the power above all powers. Praise and triumphant joy are certain side effects of that.

Do you see the love laced throughout both of those hopes?

He is love. He came as love with skin on it so that very skin could be pierced through and ripped from His body. I have so much more to learn of love -- of Him, and how He loved me, and how He loves me every day. I sort of feel like a sponge. I soak in His love and wring it back out. I absorb it to know Him and I pray that it may drench the world with the same awe-inspiring power that has so enamored me.

A friend of mine has been praying this, and now I am too:

"Holy Spirit, lead us into such radical intimacy that it shakes and heals the earth."

The way I see Him is unspeakably captivating and irresistibly alluring. He gave Himself up.

He gave Himself up. There are three verses in the NASB that have that exact phrase. Each of them follow some form of the word "love."

Galatians 2:20 - ...the Son of God...loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Ephesians 5:1-2 - Be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 5:25-26 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word.

In praying for India, I keep hearing "love." The passage in Ephesians 3:14-21 keeps coming to mind...understanding together how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to know the love that surpasses knowledge that we may be filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God. That is amazing.

This is all a gathering of the thoughts He has been thinking loudly with my mind of Christ. I don't know what it is going to look like -- or feel like -- but I am so filled with joy and peace from the God of Hope. His grace gives me confidence that I will know His love even when I do not portray it. There is such freedom in living because He loves me instead of living in order to get Him to love me. I may not always love, but I will always be loved. He is relentless. I've been calling it "loving by faith": praying that those I come in contact with would be transformed by knowing more of His love, while being mindful that I am not a necessary element in that equation but giving myself up for it anyway.

Live loved, dear ones, live loved. Letting Him love you is the way to love Him, because He who loves His wife loves Himself. Those who are in Christ are an inseparable member of His body. It really is the best news ever.

Leaning in and living loved,