Sunday, February 18, 2007

Known and loved

It struck me, today... again. I'm fighting off a bout of the annoying emotion that all too often I've let lead me down the path to self-pity and misery. Not so much today; God's grace is sufficient and His joy amazing. There's a choice before, me, of course: to either let the emotions rule, or to let God's truth stand supreme in my life. I'm choosing the latter. And in the midst of it, I'm being awed again by what God has done for us, in our hearts and lives.

Today's been a little off emotionally. I was struck repeatedly by just how much of our lives are lonely affairs. We long to be known; we strive to make ourselves understood - and often fail. Human existence is often a terribly sad thing: it is our deepest desire to be loved for all of who we are, for someone to comprehend us utterly and still love us. Yet we are in a fallen world in which that can never be. We are caught in an existence that leaves us hopeless of ever experiencing that sort of perfect intimacy. There are things about us that others are frustrated or annoyed by, and things about others that frustrate and annoy others. Sometimes we finally start to feel alive and passionate again, and then those around us crush that - quite unintentionally, without even meaning to or even realizing they're doing it. Because we're all so sinful. We can't abide ourselves, if we're honest: the foul blackness of our hearts is beyond discouraging. Our own personalities annoy us at times, if we're candid about it; there are things in us that frustrate us about ourselves. How, then, could we expect that someone else wouldn't have the same reaction?

Yet we have an undying, unyielding desire to be loved that unconditionally: for someone to know the deepest parts of us, to understand the full width and depth and breadth of who we are, and still to want us, not to mock us, not to be amused. That leaves us asking, then, the deeper question. Why? Why, we first ask, don't people love us that way; and then when we begin to contemplate the very simple answer to that question, another, deeper, appears: why would we expect that? When our every experience tells us that no one - not even our spouse, no matter how wonderful that relationship will be; nor our best friends, no matter how close - will ever even know us the way we want to be known, much less love us perfectly and unconditionally... why do we keep expecting to find that sort of knowledge and love?

Lewis wrote that our hunger for God, for things spiritual, is a real hunger - just as the desire for sex, for food, etc. And real hungers have real "food" to satisfy them. If we have sexual desire, it is because there is such a thing as sex. If we have hunger, it is because there is such a thing as food. If we want God, it is because there is a God. And if we want to be loved unconditionally, to be known perfectly, it's because there is unconditional love and perfect knowledge. They're not abstracted notions that have no correspondence with reality. To the contrary, they have the deepest correspondence with reality. Our lives are, in some sense, no more (as if one can call something so magnificent "no more" or "only" and have it mean what it ordinarily does) than perfectly woven parts of the ultimate metanarrative. And that metanarrative is the story of a transcendent God who knows every human individual in all of history perfectly, and loves each of them unconditionally - in spite of their (our!) terrible rejection of that love. We hunger for something we tore away from ourselves in our sin and our rebellion, and God, in His infinite grace and mercy, in His incomprehensible love and kindness, gives it to us still. We are undeserving, and our hearts ache because we know that we have no hope of ever having that deepest desire fulfilled.

And yet -

And yet we find that, hopeless, we have a Hope.

And yet we find that, friendless, we have a Friend.

And yet we find that, loveless, we have Love.

And yet we find that, lifeless, we have Life.

And yet we find that, though every expectation be to the contrary, we have a relationship with Someone who knows the very depth of our being, knows our every weakness and burden and sorrow and pain and all the evil that is in us, and Who instead of turning away as He by every bit of reason ought to rather pours out His love, gives ultimately of Himself to the point of dying: an infinite, unconstrained Supreme One being constrained by the finite bonds of space and time so that He might bring us once again into His presence, where we are known and loved like we could only dream of imagining.

No wonder, then, that we are so disappointed when our relationships here let us down. They were never meant to replace that sort of perfect fellowship. When we try to make them, they will inevitably fail. No. Let them be what they are: blessings that are reflections, however pale, of the immense and magnificent Love that comes from on high, from the King of Kings who is the sacrificial Lamb, from the Lion of Judah who is our Comforter: a strong tower in times of trouble and a mighty warrior who destroys every enemy; who abides within our hearts, convicting and encouraging, shaping us to be like Him, until we can love Him back with an infinitesimally small fraction of the love with which He has loved us.

We are loved. Unbelievable. And true.

God bless, my friends.

- Chris


  1. The topic reminds me of something else I've read lately.
    I'm wondering if there is a connection or what sparked this train of thought in you. Was it a personal experience or was it perhaps based on something recently read such as Oswald Chambers?

  2. Interesting. It was definitely something that came out of an experience in the midst of life, rather than from anything I'd read. Did Oswald Chambers touch on it recently? I haven't been used My Utmost For His Highest for a couple months.

  3. " Let them be what they are: blessings that are reflections, however pale, of the immense and magnificent Love that comes from on high..."

    Very wise ... if we could let others be who they are while still being supportive and encouraging, and receive the same from others ...

    your dad stopped by - i love your parents! - you are a blessed family.

    i imagine it does feel like your parents just won't let you be the man you are sometimes, but i think you'll find, when you look back and see you've been walking the path of "friends," void of parenting, that you will yearn for some of those "parenting" days back.

    the wonderful part of that is that when we sign up to become parents, we sign up for life, so you're parents will always be there for you as parents even long after you become friends.

    on the flip side, i remember my mom saying to me around 15 or 16, "you're ready to go off and live on your own, but the law won't allow that yet. so you have to stay here." my parents could never wait to get rid of me. i could tell you stories that would have you sobbing from the time i was itty bitty, but it's not necessary. though you may feel "overly cared for" by your parents, you are extremely blessed.

    of all the people that God created before the foundation of the world, He chose your mom and dad to become husband and wife, and He chose them to have you and your sisters. He put you all together as He loved you into creation. and your parents have chosen to honor God with all that He has given them ... including you. you are enormously blessed!

    "Let them be what they are: blessings that are reflections" of God's immense love and grace and mercy showered down upon you in ways you will not fully know till you have lived out your whole life.

  4. I figured out what I was relating what you wrote to...

    I'm listening to a teaching by Ravi Zacharias on worship. At one point he was talking about how all the traveling and speaking can be a very lonely time, even though surrounded by thousands of people. After his speaking time is completed, he retires to a hotel room and just feels very alone.


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