He comes looking.
He comes full of love and full of mercy.
He finds me in the street, beaten up and covered in dirt.
Yet with His gentle words, He whispers, “Arise my love, my beautiful one and come away, for behold the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.” Song of Solomon 2:10-11
Even when I push Him away, even when I don’t believe the truths He speaks over me, He persists.
He draws near, He reminds me daily of who He is and of His faithfulness.
He reminds me of all the beauty He has shown me and all that awaits.
He comes to me, He finds me and calls me to something greater – to Him.
He continues to love even when I reject it. He is faithful to me even when I am not to Him.
He comes looking for me.
He comes looking for you.
I know I’ve been writing a lot about love lately.
But it’s because I’ve been amazed by how much I thought I knew about love and don’t.
I didn’t know what love looked like, I didn’t know how love felt, I didn’t know what love cost, I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowing others to love me, not even God Himself.
I have come to see how proud I can be towards love.
I am so willing to try to offer it but so quick to push others away when they do it onto me.
For love costs us.
It costs us laying down our pride to realize our need for others.
It costs us letting others care for us,
and letting them know that we need them.
It is easy for me to accept the love of those I don’t really know,
but hard for me to accept the love of those closest to me.
Love costs us our willingness to look past the imperfections of others and see the beauty of their hearts.
Love costs us to do the same thing with ourselves.
Love brings us to see others as God sees them. To realize that they are His creation just as much as we are, just as much as the mountains, as the moving river, as the birds who sing.
To accept the love of a God who created all things is to realize He looks down at us and see’s His beauty, He see’s His beloved creation whom He declares is good.
He see’s someone who is worth His love, who is worth being pursued, who is worth His healing words to wash over and cleanse.
We are being called, being wooed, being reminded that there is nothing greater than His love.
For His love runs deep.
Brennan Manning “The Furious Longing of God”
The story I’m about to tell you is what Larry got for Christmas one year. Larry was someone who by society’s standards would’ve been called ugly. He was short, extremely obese, he had a terrible case of acne, a bad lisp, and his hair was growing like Lancelot’s horse – in four directions at one time. He wore the uniform of the day: a T-shirt that hadn’t been washed since the Spanish American War, jeans with a butterfly on the back, and of course, no shoes.
In all my days, I have never met anybody with such low self-esteem. He told me that when he looked in the mirror each morning, he spit at it. Of course no campus girl would date him. No fraternity wanted him as a pledge.
Christmas came along for Larry Malaney and he found himself back with his parents in Providence, Rhode Island. Larry’s father is a a typical lace-curtain Irishman. Now there are lace-curtain Irish and there are shanty Irish. A lace-curtain Irishman, even on the hottest day of summer, will not come to the dining table without wearing a suit, usually a dark pinstripe, starched white shirt, and a tie swollen at the top. He will never allow his sideburns to grow to the top of his ears and he always speaks in a low, subdued voice.
Well, Larry comes to the dinner table that first night home, smelling like a Billy goat. He and his father have the usual number of quarrels and reconciliations, And this begins a typical vacation in the Malaney household. Several nights later, Larry tells his father that he’s got to get back to school the next day.
“What time, son?”
“Well, I’ll ride the bus with you.”
The next morning, the father and son ride the bus in silence. They get off the bus, as Larry has to catch a second one to get to the airport. Directly across the street are six men standing under an awning, all men who work in the same textile factory as Larry’s father. They begin making loud and degrading remarks like “Oink, oink, look at that fat pig. I tell you, if that pig was my kid, I’d hide him in the basement, I’d be embarassed.” Another said, “I wouldn’t. If that slob was my kid, he’d be out the door so fast, he wouldn’t know if he’s on foot or horseback. Hey, pig! Give us your best oink!”
These brutal salvos continued.
Larry Malaney told me that in that moment, for the first time in his life, his father reached out and embraced him, kissed him on the lips and said, “Larry, if your mother and I live to be be two hundred years old, that wouldn’t be long enough to thank God for the gift He gave us in you. I am so proud that you’re my son!”
It would be hard to describe in words the transformation that took place in Larry Malaney, but I’ll try. He came back to school and remained a hippie, but he cleaned up the best he could. Miracle of miracles, Larry began dating a girl. And to top it off, he became the president of one of the fraternities. By the way, he was the first student in the history of our university to graduate with a 4.2 grade point average. Larry Malaney had a brilliant mind.
For when we truly come to believe and accept that we are loved we will no longer be the same.
We won’t go back to our old ways or the addictions we struggle with.
We will begin to see ourselves past our appearances and no longer hold in high regard the words of others.
We will no longer go back to that street where the King of kings found us on but will walk with Him through them, helping Him do to others as He has done for us.
May we come to Him when He draws near to us and may we begin to ask Him what love looks like.
May we ask Him how to receive love and how to freely give it.
May we seek to not let any pride settle in our hearts but to walk humbly with the One who had all things but gave them up so we could know this love that sets us free, heals us and redeems us.
The cost of love is being willing to receive it and come to know the depth of it.
The cost of love is coming to see how much we truly need His love.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”
“I am my beloveds and His desire is for me”
Song of Solomon 7:10