The Justice of God

Who can comprehend the justice of God?
Mere flesh, finite, fallen?
No, not I.
I cannot fathom it.

For the justice of God is Holy.
True. Right.
Beyond this world.
Beyond our understanding.

Did He not say,
He longs to be gracious,
And waits on high to have compassion
For the Lord is a God of justice?

Justice for who? I sometimes ask.
How short humanity falls,
Demanding what we refuse to give.
Meting out judgment without fear of the Lord.

I do not understand the justice of God.
The pain and hurt of a broken world confuse me.
Though I confess, the lens of my humanity is limited.
Great Judge, when will Your justice be upheld?

You hear our cries from Your Holy Temple.
Our tears you hold in Your Hand.
O Lord, how I have cried.
Illumine my darkness!

Arise, O God of Compassion.
Do not forget the afflicted, the oppressed,
The widow and the orphan.
The broken and the bruised.

One thing is certain, my King.
You are righteous.
You see all. Nothing is hidden.
Everything is laid bare before you.

Alas, my soul looks up to hope.
For a second thing is certain.
One day, we all will know and face what we cannot own.
The Justice of God.

I Am. . .

I am a sinner. What feels like multiple lifetimes filled with sin is, in actuality, only one life in a fallen world. A fallen world of which I am no longer a member. I have a trusted membership in God’s Kingdom. It is here that I belong.

Sometimes…
I make mistakes. God kisses my tears away.
I fall. God lifts me up.
I rebel. God is my gentle discipline.
I am blind. God is my Light.
I am bound. God sets me free!!

No matter the past, I am still blessed.
I am still chosen.
I am still adopted.
I am still accepted.
I am still forgiven.
I am still redeemed.

For My Brother’s Wedding

Last week, I had the great honor of reading the below untitled exploration of Love at my brother’s wedding. I’m so proud of the man he is becoming! When my brother first asked me to read something at his wedding, I felt a near panic!! As a single woman who has never been married, I cannot know personally the ins and outs of marriage. What would I read?! After weeks of procrastination, it occurred to me that though I may not have personal experience with marriage and intimate relationship, I have personal experience and intimacy with God, who is my Husband and Lover, as the Scriptures describe. I began to jot down notes based on my knowledge of Him, who is Love. What you read below is the result of those notes. I know God has oceans more of Himself to share with me. May He always find me willing to seek out the depths of His majesty and grace. And may He bless my brother and his new wife through the revelation of Himself in their relationship.

In the beginning, there was Love.

Love transcends time and conquers death. It was the beginning.

Love is more than a moment, a passing feeling of passion. It extends to the depths of our souls; the foundation of our being.
It is life.
It is eternity.
The reason we were made; the reason we live.

By design, we long for the intimacy of another. After all, “It is not good for humankind to be alone.” We were created for partnership. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one. . .Naked and unashamed.” Two, intertwined. Inseparable. No longer “I” or “You”. Only “We” and “Our”.
Love is relationship.
Love is together.
Love is unity.

Love is purposed for expression. Not restraint or confinement. Love soars on the wings of freedom. It is to be given and received simultaneously. Not earned or bought or paid back, but lived.
A choice.
A commitment.
A promise.

Love raises a white flag to let go of pride.
It stands at the door and asks you to stay.
It surrenders,
Yet fights for the other.
Love gives itself away.

Love is arms wide open, never closing. Never turning away. Love whispers in your ear, “You are mine. I am yours. I am here. I will be your shield in time of need. I will be your armor-bearer. I will lift you above the crowd so you can see. I will support your arms when they become heavy. I will carry your burdens. I will be your companion. I will protect you from the storms. I will walk with you through the fires. I will catch your tears and lead you to safety. I will live so you can shine.”

When all else fails, when all others disappoint, when the grave beckons, Love will remain.

In the end, there is only Love.

Renouncing the Care of Ourselves

I love those moments while reading when the words or an idea just jumps off the page! This morning I was reading excerpts from Life and Teachings by Catherine of Genoa (a text I plan to purchase in the near future!). Catherine briefly describes this idea of “renouncing the care of ourselves to God.” I read this passage a couple of times wanting to grasp its full significance and I’m confident it will inhabit my meditations for sometime.

How often, in the most holy of causes, do we wrestle with sin (temptations, imperfections) in our own will and strength? It’s through the love of God and His Holy Spirit that we are able to recognize and find conviction; yet, how often do we attempt to deal with it by human means! The desire is noble, but so human. Our Great God must look upon us and chuckle. I imagine there is also a brokenness as He whispers, “my child, let Me help you.” The revelation of sin is supernatural; therefore, the answer, the remedy, the transformation must also be supernatural. Let go caring for yourself, prompts Catherine. Trust your care into the arms of Christ. It is He that leads us to perfection.

Psalm 100:3 – Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Perspectives 7: On Devotion

For these weeks that I have been studying the letters of Bro. Lawrence and the writings of other early Christian writers, I have pondered in awe over their experiences that led to such devotion for the One, True God. (Spending much time in Asia among polytheism and animism the reference to God as the “One, True God” holds special significance to me. It is one of the truest Truths I know.) Devotion. This word possesses a power capable of penetrating the soul. The very image and nature of devotion has alighted my spirit this morning as I sit in meditation on the God of Love, the God who creates the stars in the heavens, the mountains of the earth, and the depths of the oceans. Of all His wonders, it is hard to fathom that I, so unworthy and ungrateful, draw His attention. Not only does He answer when I call, but He draws heartily near. What a gift is His sweet Presence!

Perhaps over these past weeks of study I have been too focused on the mere (I daresay worthless) act of devotion and have given far too little attention to the object of devotion. I confess a bit of shame here. Odd that one seeking a greater level of intimacy with Divine Majesty would focus more on the path than the prize! Alas, this is human nature – a nature of works and human effort. Grace. Today, however, I taste a new freedom in devotion: God, Himself.

It is liberating! I am removed and only He exists. The troubles and cares of this world fade away and my inner soul is filled and consumed by Love. As Bro. Lawrence might say, I am practicing the presence of God. It is a practice, a discipline, a developing habit. By no means is the study I endeavor a waste, though for many days at a time, weeks even, I feel I have made little progress. I will press on. . .”so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12 – the namesake of my blog). I am in pursuit.

And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to GOD, which I may call an actual presence of GOD; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent and secret conversation of the soul with GOD. . .Bro. Lawrence

P5

As I continue in this journey toward greater intimacy with the Divine Presence, the Spirit of God reveals a transforming fire for which I am both hopeful and fearful. I tremble. My spirit longs to love God with more than this finite flesh is capable; a love, a union that transcends the natural world and embraces the supernatural. How I thirst!

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63: 1)

Though I seek His Presence all the day long, there are times, some great, some small, when I cease to look up. I take my gaze away from the only One that matters. I take His Presence for granted. You see, I know that when I look back, He will still be there. Grace. Jesus walked in daily communion with His Father. He knew God as we can never know Him (and how I desperately long to know Him). How precious must His Presence have been to the Son! How great the sacrifice when Jesus took on the sins of humanity, became an object of abhorrence to His Father, and found He was no longer in communion with God. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” The utter cry of His soul must have been devastating to the Father. It is devastating to me now. I can neither imagine such loss, nor even consider bearing it. Yet in this triumphant moment of the Son, the veil was torn and all who desired could enter the Presence of God. Jesus experienced the absence of God so that I might never experience such grave loss.

Bernard of Clarivaux writes:

To shame our sins He blushed in blood;

He closed eyes to show us God;

Let all the world fall down and know

That none but God such love can show.

I greatly desire to grow in the knowledge and love of God. To continually be in His Presence and rely on Him for all things. Brother Lawrence says the “greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is upon Divine grace.” As my soul professes love for the Living God, I profess also my dependence.

Prayer:

Thank You for Your Presence that I strive always to practice. I seek You each day anew. Forgive me for taking Your Precious Presence for granted, for turning away to things that matter so little. May the work of the Cross be ever before me. Remind me, O Spirit that lives within, of the gift of Your Sacrifice. Be my Divine habit! Let all my thoughts begin and end with You. Teach me how to love You in the Kingdom Among Us so that I might love you all the  more in the Kingdom that is coming.

Perspectives, part 3

There is a great cost to discipleship but in the end, when all things are measured, the cost of nondiscipleship is far greater. How costly to live a life enslaved to the world, enslaved to the flesh, enslaved to corruption! This is death. In this light, I would pay any cost for a life filled with love, true love, the love that penetrates all darkness and fear, the love that brings safety, the love that lifts to the highest heights, the love that causes our hearts to beat and sing praise. The love of God, the reason we were created. His love is life.

Why, then, is the battle so arduous between flesh and spirit? Ah! That is the crux of life, is it not? Jesus says to find life, you must lose it (Matthew 16:24-25). Plain and simple. Yet once is never enough. No, the battle between flesh and spirit is never ending as long as flesh lives. Therefore, the rise of each sun requires a death in exchange for life. We must crucify our flesh along side Jesus knowing that what we experience He also experienced 100-fold and more.

I am struck by the immeasurable love of God and the measurable love I have for Him. I seek so much more. In fact, I insist there be more! There must be. There is a promise from God that says if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. If I may imitate Brother Lawrence in any area of his life, let it be his love for God. Like him, I am determined to apply myself (my heart, my inner self) to nothing but Him and to love Him only.

Perspectives, part 2

“. . .when [Brother Lawrence] had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to GOD, I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss. . .after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”

This is a perspective I seek. It demonstrates that our identities are not enmeshed in our actions and/or the results of our actions (either falling or victory), but in Christ alone. Our security is not in what we do, but in Christ. Therefore, if we fall or fail, our security as sons and daughters of God remains in tact. His love for us does not falter. Likewise, any victory we celebrate is not due our own effort. Nor does does it cause God to love us more. The victory, in fact, belongs to Him. He extends His grace in that He celebrates His victory with us as His beloveds.

I could spend a lifetime in this text (Practice of the Presence of God) and urge all who want to experience a deeper love for God to read and meditate on the conversations with Brother Lawrence, a lowly kitchen worker and exalted son of God.

Prayer:
Whether I fail or succeed, may all I do point to the glory of Christ, our Lord.

Perspectives from Bro. Lawrence

Today I begin a journey of rest. Not rest in the physical sense, but a journey to enter the rest of God – a promise I intend to claim (Matthew 11:28)!

I began a devotional reading of Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God. What devotion he demonstrated! What a model! Brother Lawrence (Nicholas Herman) was an unlearned, low class man who was admitted as a Lay Brother to an order of Carmelites in 1666. He had a remarkable conversion experience at the age of 18 that propelled him into a love with God of unmatchable proportions.

Not making it beyond the first page of this text, I find myself in utter awe and astonishment of his love and devotion to God. His great disappointment in God is this: “he had desired to be received into a monastery. . .so he should sacrifice to God his life, with its pleasures” but he “met with nothing but satisfaction” in his sacrifice. Truly, he embraced the Apostle Paul’s perspective that all things are loss compared to knowing the glory of Christ (Philippians 3:7-9).

This simple man also shares the value of continual conversation with God and how shameful it is “to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.” What wisdom!

O Lord, create in me a heart designed only for You. May I consecrate my time and my heart to knowing and living by Your Truth. Keep me in Your Presence, O God.

Children of God

I wonder if we sometimes take it for granted that we are “children of God.” More rightly spoken, that we can be called “children of God.” In order to understand the value and worth, the great honor and privilege, the humbling magnificence of such a claim, one must intimately know the Father. Otherwise, it is simply a phrase without depth or meaning that one bystander might state in passing to another.

The Apostle John knew what it meant to be a child of God. He knew Jesus personally and therefore knew the Father. He exclaimed, “see how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). How great a love!! Can we even fathom such a love? The truth is, we cannot. Our finite minds cannot comprehend the love of the Father, the triune God, without the grace and power of the Holy Spirt. Even then we barely touch the cusp of his infinite love for us, which is more than enough to sustain our hearts and minds on the journey to Christlikeness.

To be called and known as a child of the Most High, the Creator of All, the Lord and Savior. . .what a sweet gift! Yet what fear accompanies it! I reference the fear of the Lord, that awesome understanding that He is God and I am not, and that my life is for His pleasure and will to be done vice my own. So I pray raise me as Your own, dear Father of the Stars. Fill me with Your wisdom and instruction. As the psalmist sings, “make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4-5).