According to Websters Dictionary: To be in love: A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
I had a strange experience for the first time in my life a few weeks ago. I was at church, and I caught a glimpse of a sister in Christ very humbly just serving, and my heart skipped a beat. It felt almost like a crush. I know ‘crush’ is a loaded term, it’s just the closest word I can think of to describe it. The feeling didn’t confuse me, it actually confirmed a prayer of mine.
I’ve been praying for quite a while that God would give me his heart to love the people around me, and that he would give me his eyes to see them the way he sees them.
What I didn’t expect was how that prayer was going to be answered, how long it would take to understand the intensity of that love, or the immeasurable beauty of how he sees us.
You people are gorgeous – inside and out, and it literally takes his breath away.
But, but, but…(I can hear the objections) I know, I objected to this for a long time, too. My physical figure is far from what God originally intended, but worse is the condition of my own heart. How? How can he love me, let alone ‘be overwhelmed’ by what he sees?
Imagine your spouse (or pretend you have one) on the eve of your wedding night, and they were suddenly given the ability to travel back in time to visit you during a really rough time in your life. Maybe it was your awkward teenage years, or when you were depressed over a break-up or when you were deeply disillusioned with life.
You open the door and you see this person, nervous, attractive – certainly, but strangely familiar. They apologize for the intrusion and how strange this will all seem, but they really need you to know something. They awkwardly begin by saying, “You don’t know me yet, as a matter of fact we wont know each other for some time, but I just want you to know that what you are going through now, is shaping you into the person I fall in love with and want to spend the rest of my life with. Just hang in there. I know it’s so hard, but it’s going to be so worth it. Your so beautiful, even now, because I know who you really are inside and I love you.” Then they smile, politely say goodbye and leave.
Maybe that’s how Jesus can look past our current condition and have his breath taken away by our feeble attempts at loving others, serving simply or just trying to get to know him better. He sees us as we truly are – and truly will one day be.
Lysa Terykeurst, also reiterates this idea in her book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, as she told a wonderful story of a trip she took to see Michelangelo’s sculpture of David.
“I stood in the shadow of one of the unfinished sculptures that’s part of this collection aptly titled, Prisoners. And I stared. I tilted my head and let it soak in. I didn’t want this experience to be a gentle breeze that passed through me and was quickly forgotten. I wanted it to be a rush of a mighty wind, not enough to take me down but enough to rip loose the labels wrapped so tightly around my soul. I felt it way down deep. This less-noticed sculpture was me – an unfinished prisoner locked away in a hard place, labeled and on prominent display in a hallway leading to greatness. Then I turned and looked down the corridor a the David, the statue fully chiseled by a master artist. And as I walked toward it, I whispered, “O God, chisel me. I don’t want to be locked in my hard places forever. I want to be free. I want to be all that You have in mind for me to be.”
We’re all unfinished sculptures, but God sees us as finished and your beauty takes our Lord’s breath away.
You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
as lovely as Jerusalem,
as majestic as troops with banners.
Turn your eyes from me;
they overwhelm me.
Song of Songs 6:4-5
He goes on to say that your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead, but we’ll just assume that was a compliment in agrarian societies. (haha!) But hopefully, you get the picture. You are loved and desired more than you can emotionally, intellectually or physically embrace.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3: 17-19
I’m very excited that our church is teaching through the Gospel of Luke on Sundays. Mostly because I’m anticipating what’s going to happen. Many of us are going to start falling in love with Jesus, some for the first time, and some all over again, and that is going to change our lives and the world around us.
Because, when we discover that Jesus is in love with the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginal, the ‘sinners’ and most importantly is in love with us, it becomes increasingly difficult not to fall in love with him in return.
And once we fall in love with him, soon it will be increasingly difficult to not fall in love with the people around us – from our closest circle of family and friends, to our relatives, our enemies, our bosses, our co-workers and little by little, the rest of the world, all the way down to people who we thought we would never associate with.
It may not be in that order – it’s different for everybody, but the result is the same. The love of Jesus empowers us to love fall in love with the world.
Here’s a video of Maya Angelou. Doctrine aside, I wish more of us (including myself) grasped this revelation as firmly as she has.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Bonus vid for those of you practicing Lent this year! (I’m not – but I love this video anyway…)