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Searching Out the Depth, the Length, the Width of His Love (And Never Finding the End)

March 2, 2009

I am uncomfortable with letting God love me because I can’t figure out His love.
And when I don’t understand things, I resist them.

When I think about God loving the world, I tend to think in very “big picture” terms. He loves the world, He loves the widows and orphans, the lilies in the fields, and the sparrows in the air. But when I think about Him loving me, like truly, intimately loving ME, that picture gets very, very small. I suppose I’ve always thought of God’s love in the way that I see my mom loving me; He loves me because He is somehow genetically engineered to think everything about me is wonderful “just as it is” — sort of a tolerant, ruffle-your-hair kind of love.  He loves me because He’s God and has to — in my head, He loves me but doesn’t actually want me. In reality and most importantly, in truth, nothing about God’s love is half-hearted or apathetic. Rather, His love is gentle and quiet, wooing me when I put him at a distance, and fiery and jealous, willing to use everything from sunrises to prophecy to convince me that I am drenched in His fiercely personal love.

He doesn’t just love me. He desires me, He wants me, He longs for me and will pursue me until the earth crumbles to dust. Not because He has to, not because He’s trying to be nice; He loves me because it is who He is. He seeks me, His beloved, His daughter, His bride, because there is a place in His heart for me that no one else can fill. If He is a God that is never-ending, then His love can never be quenched; even the whole of humanity could not use up His love, fill up the places in His heart that hunger for us. And realizing that is like the most painful joy you can imagine — painful because I still cannot understand it, and joy because I know in all its majesty, it’s true.

There is this amazing place in downtown Grand Rapids called the Bridge Street House of Prayer. They run a free coffee shop for people in the West Side neighborhood, have community living houses, and also hold different classes and gatherings in a room they call the “Tabernacle,” including prayer and worship on Saturday nights. My roommate Rachel has been going for a few weeks, and I tagged along this week. In short, it was an amazing and humbling experience. I am still baffled at how I can feel so comfortable and close to God in a room full of people I don’t know. I suppose I could sense that everyone else was there was bathed in a Spirit of love and grace, and it made me feel more okay with falling to my knees, broken, confused, angry, and without answers. Feeling that we have to come forward with our angel halos firmly in place dissuades a lot of people from be willing to be broken and to admit that we desperately, desperately thirst for Love that we cannot explain or understand. No one wants to be the one on their knees when everyone else is standing. It is quite a different experience to look up and realizing that no one is looking down on you, but rather is curled up next to you, with hands spread out, begging for grace.

This week, one of the guys who lives at the Bridge Street HOP began speaking during the worship. He said that he believed that there were people there who needed to hear that they were loved. After awhile, he just began repeating, “He loves you. He loves you, He loves you, He loves you.” In all of my stupidity and stubbornness, in my manic need for control and answers, in my selfishness and apathy, He loves me. I spend a lot of time telling other people that Jesus loves them, but rarely stop to hear what My Father, my Shepherd, my Lover, is whispering to me.

I pepper Him with questions all the time: “Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I nice enough? Am I busy enough?” He listens in the greatest patience, as I scrawl my broken-record confusions in a journal and never tires of providing the same answer: I am enough so you don’t have to be. You are beautiful because I made you that way. I am always, always coming back for you.

My last year in university, I took my one and only night class. The class would usually wrap up around 9pm and I would bundle up, head out in the cold and snow, and walk home as quickly as possible. Between the cold and the imaginary rapists hiding in every bush and darkened doorway, I would take shortcuts through the library and scurry home in a rush. One night, I decided to hell with the cold and rapists and took the long way home. It was snowing those big, fluffy flakes that look fake and it was quiet enough to hear them falling on top of each other. They were sticking to my eyelashes and the tip of my nose, and I just began laughing. Not just silent chuckles, but full-out belly laughs. I was a little girl, giggling with delight and dancing a waltz with the falling snow. I stopped and looked up into the never-ending night sky, deep and dark, filled with snowflakes that were coming from nowhere and everywhere. It filled every inch of the air without force or pressure; it was the most natural thing in the world and I couldn’t see an end or edge of its reach. It was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen.

“I love you this much, Caroline.”

I stopped. While it wasn’t audible, I knew very clearly that I was not the one who said it or thought it. It had come from a whole Other place but it was the dearest voice in the world that spoke it. I knew that voice — it was as familiar as breathing to me. I had just stopped listening for it.

That is where He finds me each time. Not in my busyness, not in my anxiety that I’m never doing enough, not when I am striking a pose in my balancing act; I feel like I don’t need His love then, not when there are things to do and balance to be maintained. He finds me in my exhaustion, in my silence, in my solitude, in my shattered, messy, tender and wounded places that I won’t grieve for. I stopped feeling loved when I hold my hands over my ears to the Love that is writing symphonies around me. But He will never stop telling me.

I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Liisureet permalink
    March 4, 2009 4:25 pm

    I really love your blog and it gives me so much!
    Everything what you write about helps me to know better God and figure out, why are things how they are.
    And also your blog is so touching! I cant read, how many times I have found myself in tears, reading your blog, so I am very grateful for God, that I accidently found it.
    Even I can see, that God loves you and it is so beautiful!

    Liisu, from Estonia:)

  2. Caroline permalink*
    March 4, 2009 5:21 pm

    Liisu,

    I am so glad that you have found my blog too! I am honored to have a sister in Christ from around the world reading what I write. We serve a pretty incredible God, and I love that it’s something we can share!

    Thank you so much for reading and for leaving me a comment to let me know. It means so much.

    Be blessed!

    Grace and peace,
    Caroline

  3. Sandra permalink
    March 6, 2009 1:47 pm

    I know I’ve heard that Song of Solomon is “God’s love letter to his people,” but I really have a hard time believing that. It’s about sex. I don’t think it’s about God. Maybe about what God created people to do, but no, it’s about intercourse.

    But that’s just what I think.

    Hey, I get to see you tomorrow. Breakfast.

  4. Caroline permalink*
    March 7, 2009 8:07 am

    I agree, I think it’s definitely about sex (between people) but in a way, it also shows the immense love that is meant to exist between people, because of the intense love that God has for us and created us in. I don’t know if that makes sense. But I definitely think it’s way more than a metaphor for God and His people. I mean, how could it not be?

    I can’t wait to see you today!!! 🙂

  5. Caroline permalink*
    March 23, 2009 10:09 am

    Ok, I came back, reread the part I wrote about the Song of Solomon, and realized you are entirely right.

    It’s definitely no metaphor.
    It’s a whole buncha sexy talk. In fact, I’m not sure I’d want God talking like that to me — seems kinda kinky.

    So I took it out.
    Good call.

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