Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Leaning into Love.

I close my eyes and see him, sitting tall, back straight, a slight sway forward and back as he moves in rhythm with the Spirit, maybe a hand up to his chin, a position of prayer and intercession as the service moves forward... Then his hands come down and his fingers press into the keys, his touch full of sensitivity and control, as the piano sings his song...

Last weekend, I returned to Truro to visit mine and Lynn's church family, where we had served in ministry for ~6 years. It had been over a year since my last service there, and our family welcomed us with such love, some tears, and lots of joy.

Lynn came alive to me again in that place, in the service that he used to plan, lead, prepare... with the people we loved and served... His presence was everywhere. I could see him, smell him, hear him... almost as though I could reach out and touch him.

I sat in his empty office. I walked where we had walked. I worshipped with those we had worshipped with... And this time, I was there with Brent.

I find it unbearably difficult to embrace such a mixture of emotions all at once. My soul groans as it continues to be stretched, to a greater capacity for pain and a greater capacity for love... I worry about others and how they will feel or experience these changes...

I find loving in the midst of sorrow to be... difficult. Unnatural. Excruciatingly vulnerable.

Typically, we tend to deal with emotional pain by building walls, setting boundaries, learning new coping skills... But to love fully as Jesus loves... To love with a love that covers a multitude of sins, that lays down its life for his friends, that is patient and kind, that rejoices with the truth, that always trusts, always protects, always hopes, and always perseveres... the kind of love that never fails (1 Cor 13) embraces pain.

This is the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. This is perfect love. Love that never pulls back and hides to protect itself, but always reaches out beyond its own realm of comfort to protect someone else. Love that grows in the midst of suffering, instead of withholding itself in the midst of pain...

I believe this kind of love is only possible when we have hidden ourselves in God, are resting in the secret place of the Most High (Ps 91). I think this is the true definition of boundaries. When we live in the shadow of His wings, in the fortress of His peace, we don't have to withhold love to protect our own heart. It is being guarded and hidden in Him, in that place of living water and eternal life. Sin and brokenness cause tremendous pain, but we can keep loving knowing that we will not perish. Love will overcome. Love will never fail.

I feel excruciatingly vulnerable stepping into this new relationship. Stepping back into old relationships, with people and places where Lynn and I were one, stepping now as someone new or changed... Daring to love again has been just about the hardest part of this whole journey. Building up walls of isolation is destructive long-term, but easier. Letting one's heart grow cold and hard... causes deep despair, maybe life-long depression. But still, its easier isn't it? Easier than suffering?

For me, love is a part of living. God is life and God is love. These two are inseparable.

Still, even now, I work to "choose life in the through". Presently, this seems to require a willingness to expose my heart to more and more love, which feels like more and more suffering...

Through excruciating pain comes immeasurable joy.

This work that God is doing in my heart is supernatural. It is not humanly possible. I am incapable of this kind of radical change and transformational healing...

I am leaning into Love.


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  2. I so enjoy reading your articles. God is truly giving you some wonderful insights into His love and healing. You are a beautiful person and we pray for you often. I just lost my dad this winter. He went on to be with the Lord. My mother is struggling with the loneliness of being alone after 60 some years of being married to him. I just sent her a video sermon from Rick Warren and thought maybe you would be blessed by it too. I would like t try to figure out how to get your writings to Rick Warren because I think your insights could be a blessing to him as well. Enjoy.