Jettie and I continue to be overwhelmed by the expressions of God's love to us through this season of testing. Some day, on the other side of victory, I may chronicle some of the thousands of ways He has expressed His love to us, but today I simply want to share my wonder at how the thread of awareness of God's love (and genuine affection for us, for you, for me) has been woven through church history.
Some people may think that "living loved" (Wayne Jacobsen's term) is something that was known in biblical times and then basically disappeared until recently when Father God began reviving intimacy with Him among His people. Not so! I have already given this quote from Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite lay brother, who lived over 300 years ago! Brother Lawrence clearly caught God's affection for him as we can see from this quote from his second letter. "I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King; touched with a sensible regret I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands, that He may do what He pleases with me. This King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence." (This was first quoted in my March 26, 2008 blog).
Now let me introduce you to someone you may or may not have met who discovered God's affectionate love even before Brother Lawrence: Lady Julian of Norwich. Lady Julian was born in 1342! That's quite a while ago, eh? But listen to just a few quotes from her and see if you catch her understanding of living loved.
“…love is nearest to us all. And this is the knowledge of which we are most ignorant; for many men and women believe that God is almighty and has power to do everything, and that he is all wisdom and knows how to do everything, but that he is all love and is willing to do everything—there they stop. And this ignorance is what hinders those who most love God; for when they begin to hate sin, and to mend their ways… there still remains some fear which moves them to think of themselves and their previous sins. And they take this fear for humility, but it is foul ignorance and weakness. … for it comes from the Enemy, and it is contrary to Truth. … It is God’s wish that we should place most reliance on liking and love; for it makes God’s power and wisdom very gentle to us; just as through his generosity God forgives our sins when we repent, so he wants us to forget our sins and all our depression and all our doubtful fear.”
Pretty amazing, eh? And there are many others down throughout history, even in the darkest periods of church history who lived in God's affectionate embrace and encouraged others to do the same. Religion, with its terrible orientation towards performance, always seeks to squelch the power and simplicity of living embraced by Father's affection, but there has always been a witness, a golden strand, of God's love rising from the quagmire of the "religion of Christianity."
How does this apply to you? Why not read the quotes from Brother Lawrence and Lady Julian again and ask God to show you? Maybe you will be invited to probe even more deeply into an infinite love that pursues you only to shower you with kindness. Will you yield to His stubborn advances?
Tom, one of Abba's children