Monday, July 1, 2013

You Will Be Loved...

So I’ve been participating in this little Twitter project called Armchair Theology for a few months.  We read a chapter of the Bible each day and tweet about it, and there are 5 or 6 of us who tweet regularly.  We are just about to finish Deuteronomy.
I don’t know that I would have had the patience to read straight through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy without this group, but the promise of a retweet is a strong motivator for me.  Pavlov’s bird, I guess. 
but they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating 
on it day and night.  Psalm 1:2
Um, that’s not me.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no tedious like Old Testament Law tedious.  It’s right there next to listening to my husband talk about binary tedious.  Endless sequels of The Land Before Time tedious.  Going to Walmart with my mother tedious.
And to be honest, it’s tedious because I don’t get it.  It doesn’t mesh with my New Testament, God-is-love spiritual milk perspective.  If God is love, then why are there so many rules?  And such harsh consequences?
So many reasons for Him to not love me.  I will never measure up.
My husband came home from Bible study last week completely perplexed at a statement someone made.  They were discussing the mechanics of sin nature and perfect grace, and one man became totally offended at the conversation.
“You make it sound like we don’t even deserve to be saved.”
“Well of course we don’t deserve to be saved.  That’s the whole point of grace,”  was my husband’s nice logical answer.
There is no logic in wanting to be loved and the whole conversation made me cry.  I hear what that man is saying.  My heart wonders that same thing.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I just want to know that it’s ok for me to take up space in the world.  I need to be sure that God wants me.
My husband grew up remarkably undamaged.  He accepted that he was loved at face value and moved on from there.  I had a different experience.  Love for me was always out of reach.  Never exactly withheld, but never freely available.  Love at my house was tired a lot, and irritable.  It worked all day and fell asleep early.  It was distracted and needy and overworked.  It tried, but it just didn’t have enough.
It had to choose and I could not be first choice.  Must’ve been something I did.
 And this is how things will end up: Just as God once enjoyed you, took pleasure in making life good for you, giving you many children, so God will enjoy getting rid of you, clearing you off the Earth. He’ll weed you out of the very soil that you are entering in to possess.  Deut 28:63
Wow.  What kind of love is that?  Love that can be taken away because I fail to keep some vague and nearly impossible rule of conduct?  Nice.  
But I’m pretty sure that’s the love God has for me.  And He enjoys it, too.  That’s what really gets me.  I must be bad.
If I could be charming enough, easy enough, pleasing enough, then I could be loved.  But if I’m too much trouble, well, then it’s the crabgrass treatment for me, rip up my shallow roots and leave me to wither in the sun.
In the world, love is too often saved for the worthy.  And worthy turns on a dime.  
Or a fair weather friend.  
Or a fickle spouse.  
Or a tired parent.
“You make it sound like we don’t even deserve to be saved....” Well, we save what is dear to us, so really the question is “Could I deserve to be loved?” Because I really, really want to be. 
Can God love me if I am wretched and He is vengeful?  Is He love or is He wrath? 

He is both. 
His nature is holy and perfect.  He cannot mingle with sin, not even a little bit.  He cannot be duplicitous, not even for love’s sake.  God is perfectly just and justice must be served.  
For the wages of sin is death... Romans 6:23a  
Where there is sin, there must be death.  God set the law in motion and, as He holds the whole world in His hands, it must be so.
But He is also love.  Perfect love.  
...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23b
He loved us, you, me, all of us, enough to pour his wrath on someone else.  He poured it on His only son.  So much wrath that He had to look away.  Don’t miss the beauty of it.  It is the wrath that gives measure to the love. 
God is perfectly just, rewarding the good and punishing the bad, always consistent and never changing the rules.  He will not mock us or set us up to fail.  Christ is for real.
And He is perfectly loving, without reason and without limit, no matter where we go or what we do.  He is never fickle or tired.  And He will not quit us in hard times.  Christ is for you.
...Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  
Romans 12:3
Thank you Father that it is not about me, but only about You.  I am nothing and yet You love me.
Stop wondering what you deserve.  Don’t even think about your worthiness.  Don’t you see that none of that matters?  You are defined by who God is and what God did for you and He, my friend, has already saved you.
Accept that you are loved and move on to the promised land.