Monday, July 11, 2011

Living Lasting Love

"But the more my friend gave, the emptier she felt. Eventually she lost hope and wondered, “Is there such a thing as lasting love?”

My crisis came when I was a teenager taking care of my newly-divorced mom and three siblings.  I was angry, hurt, confused, scared-- and most of all, lonely.  I went to the traditional church my family went to-- but I had a big chip on my shoulder.  The people there assumed I knew Yeshua (Jesus) because I was going,  but I had a huge hole in my heart.  I knew I didn't know G-d and I really wanted to.  I felt like a blind person holding a plug in my hands, searching for the outlet seemingly hidden behind furniture in a darkened room.  Every night I got on my knees and said, "Jesus, come into my heart!"  [I did not know His Hebrew name yet.] 

However, the room never swirled around and the lights didn't go on and  off-- I felt nothing as I waited in the silence.  Discouraged, I kept praying, night after night, trying to find the way IN to find the power, the comfort, the courage, the hope to survive with all the needs I was experiencing day after day.  

One day I saw a made-for-tv movie called  Sunshine  It was about a girl who was dying from cancer.  She was angry, hurt, grouchy, demanding, and not-so-great-looking.  However, she had a boyfriend who deeply loved her.  He decided to marry her, even though she was dying and not that fun to be around.  His commitment to be there for her-- to love her-- to stay by her side-- to take care of her--- all of that made me so aware of my own desire to be loved in that way... to have someone who would love me no matter what.  After that movie, I cried out to the G-d I so desperately wanted to know.  I knew that ultimately no human could give me what I needed.  I realized I needed someone who would never get old or sick or die or find someone else or change his mind.  I knew the Someone Who could be those things for me would be G-d Himself.  He would never get old or sick or die on me.  He would never find someone else or change His mind about loving me-- if I could just connect with Him and know that I had.  

A few months later, I went to a youth group overnight rally in another city.  There was a group of youth musicians up in front playing, but what immediately got my attention was that they were playing one of the John Denver songs from the movie.  However, they had changed the lyrics slightly, so it wasn't about the boyfriend's love for his dying girlfriend, but about G-d's love for people-- and the words felt like they were for me in particular. 

Listen and hear the words as if G-d is speaking to you.  

(John Denver's song "My Sweet Lady" adapted by the L-rd to reach out for me that December day) 

Lady, are you crying, do the tears belong to Me
Did you think our time together was all gone
Lady, you've been dreaming, I'm as close as I can be
I swear to you our time has just begun

Close your eyes and rest your weary mind
I promise I will stay right here beside you
Today our lives were joined, became entwined
I wish that you could know how much I love you

Lady, are you happy, do you feel the way I do
Are there meanings that you've never seen before
Lady, My sweet lady, I just can't believe it's true
And it's like I've never ever loved before

Close your eyes and rest your weary mind
I promise I will stay right here beside you
Today our lives were joined, became entwined
I wish that you could know how much I love you

Lady, are you crying, do the tears belong to Me
Did you think our time together was all gone
Lady, My sweet lady, I'm as close as I can be
And I swear to you our time has just begun. 

I immediately started wiping away the tears (just like I am doing again now).  The Master of the Universe had my attention, and I knew He was talking to me.  He knew how that song epitomized the kind of lasting love I was searching for-- and He was here, offering His love and commitment to me now.   Yet, I still didn't know how to take hold of His promise.  

It helped that there was a flute player up front since I am a flute player also.  I dried my tears, and after the meeting ended, I went up to talk to the musicians.  The flute player had gone somewhere, but the guitarist was still there.  Her name is Cheri.  I said, "I liked the music."  
  She said, "Oh, are you a Christian?"  (She was the first person who asked me if I belonged to G-d and if I knew Him.  Everyone else just assumed I already did.)  
   I said, "No, but I would like to be."  (Don't take for granted that the people around you have a living relationship with the Holy One.  Be alert to ask. )  
   She showed me a "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet.  It turns out that I knew I was cut off from a living relationship with G-d.  I knew that the Bible said that G-d loved people, including me.   I knew that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah through whom I could have atonement, restoration, forgiveness.  I just didn't know how to reach Him. 
  Cheri said that I could trust G-d's promise to accept and adopt me as I trusted His promise.  She read Revelation 3:20  to me, "

"Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If any man hear my voice and open the door,  I will come in to him and will have fellowship with him and he with Me"
  I told her that was the part I didn't understand-- that when I prayed, I didn't feel anything, and so I thought He was still rejecting me somehow.  
   Cheri showed me an amazing verse in the Bible. Numbers 23:19  And in Hebrew

"God is not a man that He should lie neither the son of man that He should repent [change His mind once He's promised]"  Hath He said and shall He not do it or hath He spoken and shall He not make it good?"  

I knew that G-d was asking me to trust Him, to take Him at His word, whether my feelings corresponded or not.  It wasn't about my feelings to test the truth and reality of what was happening:  it was about His trustworthiness and power to do as He said.  He was "knocking."  It was my choice to respond to His invitation and open the door through trust. 

At that moment, I made an existential decision-- that I would trust the King of the Universe regardless of what my feelings were saying.  I decided to take Him at His word.  He was promising to never lie to me-- to mean what He said-- to make me His as I had been asking.  At that moment, I said, "Yes" to  Yeshua and asked Him to forgive my sins, to write my name in the Book of Life, to be my covering and source and truest love.  I said "Yes" to  all that is written in the Bible-- it was all written for my benefit.  I said Yes to the One I could not feel or see but Who had (for my benefit and to reach out to me) 

  • given John Denver that song 
  • motivated people to write and make that movie
  • gotten networking executives to run it that afternoon 
  • shown it to Cheri  and the others on the worship team so they would start learning the song
  • guided the pastor at my church to okay the youth overnight rally
  • given me life, sustained me, and brought me to that season
  • helped me know without a doubt that He was reaching out for me personally that night
  • helped me see that it was by trusting Him-- by faith-- that I could receive from Him-- not by some experience, emotion, or sensory input.  That was the missing key for me.  
When I asked the L-rd Yeshua to forgive and receive me, I didn't hear any thunderclap from heaven.  I didn't hear any Voice.  I didn't have chills and shakes or any physical experience.  However, I did have peace.  I had come to Him the way He asked (instead of some other way that seemed right to me).  I had done what He said to do.   I put my hand in His-- and everything would be alright now despite any storms or confusion or any other obstacle.  

The enemy since then has persistently fought me with "How can you be loved?  Just look at your mistakes!   Look at how others see you!  Look at your weaknesses!"  

In addition, he's used the one he used on Eve:  "Has G-d said?  Is He really with you all the time? Your phone doesn't ring; you're not significant.  No one is looking; eat some more! You are clumsy; your friends won't love you.  Why did you say that?  Why are you like this?  You're not worthy.  He's forgotten you.   He won't protect you.  Does He answer your prayers?  Will you hear anything if you read your Bible today and wait for Him to speak?  How about the Holocaust?  You can't depend on Him!  Better make your own solution!"  

The adversary  is such a liar, such a bully, such a terrorist.  He sees clearly the One I don't yet see.  He knows that his time is short.  Yet he has so much pride and hatred for the Holy One that he attempts to disfigure and destroy His creation and anything He loves-- through lies first (to destroy the power source of trust) and then through other means whenever possible. 

Here is the truth: 

The Holy One of Israel (metaphorically) found me, kicking and squalling and covered with blood, left to die in a deserted field.  (Ezekiel 16) He picked me up and carried me home and cared for me.  He told me He loved me and showed me so.  Yet, He is something like the "Beast" in Beauty and the Beast.  I could not see Him-- He is invisible.  Yet His heart is good, and I can see that as I see what He has done and is doing.  I am a Cinderella He has fallen in love with for His own reasons, and He pursued me and made me His bride.  He says I am beautiful and worth fighting for.   I don't have physical children and am single, but I am fruitful  because His love makes me so.  My song is "Living Lasting Love"-- and I have all the courage I need to sing my song as I listen to His voice and receive what He is giving me, moment by moment, pixel by pixel, scene by scene, breath by breath.  

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