The Greatest of These is Love

Many times in the past two months my heart has been bursting to set these words down, but as many times it has been cast down by anxiety and fear and I couldn’t bear to write through the pain. The deepest betrayal of my life has brought me perhaps the greatest blessing: the absolute certainty and powerful experience of God’s unrelenting, un-soundably deep love for me. If when Samuel Clemens stood on the riverboat, he took a measure of the depth of God’s love instead of the Mississippi River, his pen name would have been “By the Mark, Fathomless” – and Mark Fathomless wouldn’t have rolled off the tongue or stood out on the book cover like Mark Twain. But how overjoyed I am to cry out, “Mark, Fathomless! Relentless! Flood stage!” Will Mark Fathomless turn this blog into a book? Editors, take note . . . .

Can you see between the lines to my leaping heart, and do you wonder how betrayal can turn into dancing? Two things have become the floor under me: the power of forgiveness and the power of God’s love. From the outset of this crisis, I determined that I would forgive, come Hell or high water, for my own sake and for Jesus’ sake as much as for my betrayers. Forgiveness alone couldn’t support me, couldn’t keep me standing through the torrent that threatens to tear down the foundation of 37 years of my life, and I sensed immediately that I needed God’s love working through me to restore my heart and give me brand new love for my betrayer. I never dreamed that love would come through knowing how deeply I am loved by God, but now I see THAT is the bedrock of my life, and so it was meant to be for all of us.

I hang on to a verse in Jeremiah when I’ve felt the sting of rejection over the past seven months. I remember the “address” to this verse by thinking of it (with only a joke in the waist department and slight exaggeration in the hips) as my measurements: “They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after me. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them . . . . I will rejoice in doing them good . . . . “(Jeremiah 32: 38-41)

Joy I never felt before spills over in me in unexpected places and moments. So many small miracles, seemingly unrelated to the calamity I’m facing, nevertheless tell me that God hears me and delights, absolutely rejoices, in doing me good because he LOVES me! From meeting Robin Mark, a singer whose music on my iPod reduces me to tears and praise on my daily dog walks, to the many times I’ve been a channel of blessing to someone who needed encouragement, to connections with women walking the same road with me, to an outpouring of provision for my upcoming mission trip to Thailand, to sweet conversations with Jesus whispered in my spirit, God’s hand surrounds me, guides me, provides for me, surprises me, gives me “warm fuzzies” and downright belly laughs. I have dared – yes, I do fear and reverance God, BUT I have dared to leap into my Abba’s lap, bury my head in chest, and know he loves it. That childlike confidence in our Father’s love is ALSO, and perhaps truly, to fear and reverence the LORD.

My latest chuckle came yesterday as I ate a grilled salmon taco with mango salsa, and suddenly I sensed Jesus telling me how much he enjoyed eating grilled fish there by the Sea of Galilee. Wow, I was transported to his side, fire crackling, fish sizzling, and I ate the rest of my taco with Jesus beside me in the Taqueria. Do you bristle with religious indignation or with disbelief that I would dare to see myself sitting beside Jesus on the shore as I sit in Tia Rosa’s? My unabashed boldness and embrace of every sweet moment with him comes from knowing in the deepest places within me that Jesus is nothing but love, and he did – and does – all he did and does for me out of love for me. Now I see it as an affront to the cross to question his love for me.

Beloved of the Lord, that love birthed new love, faith, and forgiveness in me, a passion for the one who wronged me that burns through rejection and hopelessness like the fire that consumed the drenched wood and soggy sacrifice on the altar when Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Kings 18:16-39) I know in the depths of my soul that the God who answers by fire – the fire of passionate, forgiving, overcoming-the-Gates-of-Hell love – he is God, and he loves me.

I don’t know the end of this journey yet, but I feel like Merry and Pippin in the movie version of Lord of the Rings when they sat in the branches of Treebeard as the rushing waters of the Rive Isen swept away the evil of Isengard. I sit on the shoulders of my beloved bridegroom Jesus, the true Oak of Righteousness, who says to me, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God. The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 41: 2-3)

I reply to him, as King David did: “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping, your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.’” (Psalm 94: 18-19)

I see now and more importantly know the bedrock truth of 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love has a power greater than even great faith and steadfast hope: knowing how much you are loved heals and transforms and empowers amazing new love within you. Beloved, I don’t know the river sweeping over you or the fire blazing all around you, but you are unceasingly loved by Jesus, and his love will renew your heart and carry you through to love those you never thought you could love, with his own heart.

“And we have come to know and have believed the love that God has for us.” (1 John 4:16)

By the Mark, Fathomless!

A “BUT . . .” to pray: Almighty God, my ABBA,sometimes when I look at the circumstances of my life I just don’t feel your love. Honestly, I’ve wondered if it’s true. How that must grieve you! Okay, Father . . . I see my failures, I hurt because of ________________________ in my life, BUT you say that you love me, and you don’t lie! I may not feel it this instant, BUT I know that when I ask you to draw me in to your love, you won’t turn away from me; you will embrace me joyfully. Father, ready or not (whether I’m ready or not, because YOU always are), here I come!Help me today to KNOW your love for me!

If this blog has blessed you and you would like to contribute to my October 2010 mission trip to speak at a women’s leadership conference in China, you can send a check made out to Outreach – City of Grace, with Rose Jackson China on the memo line, and mail it to:

City of Grace, 655 East University Drive, Mesa, AZ 85203

Check my posts of January and February 2008 to read about my first trip.
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