Chapter 8 Times

Two things the Lord has told us;
that He is strong, and He is loving.

And I am living proof.

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’ve just sat down at a local coffee shop with my wife.
Well, it’s actually a coffee shop/restaurant called Fido, and since she
used to work here, it’s a natural choice for spending a soggy Saturday in Nashville.
At the moment, she’s enjoying a BLT and I’m about to destroy
an exquisite succulent pumpkin chocolate chip pastry, known as the PC muffin,
because we’re at Fido, and that’s what you do when you’re at Fido.
And don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. It’s…amazing.

But before I rip into said muffin, I wanted to sit down and actually breathe for
just a few minutes. That’s it. Just breathe. In, out, in, out.
Funny how that’s something I have to take time to do lately.
As if reflection and prayer were not things that come naturally, but things
that must be sought after. Like working to rest, or fighting to take thoughts captive.
Hmmm. I think there’s something to that.

In any case, today, as I sit and listen to my breathing, I’m in awe of two simple things.
God is strong, and God is merciful.
I know I know. Simple stuff. Kindergarten felt board Sunday school kind of stuff,
but for me, it’s just now becoming a reality.
You see, my wife is pregnant. We’re going to have a baby girl,
and I have never been more profoundly aware of the fact that
I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
I really don’t. I mean, I’m sure I put a good front, and seem very composed at times,
but deep down, I really am absolutely clueless. To quote Foreman,
I’m an “amateur lover, with amateur friends. We don’t know what we’re doing,
let’s do it again.”
I have no idea how to communicate with females in general,
let alone raise one of my own.
And on top of that, I’m in this band, and we’re on the road all the time, and I honestly
don’t know how to balance a marriage and a baby and a band and buy a house and do
my taxes and give to the poor….etc, etc.

But what I do know is that God is strong, and that He is loving. (Psalm 62:11-12)
And that simple quiet assurance might just be all I ever need,
especially if I take my own life into consideration.
You see, I know me. I know the desires, and the thoughts,
and the passions that no one else sees.
I see the pride that never dies and I can feel the dark blood that pulses in my veins.
If you only knew what really goes on in my head, you probably wouldn’t even
want to be my friend, let alone hear what I have to say.
And so, it is an absolute mystery that God would be good to me.
That He would carry me through my own confusion,
deceitfulness and sin and bring me to a place where I’m married,
healthy, and pregnant is quite possibly more than I can handle,
and absolutely, more than I can understand.

But these two words help me.

Powerful.
Loving.

God is not loving toward me, because I have deserved it.
He is loving to me, because Christ deserved it for me.
He isn’t good to any of us, because we’re really good at
saying our prayers and really good at loving other people.
He isn’t faithful to us, because we’re faithful to Him.
He loves us, because that’s who He is.
He is faithful to us, because He cannot deny Himself.
That’s who He is.
That’s what He’s about.
And it’s that knowledge that begins to change us.
It’s changing me.
It’s only that knowledge that will allow us to love Him back
in the way that He desires.
“We love because He first loved us.”
As my pastor likes to say,
“Don’t show me a church that loves God and loves people,
show me a church that believes they’re loved,
and I’ll show you a church that God is using.”

And really, that’s the whole message of this song.
The message is that you’ll never be changed by the love of God
until you’re completely honest
with yourself and how undeserving you are of it.
Only when we try to love God will we see our utter inability to do so.
And only when we understand that inability,
will we begin to be in awe of his great love toward us.
In other words, to be a Christian is to live a life of response.

You see, it’s just not that big a deal, if God only loved the people that loved Him.
It’d be nothing supernatural at all for God to merely be good
to those who are good to Him.
Isn’t that what Jesus said?
“you love those who love you, but what profit is that to you?
Even the pagans do that!”
And so this is the mystery.
“God proves His love in this, that while we were still sinners, He died for us.”
And so, that should assure you greatly from your fears today.
Even though you’re a sinner, Christ loves you.
And if you’re really proud of how good you are, this should humble you.
You’re so bad Christ had to die for you.
His love is over and underneath.
Higher than the heights of our purity,
and lower than the depths of our depravity.
And not one of us are without our need of Him.

And so, with this in mind, sitting at this coffee shop today,
I’ll agree with Paul in Philippians 1:6,
“And I’m sure of this, that He who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Powerful.
Loving.
Over.
Underneath.
Inside.
In Between.