Only if you want to carry the love . . .
Oh, the relentless heart of God! Four years ago I asked Jesus to give me his heart for my beloved when I felt my feelings for him slipping. I knew it was wrong to let my heart’s flame burn low, and I knew it was my responsibility to “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). My charge alone to guard my heart and thoughts. Yes, that process began in me before the deepest betrayal of my life, and I’m grateful it did. Two things I’ve learned: 1) no one can kill your heart, but you can and do when you poison it with resentment, unforgiveness, selfishness, believing your own misperceptions, bitterness and contempt, and 2) don’t ask Jesus for his heart for someone unless you want implanted in you a relentless love that lays down your own wounds to look deeply into the inmost heart of another life and value that person with a love and with forgiveness that WILL NOT be quenched, period.
It is that blazing passion for us that bared the back and stretched out the hands of Jesus to take the scourge and the nails and say, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Love like that, in those circumstances, at the hands of betrayers and despisers? “YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME” is what “rational” people who look out for themselves say. Look out for yourself, do what feels good and move on and cut your losses when it doesn’t. That’s what most rational people claim and advise to be mental and emotional health. But a note to us in the self-preserving, personally validating culture that is rapidly consuming the world: some choices are not good, period.
Look out for yourself? That’s not what I hear Jesus say, and this is where it gets hard and in your paradigm: “You have heard that it was said,’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ BUT I tell you:Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons (and daughters) or your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
Do what feels good for you. I remember the two older boys who held me under in the deep end of the pool when I was nine years old. I’m guessing it felt good to them to exercise their power and watch me flail. I frankly thought I was going to die. That’s what we do to each other, sometimes on purpose, more often unintentionally (that would be me in some dumb mistakes): we hold on to hurts, lash out and lacerate, exercise our rights and power, want our way and our ends by any means necessary to preserve what we think feels good for us. We see the leak in the boat and decide to take the one life vest and slide overboard instead of helping plug the hole; we look at the one – okay, even two – engine(s) out in a four-engine plane, put on a parachute and bail, rather than putting our body weight to the rudder with the pilot and landing the thing safely.
But the heart of Jesus is relentless, and he comes up loving even after being held under by our “I’m perfectly capable of and justified in and frankly enjoy doing life my way,thank you very much.” He was betrayed and despised, and we still do it to him, BUT HE DID WHAT WAS FAITHFULLY LOVING ANYWAY and came up gloriously victorious, forgiving and giving and breaking down the walls that kept us from the longing to receive us arms of God. Love doesn’t always feel good. TOTALLY IRRATIONAL!
Yes, God’s love IS IRRATIONAL – why on earth would HE give himself for the messes that are us – which makes up a huge chunk of what makes God Holy, and wholly Righteous and Good and Pure, wholly matchless, wholly unfathomable and wholly breathtaking.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
IRRATIONAL? Absolutely! He plugged the hole, put his weight to the rudder, all for relationship with us.
Oh, yes, I’m co-dependent: dependent on this Love Incarnate for my next heartbeat and breath, holding his hand for dear life as I go into the future single with no hope of ever being able to earn enough to support myself, and glad to wrap the tassels of my prayer shawl – his “wings,” his promises – around my hands clasped by HIS as the hand of bride and bridegroom join together in the wedding ceremony. God binds himself to you by his promises and his Son; is that a thought to set your head and heart and rationality reeling? The Creator who spoke infernos of stars and dark matter and gravity and neutrinos and optic nerves and DNA and embryos into existence binds himself to you when you come to him through Jesus. God binds himself to YOU! Then he has the audacity to call you Hephzibah (delighted in) and Beulah (chosen) and rejoices over you! (Isaiah 62: 3-5)
So go ahead and ask for that heart, but be prepared to receive a passionate, unquenchable love for those who’ve done you the most wrong. It will hurt. If that prospect offends you, don’t even ask Jesus for his heart for another. But if you dare to, what he gives you in return is a heart free from bitterness, contempt, pride, anger, unforgiveness, and all the wounds that chained you to the pain of offenses.
Did it get me my husband back? No – dare I risk the wrath of my friends who want good for me in saying not yet. And I admit maybe not ever, my marriage and hopes laid on the altar, but if Jesus asks me to be Hosea, I will be and will rejoice. Go figure when you dare to ask Jesus for his heart . . . . If Jesus doesn’t, then I rejoice that my heart is bound by the promise of my Kinsman Redeemer Boaz himself and his gift to me of a piece of his precious – a word far too small for his indescribable- love.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God,because God is love. . . This is love: not that we loved God BUT that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, BUT if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4: 7-8, 10-12)
Beloved, as John the Beloved would say, that’s a risk worth taking and a love worth bearing.