when LOVE descended…
November 16, 2017
I stumbled upon a sermon today that had an intriguing title about pain in life. To my surprise, I was lead to 1 Samuel 1. I chuckled under my breath as I am well acquainted with the story of Hannah and her cries to the Lord for a child. I’ve actually used her very prayer to express the same longing for a child. I listened as a beautiful depiction portrayed how El Sabaoth, the God who commands the heavenly hosts, willingly bends low enough to hear the cries of a human heart. Her heart was so desperate to carry and hold a child.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.”
1 Samuel 1:10
God graciously granted her request, above and beyond what she even asked. Samuel, her son, the great judge of Israel was the product of Hannah’s cries to the Lord and His ultimate provision.
I realized as I finished this well timed sermon that our story God is creating is filled with many things that demonstrate His character and His goodness. It is a story of hope, grace, peace, suffering, praise, compassion, gentleness, faithfulness but ultimately it is His love story to me. I swelled as He reminded me of his deep, intimate, passionate, unfailing love He has for my lowly human heart, that deserved nothing short of death, yet in His exceedingly abundant grace He constantly showers His favor over me. Oh how i love the great I AM!
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now i know in part, then i shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:12-13
November 16, 2018
I began a book a few days ago called, Love Came Down at Christmas. I couldn’t put it down and have found myself finishing the final remarks just today. I find this timing to be of providential design as my journal entry from one year ago ends with 1 Cor. 13:12-13. This book takes the well known “love” chapter of the Bible and places it into the context of Jesus descending from His throne and humbly taking the human form of a newborn. The theme throughout, “because He loves us, He kept coming down.”
From heaven’s throne to the trough of cattle, from the praises of angels to the kneeling messiah on behalf of an adulterer, from the glory of God’s side to the washing of His disciples’ feet, from the glorious riches of another world to dying a criminals death on a cross, He kept coming down.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
The love story I spoke of a year ago, continues. Ryan and I speak a of word of blessing over each of our children. It is a blessing of character that is unique to them. As I held our lifeless Tyler, Ryan looked at me and spoke the word of blessing over our 4th child, “love.” We will learn to love like our Savior.
What a challenge. But what a life to live as we attempt to model love that comes down. We see now only dimly.
In Sinclair Ferguson’s book, Love Came Down at Christmas, he says, “Today we see Him dimly in the mirror of God’s Word…the reason we love reading its pages is because we see reflected in them the face of our Savior…one day we will not need the Bible, we will not need the mirror that is so essential to us here, for we will see Him face to face.”
Ferguson goes on to explain a dream he had as a young man. He found himself entering heaven and a number of friends he knew were waiting his arrival. As they crowded him, he proclaims, “Let me get to Jesus. I want to see Jesus!”
Eternity is more real to me than it ever has been. I have asked God multiple times to allow me to see Tyler. I’ve asked if he would give me a dream and let me see his face full of life. I have not been granted this request and after reading Ferguson’s words, well, I’m left only with tears…I’m asking to see the wrong face.
As a child I used to sing a song called “Open my Eyes Lord.” It was so simple, so short, so beautiful, but so on point with the sacred ambition of life…
“Open my eyes Lord, I want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch Him, and say that I love Him.”
I would repeat it until I would fall asleep. It’s only now that I realize the importance of keeping those lyrics on repeat.
And when that day comes when we see Him face to face, we will also know in complete fullness. What a promise! I am amazed at the concept that my little Tyler has complete knowledge of the triune God.
“One day, when you look back on your life from the vantage point of eternity, you will know fully. You will at last see the details of your life in the context of God’s grand narrative.” -Ferguson
Let me jump back to Hannah. Let’s even set aside the fact that she bore the judge and prophet of Israel. Do you suppose when she entered eternity that her eyes were open to the millions of women who have shared her longing for a child to fill their womb? Do you suppose that she knows in full how many other women have taken her very words she spoke to God and claimed them as their own prayer? Do you suppose she knows how many hope-filled women hold so tightly to the fulfillment of her request that God provided? Knowing in full might just bring the temporary sufferings and waitings in this world into proper perspective. It might actually cause us to look into the Savior’s face and humbly proclaim, “it was all for You and Your love for Your people.” Ferguson uses the word, “afterwards.” Understanding typically comes following the circumstances in which we find ourselves squirming.
I’d like to think that I am experiencing some “afterwards.” I’d like to think that the favor I spoke of a year ago is God unraveling me to see His love is unchanging but it changes me. Which brings us to the finale of the love chapter.
“the greatest of these is love.”
I hesitate to even attempt to capture in words why it is the greatest. Love leaves us transformed. I can write nothing better about the transformative way of love than what James Young Simpson wrote…
“I looked and saw Jesus, my Substitute, scourged in my stead, and dying on the cross for me. I looked, and wept, and was forgiven. And it seemed to me to be my duty to tell you of that Savior, to see if you will not also, ‘look and live.'”