“Love and self-denial for the object loved go hand-in-hand. If I profess to love a certain person, and yet will neither give my silver nor my gold to relieve his wants, nor in any way deny myself comfort or ease for his sake, such love is contemptible; it wears the name, but lacks the reality of love…” C.H. Spurgeon
My words have been muddling up in my head and heart as of late and it’s proving difficult to string them into coherent sentences on a page. I call myself a reflective writer – I have no idea as to the accuracy of this statement but I’m sticking with it.
I usually think hard on some things, wrestle with them, ask too many questions (my husband is a saint), and then once I have some answers and can see the ways that God is working, I reflect and it comes out here.
But what happens to a writer when the answers haven’t come? When the problems sit there unsolved and the ‘in it’ time has gone on for so long now that there’s no time to reflect. And if there was, there wouldn’t be much to say other than – yeah. I’m still here.
It’s been months of seriously’s and now what’s and wow’s and repeated sighs all followed up with, didn’t see that coming.
And I wonder when it will settle. Dare I say, if it will settle. And who am I to hope that it might?
It seems as if this suburban town can trick us into thinking that settled is what we’re owed. Comfort what we deserve. Easy the way it should be and anytime we step even a tiny bit outside of that we pine and whine and count our days until we can get back to that good life we need so much.
Every single person in this little tribe of mine has been smacked over the head repeatedly these last months with our own personal idols. It’s as if God himself just thinks we don’t get it and so – there He goes again – SMACK! If I’m honest, I’m starting to get a little ticked. I mean, I get it. I desire comfort. And rest. And quiet. And simple. And personal space. And just, easy. What of it? Don’t we all?
And there it comes again. Smack. Sure we do. It’s what our hearts want. But should they?
We’ve gone back to the very basics in the bible study time happening ’round these parts. We’ve scaled it all back, all the theologians and deep thinkers and commentary that makes us feel smart and we’ve handed our time over to the best bible teacher around. Sally Lloyd – Jones and her brilliant little “Jesus Storybook Bible”.
I know what you’re thinking. Yes, some of us are nearing the big 4-0 and others of us can nearly vote and even the very youngest isn’t new to the teenage realm. But we need it. The very simple truth that every story whispers the name of Jesus. Our story included.
We did giggle a bit when reading “Hello light! You’re good! Hello sea! Hello sky! You’re good!” Of course we did. But we also nodded along when we read that sometimes the people in the bible make big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). And sometimes they get afraid and run away. Yeah – we do, too. Some of us might have even gotten a little teary when we read that God loves His children – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. Maybe. Just some of us. *whistling*
These words aren’t kid words they’re truth words. And sometimes when we’re in the midst of hard things in life and we’re not exactly sure which way is up, they’re just what we need. Because when we’re in the midst of hard things we don’t need deep theology or trite comments of, “It could always be worse.” We need to know that our Jesus loves us unendingly. Always and forever. That’s it. Nothing more.
We sit around our scratched up old table, dishes from dinner still strewn about and we talk about what’s making us hurt and it’s always the things that hold up a mirror to our hearts. Why is that arrogant person ticking us off? Because we want to be the best. Why does that friends habit drive us crazy? Cause they show us a piece of who we are. Why are we ever frustrated or bitter or upset? Because our idols are being held up in front of us and we’re being asked to smash them and we don’t want to.
When your whole household is seeing their idols it can get a bit much and so we’re learning together and admitting we don’t have it all together – together. We’re asking questions about what it really means to deny ourselves beyond saying so in words. We’re wondering what picking up our cross actually looks like in physical form. We’re wondering if this whole following Jesus thing isn’t harder – a bit more – than we once thought.
We’ve sat around this very table so many times before, declaring we want to follow Jesus and yet we really like our luxury too soooooo – conundrum.
We’re learning ever so very snail-like slowly (maybe) what laying these things down every day looks like. We’re learning that we aren’t so different then the builders of Babel or the erectors of the golden calf. So quickly our pride and our fear and our self-sufficiency all swoop in and we just forget as we create great monuments to ourselves with our time and our money and our very lives.
“A willingness to be inconvenienced is the ultimate proof of love. This is what dying to live means: You love as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced…if I won’t be inconvenienced, I can’t know love,” – Ann Voskamp.
And we wonder aloud to each other if we’re actually willing to live this sort of inconvenienced life? And we’re being challenged daily by what following Christ really looks like in our North American home. And we question if this is truly what we want and yet we all nod our head that we do. It is. We lay it down and our tendrils grasp furiously back at it and we grip with all our might until we lay it down again.
We sit silent and we let our whole selves absorb what it might mean, this death to self, this inconvenient love, this following Jesus and we brace ourselves just a bit to ensure we’re ready for the ride. And we pray and plead for help to lay it all down, to be joyfully inconvenienced and to love in large ways. This day. Choosing moment by moment to lay down our comforts and our need for ease for the joy set before us in following the one who was inconvenienced to death for us. He gave up a throne for us. He came down to this harsh world for us. He bore the cross for us.
Makes our whining about making a meal or sending a word of encouragement or feeding the poor or befriending a widow or taking in an orphan cause we’re just so tired and busy seem silly, no?
“…true love must be measured by the degree to which the person loving will be willing to subject himself to crosses and losses, to suffering and self-denials. After all, the value of a thing in the market is what a man will give for it, and you must estimate the value of a man’s love by that which he is willing to give up for it.” – C.H. Spurgeon