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Friday, May 31, 2013

Jesus Is Lord


    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
-Romans 10:9 (NIV)

Grant Stubbs and Owen Wilson, from Blenheim, in New Zealand, know that they’re fortunate. But ask them about it, and they would probably attribute their good fortune to something more than luck.
    Grant and Owen were flying their homemade ultralight aircraft when they ran out of fuel. A ridge loomed in front of them, behind which was the ocean. Knowing that they were running out of altitude and landing space at pretty much the same rate, they started to pray. “[We’re] both Christians, Grant explained, “so our immediate reaction in a life-threatening situation was to ask for God’s help.”
    Owen and Grant prayed that they would make it over the ridge in front of them, and that they would find a safe and dry landing spot. The first prayer was answered as the plane glided over the ridge. And then so was the second prayer.
    “We crossed the ridge and there was an airfield, said Owen. I didn't know it existed till then.”
    The pair brought their plane in for a safe landing on a grassy strip beside a twenty-foot sign. No doubt they caught their breath, brought their heartbeats under control – and then one of them noticed the sign that they were parked beside. “When we saw that, we started laughing,” chuckles Grant.
    The sign read “Jesus is Lord” in twenty-foot letters.
    Ever feel like you need a twenty-foot reminder like that? Few of us will ever be in a situation like the one Owen and Grant found themselves in, but all of us have found ourselves facing unexpected crises and uttering desperate prayers. At times like those, it means something, doesn’t it, to believe and to remember that Jesus is Lord? After all, if Jesus is Lord then sickness isn’t. Neither is death. If Jesus is Lord, then neither heartbreak nor disappointment have ultimate power over me. If Jesus is Lord, then my own sin and the sins of others against me are petty tyrants near to overthrow. If Jesus is Lord, then what do we have to fear? If Jesus is Lord, then no matter what else may be true there is always reason for confidence, hope, and peace.
    It’s easy to panic, though. It’s easy, in our fear and anxiety and desperation, to forget what we mean when we say that Jesus is Lord. When we panic, we try to seize control of our lives instead of living in submission to the Lord. When we’re afraid, we tend to fixate on our fears instead of his love and faithfulness. When we’re anxious, we fail to act in faith.
    I have a suspicion that the reason we forget that Jesus is Lord when we’re suffering and hurting and afraid is that we don’t much live like Jesus is Lord when life is going well. We find ourselves giving obedience to the tyranny of the urgent. We bow our knees to our own ambition. We trust in our own strength and competence. We rush to offer tribute to our own impulses. It’s not that we wouldn’t say that Jesus is Lord, and mean it – it’s just that, practically speaking, there are so many other lords that clamor for the right to call the shots in our lives.
    So I guess it’s no wonder that when trouble comes, we can get a little confused. We still look for answers and salvation in our strength and competence, and find that we come up short. We find ambition to be vanity and our impulses to be useless. And if we’re lucky, at that moment, when all our other hopes fail, we come to understand what we really mean when we say that Jesus is Lord.
    And what we mean is simply this: Jesus is Master, and there is no other. To a Jewish person, Paul’s confession that “Jesus is Lord” means that he and God are one – “Lord” was the word Jews used to refer to God without speaking his name. To a non-Jew, to say “Jesus is Lord” was to repudiate the pagan gods and their claims to mastery over the lives of their devotees. “Jesus is Lord,” then, isn’t a pious religious platitude for the air-conditioned, carpeted, and padded sanctuary of a church building. It isn’t a slogan to be emblazoned on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers. It’s more a defiant shout, a declaration of war, an affirmation of trust, a call to hope:

“God raised him up to the heights of heaven,
and gave him a name that is above every other name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-10, New Living Translation)

    To say “Jesus is Lord” is to say that we trust him with our lives. It’s to say that we believe in his faithfulness and hope in his protection. But it’s not just to say it; it’s also to live it out. To live as if Jesus is Lord is to stare down fear and timidity and walk into the world as he did, with our heads up, able to look evil in the face and even accept its hatred and violence if need be, knowing that our crucified and risen Lord won’t leave us alone or helpless.
    To say “Jesus is Lord” is to say that we’ll obey him. It’s to let him call the shots in our lives. It’s to accept his gentle reproofs and rebukes, knowing that he has our best interest at heart. To say “Jesus is Lord” is to leave behind what he says to leave behind, even if it’s near and dear to us. It’s to take up what he says to take up, even if it’s hard, even if it hurts. To say Jesus is Lord is to be willing to carry our crosses in the footsteps of the Lord who carried his cross for us. It’s to love the people around us the way he did: by sharing in their lives, pointing out the many ways in which God is making himself known to them, and serving them in love.
    To say “Jesus is Lord” is to say that, ultimately, we have nothing to fear and no reason to doubt. It’s a calm and unshakable confidence that one day every tongue in the universe will be compelled to share in the understanding that we have already been given. And when our own tombs are split open and empty, we’ll stand and hear – and join in -- the confession of the cosmos: “Jesus is Lord.”
    On that day, a twenty-foot sign will be unnecessary. To say the least.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remember


To the angel  of the church in Sardis write:
     These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.  I know your deeds;  you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 
     Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
     Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.
-Revelation 3:1-3 (NIV)


Remembering is hard. It’s hard because it takes the focus off ourselves and the things with which we’re concerned from day to day. Remembering is hard because it reminds us that what we are and have has at least as much to do with the people and events that came before us as with the people and events that surround us and make up our lives today. Remembering is hard because, in remembering, we shake off just a little the tyranny of Today, Right Now, the Urgent.
     We can probably be forgiven for thinking that our generation is the most important and significant that has ever arisen in the world. Advertisers spend billions to tell us so, after all. Routinely now, we look back on the cutting-edge technology of even five years ago with disdain, laughing about the days of brick cell phones and dial-up internet as though they were the Stone Age. Pop culture dismantles idols as quickly as it can tear down the previous incarnations of the Next Big Thing. Since the Fifties, at least, teenagers have dismissed their parents’ generation as irrelevant and out of touch. The evidence suggests, though, that this dismissal of the past is no longer restricted to those who are creating and developing their own identities. It seems that it may be something that forms and shapes us throughout our lives now: a wholesale rejection of the past for the present and future.
     Here it is Memorial Day weekend, and there will be the requisite sentiments honoring those who have given their lives serving in the military. But, truth be told, for most Americans Memorial Day is significant as an extra day added to the weekend. We’ll cook hot dogs and drink beer all weekend, and in fact not much will be remembered. Places like Antietam, Meuse-Argonne, the Bulge, Pusan, Khe Sanh, Afghanistan, and Iraq won’t be on our minds much. We’re too busy with Now. Too focused on Tomorrow. And too ambivalent of the past, or distrustful of the motives of those who would remind us, or uncomfortable about sharing in the view of the world that past generations assumed.
     But in the process, we lose our memories. 
     Faith is a matter of memory, to some degree. Maybe that sounds strange to you. The words look a little strange to me on the screen, honestly. We want to argue, I think, that faith is about my belief in God in the present. Or my trust in him for the future. The past is the past, we want to say, and faith beckons us forward, into our futures with God. Looking back, we think, can only hold us back.
     It’s interesting, isn’t it, that in a letter to struggling believers, the author of Revelation, John, tells his readers to “remember?”
     You’d think he might call their attention primarily to the future. He doesn’t really do that, despite the way lots of Christians over the centuries have read Revelation. Even his looks forward into the future have a foot squarely in the past. When John shows those hurting Christians what’s coming, he shows them in terms of what’s already past. What’s happening to them is nothing that God’s people through the ages haven’t dealt with, and the outcome for his readers will be the same as it was for those righteous sufferers who came before them. That’s, of course, because the God who was with them that moment when they first opened John’s letter had always been with them. And he’s always faithful.
     And that, incidentally, is why believers read Revelation as God’s word two thousand years later.
     “Remember what you have received and heard,” John tells one of those churches. Contrary to what some of the church growth experts tell us, forgetting the past isn’t necessarily a good thing. Oh, we might well do some things differently from previous generations. But the sustaining heart of any church is “what we have received and heard” - the story of Jesus, and the promises and demands of following him, and the hope of his kingdom.
     Richard Harris, a psychology professor and Kansas State University, has spent a lot of years  studying memory. While we sometimes think of ourselves as either having good memories or not, Dr. Harris says that’s not true. Take remembering names. Some of us might say about ourselves, “I’m just not good at remembering names.” Dr. Harris would say the problem might be that you’re just not interested in remembering names. “Some people, perhaps those who are more socially aware, are just more interested in people, more interested in relationships,” he says. “They would be more motivated to remember somebody's name.” To those who argue that they just don’t have a very good memory, Dr. Harris simply says, “Almost everybody has a very good memory for something.” If you’ve ever had a child who knew how to spell the names of every species of dinosaur ever discovered, but couldn’t remember to do his homework, then you know what he’s talking about.
     Remembering the past isn’t the primary measure of a church’s faithfulness: there’s a lot in some churches passed down from generation to generation that needs to be forgotten. Or, maybe better, remembered and then consciously set aside. But, in the Lord’s Supper, Jesus still says to this church, “Do this in remembrance of me.” And, as Paul put it a few years later,  in doing so we  “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Novel, isn’t it? To point toward the future by remembering the past? Reminds me of the old song, sung to the tune of Troyte’s Chant: “And thus that dark betrayal night/with the last Advent we unite/by one bright chain of loving rite/until he come.” If the language doesn’t quite resonate with you, it’s about connecting the past - Jesus’ death - with the future - his second coming - by the “rite” of the Lord’s Supper.
     Who’d have thought it was possible?
     The past can be a tyrant of course: over people or organizations. So maybe the criteria for remembering the past is this: “Does it tell us something about who we are now, and who we will be in the future?” 
     By that standard, the church must be a remembering people. Even when it’s hard. Especially then.
     Remember what we’ve received and heard. Remember, because in remembering we come face to face with God’s faithfulness and love, and the hope we have in Jesus.
     Remember, and hold it fast, and repent.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Kingdoms


“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)


When Donna Lebano went to Game 5 of the Chicago Blackhawks - Minnesota Wild hockey playoff series, she went expecting.
     Expecting to see the ‘Hawks, who had a 3-1 series lead, eliminate the Wild and move on to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
     And expecting her first child. She was 8 months pregnant.
     Little did she expect that, by the time the night was over, the ‘Hawks would have moved on and her baby would have been born.
     Midway through the second period, Donna went into labor. At a hockey game. Which is only marginally better than trying to play hockey in a delivery room.
     Donna was with her sisters at the game, and I imagine they offered to drive her to the hospital. I don’t know, because if they did Donna didn’t take them up on their offer. “No way was I leaving,” she would say later. “We are a Hawks family. I had to see the end of the game.” And so at the game Donna stayed. She stayed through the second period. She stayed through the second intermission. (Excursus: Why do hockey games have two halftimes? I’m guessing Donna may have asked the same question at some point.) She stayed through the third period. She watched Marion Hossa score two goals, and saw the ‘Hawks celebrate on the ice as they advanced to the second round.
     Then she went to the hospital to have a baby.
     Who, by the way, is doing great. His name is Owen Michael, though I wonder if she gave a moment’s thought to naming him Marion. 
     Or at least Owen Hossa.
     Having never had a baby, I only have second-hand knowledge of this at best. But I was in the general vicinity of my wife when our son was born, and I have trouble believing she would have been willing to spend the first hour or two of that process sitting in a plastic arena seat while 20,000 people screamed, loud music played, and an air horn went off intermittently.  Not that she couldn’t have. It just wouldn’t have come up. Watching a hockey game - or anything else, really - just wouldn’t have been a priority for her in that situation. 
     There come moments in life where we have to make choices. Two paths diverge. Two voices call us. Demands compete for our time and attention. Priorities clash, values collide. One great love won’t allow much room for others. Sometimes you can only tell what your heart’s desire really is by finding out what you’re willing to give up to attain it.
     Jesus tells us, surprisingly perhaps, that following him is one of those moments where two paths diverge. In rapid-fire succession, Luke shows us that Jesus doesn’t invite us to an inspiring Sunday-morning club. He doesn’t offer us five steps to a better career, or a stronger marriage, or a more spiritual outlook on life. He calls us to follow him, or not, but to know what we’re getting into whichever way we decide.
     Tough words. And if those tough words do surprise us, it’s probably because we don’t really understand what Jesus calls us to. We’ve made life with Jesus into a religion, but that’s not what he called it. We’ve made life with Jesus into a school of biblical studies, but that isn’t his doing. We’ve assumed that Jesus is mainly concerned with relieving our sense of guilt, making us feel good about ourselves, giving us something fulfilling to do in our spare time, providing grounds for feeling superior to other folks, or reassuring us in the face of our mortality. We’ve seemed to be under the impression that what Jesus came to offer was a way for us to get in touch with our spiritual sides and be appreciated by those around us as “good.”
     It’s hard to imagine where all that came from. Jesus from the beginning set himself against the religious structures of his day. He turned the schools of biblical studies on their ears. He was just as likely to pile on the guilt as he was to relieve it, and often left people feeling worse about themselves, not better. Ask Peter, or Paul, or, well, anyone who followed him if it always felt fulfilling. Take a look at how mercilessly he punctured the egos of those who would use their religion as grounds for superiority. Lots of people who followed him found their mortality hastened. He never allowed for the idea that our spiritual lives could exist outside the world in which we lived each day. 
     And, by the end, almost no one thought he was “good.”
     Our problem is that the dominant culture in which most of us have come of age has allowed and even encouraged the existence of a polite version of Christianity in which Jesus has come to offer us forgiveness for our sins, and in which the kingdom of God has been turned into going to heaven when we die.
     That version of Christianity allows us to happily go on living by the standards and values of this age, while looking forward to the kingdom after we die. What’s not to like?     
     But Jesus called those who follow him to proclaim that the kingdom of God has already come - in Jesus. It’s already broken into the world and is upsetting the order of things, redeeming and renewing. It’s infiltrating the world in the lives of those who live by its laws and priorities. Even - and especially - when living that way brings them into conflict with the powers that be. It won’t come in completeness and power until Jesus returns. But it’s already calling those who would follow Jesus to choose their path and walk it without looking back. It won’t be easy, because our path is our Master’s path. As always, the world breaks those who live by the rules and priorities of another kingdom. 
     And that’s all right, because it’s in being broken that we witness to the power of God’s love and grace.
     Paul wrote in Romans that the creation is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” as it waits for God’s kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done on earth just as in heaven. And we groan too, he says, as we wait for that same moment.
     Only, some of us have stopped groaning. We’re far too at ease.
     Jesus calls us to a choice. Two paths diverge. Two voices call us. And sometimes you can only tell what your heart’s desire really is by finding out what you’re willing to give up to attain it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

To the Heavens


Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
   your justice like the great deep.
   You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
   People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
   you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
   in your light we see light.
-Psalm 36:5-9 (NIV)


It's nice when someone expresses love for you that they can only quantify by telling you what it exceeds.
    You know what I mean, right? “I love you more than life.” “I'll love you forever.” “There's nothing that could make me stop loving you.” You've heard words like that in movies, in songs. Maybe in real life.
    When Josh was little, and was learning about the solar system, he and Laura had a saying that they used to express love to each other: “I love you all the way to Charon and back.” (Charon is one of Pluto's moons. Get it?)
    Maybe someone has expressed limitless love to you, too.
    Was it true? Did their actions back up their words? Maybe so. But maybe not. It might be that you've heard those words, only to discover too soon that “forever” really meant, “as long as you make me feel good” or that “nothing can make me stop loving you” really meant “nothing but this list right here.” You know how easily human beings can throw words around. You know too well that “limitless” love can get pretty limited pretty quickly.
   It's possible, too, that you’ve never heard words like that. You've wanted to. You've dreamed about it. You've imagined a parent or child or spouse or friend who would promise you limitless love and mean it. But it's never happened to you. Try as you might, you can't think of a single person who would even be willing to say that she loves you without limit.
    Well, if you've heard those words but they turned out to be lies, or if you've never heard them at all, then you need to know that there is someone who truly does love you without limit. He loves you more than anyone ever has or ever will. If his love were say, marbles, there wouldn't be enough space in the universe to hold his for you. There really is nothing you can do to make him stop loving you. And he actually does love you more than life - and he proved it.
    You know, of course, that I'm going to say that it's God who loves you that much. You would probably say that you know that he does, and you probably do. But humor me, because I'm absolutely convinced that if we could be more certain of God's limitless love for us then we wouldn't be so broken and bitter when the love of human beings turns out to be limited and conditional.
    The psalmist piles up words and phrases to describe God's love. “Faithfulness” - he's always there. “Righteousness” - he always treats us right. “Justice” - he's never unfair. The poet says that God “preserves” us and that we can “take refuge” in him. He promises that we can “feast on the abundance of [God's] house” and “drink from [his] river of delights.” But maybe his most picturesque tribute to God's love is that it “reaches to the heavens.”
    “All the way to Charon and back,” the psalmist might say if he was as interested in astronomy as my son was back in the day.
    We think, I suppose, that God's love is more about the next world than this one. We harbor doubts, I think, that he could love us - with all our sins - as much as the Bible says he does. We think of God's love in abstract terms while we think of the love of human beings in physical, emotional, and psychological terms. We feel valued when someone hugs us, or holds our hand, or wants us sexually, or says positive things about us. We feel like we matter when someone does something nice for us or wants to spend time with us.
    God knows that about us, I think, which is why his love is more than words on a page. He has created for us a world that, despite humanity's best efforts to mess it up, is still a beautiful, hospitable, and life sustaining home for us. He has consistently intervened in human affairs, sometimes dramatically, to show his love for us. And he surrounds us with people time and time again who do his work of loving us, caring for us, and giving meaning to our lives.
    Oh, and there's also the whole Jesus thing.
    If the gospel is true, then it means above all that God loves us. We matter enough to him that he would come and live among us. He would suffer hunger and be too cold and too hot, he would get tired and he would get thirsty and he would get sick. He would wade out into the sewage of disease, hatred, violence, injustice, and despair that we had spilled across his planet and pull out people who were going under. And, in the end, he would die like us. And he would die for us, so that in history's greatest paradox we can enjoy life with him.
    Why? Because he loves you without limit. No, it's not that he loves human beings in general. It's not that he potentially loves you, that when your probationary period is up if you've minded your p's and q's he just might toss a scrap or two of love your way. He loves you, right now, where you are, without limit. There is nothing you can do to make him stop. His love for you, right now, where you are, reaches to the heavens. He will never leave you alone. He will never treat you wrongly or unjustly. He preserves your life and offers you refuge in him. And there is a seat at his table with your name on it, where all his delicacies await you.
    Whatever your experience of “limitless” human love might have brought you, God loves you more than any human being ever could. Accept the limitless love that the gospel offers by offering your love in return. Then live in fellowship with the Lord and with his church, where you can begin to experience the love of the Holy Spirit day by day.
    And your skies will be full.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Getaway


“Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
   “and not a God far away?
Who can hide in secret places
   so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
   “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.
-Jeremiah 23:23-24



Don’t ever rob a bank, OK? Really. Don’t. But if you must, here’s a little free advice: screen your getaway car carefully.
    As an illustration, consider the case of a 26-year-old man who held up the VanCity Credit union in Vancouver, British Columbia. The holdup went pretty much as planned, at least at the beginning. The guy demanded money, the teller gave it to him, and he ran out of the building and hopped into his getaway car.
    A waiting taxi.
    You need to know that the holdup took place about 10 years ago now, back before everyone had GPS on their phones and in their cars. Back then, in the dark ages, GPS was unusual. And this is where a perfectly good robbery went south.
    The particular taxi our bank robber had chosen for the occasion was fitted with GPS.
    You can see what’s coming. You can also see why it might make life difficult for a bank robber trying to make a getaway.
    Our bank robber had no way of seeing it ten years ago.
    Arriving just moments after the robbery, the police questioned witnesses who saw the “getaway” and immediately called the taxi company. They tracked the getaway taxi to an intersection just a few blocks from the bank, and the robber was quickly arrested.
    It’d be tough to outrun a satellite, wouldn’t it? They don’t sleep. They have a bird’s eye view of things. They don’t make mistakes, and they can “see” anything. That robber escaped from the bank. He might have eluded the police indefinitely. But he wasn’t going to escape that satellite.
    Remember Jonah, the AWOL prophet? He’s most famous for having upset the stomach of a big fish. But Jonah’s troubles started long before he became fish food. They started when he resisted God’s call on his life and tried to run away. Where do you go to escape God? Where do you go to get away from the One who created you and created the universe?
    I never bought the argument that Jonah really thought he could get away from God. He was a prophet, after all. He knew God’s power. I think Jonah ran because God got too close. He challenged Jonah to get beyond easy religion. He called Jonah’s prejudices and provincial worldview into question. Jonah, I imagine, ran out of desperation. He experienced what David had experienced before him: “I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” (Psalm 139:7)
    See, that’s both our blessing and our curse. We can never get away from God. We can’t hide from him. He fills the heavens and the earth. “You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away...Every moment you know where I am.” (Psalm 139:2-3) David wasn’t sure what to make of that. Sometimes, he was moved to wonder and gratitude that God was so near him: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!” (Psalm 139:6) Other times, he pulled the darkness around him like a security blanket and scuttled for the shadows when God’s dazzling light split the night.
    Can you relate? I can. Many times I praise God for knowing what I need, for coming to earth in Jesus, for giving me his Spirit. I’m grateful that he knows my intentions and my desire to please him. I even pray, at times, that he scour my soul for hidden sin.
    Other times, I’m horrified that he knows me so well. It seems intrusive. But only when I’m trying to hide. Only when, like Jonah, I’m running from what he wants. When I don’t want to deal with the messier parts of my soul, I run. When I don’t want to change my thinking or my attitude, I hide. Yes, I know I can’t get away from him, but sometimes I try just the same. I try because I don’t know what else to do.
    But notice something, first about Jonah, then about God. In the fish, Jonah prays. “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble...” And listen to his nerve -- “O LORD, you have driven me from your presence!” Ironic, isn’t it? The prophet who tried to hide from God winds up complaining that God hasn’t come for him! And you know the story. God came for Jonah. He tripped that fish’s gag reflex and Jonah was saved. Saved, and chastened enough to go and do what God had asked of him.
    And that’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? Even if you’re made uncomfortable by God being so near, aren’t you glad he is when things are tough? Aren’t you glad he’s close when you hurt, when you fear, when you doubt, when you fail? Aren’t you thankful that he ignores your attempts to hide from him and evade him, and in his grace still comes to you?
    Try something, will you? Invite him nearer still. I know, you’re not sure you want him nearer. This is, after all, the God of Sinai, the God of plague, the God of fire, the God who’s been known to strike people dead at the slightest provocation. But he’s also the God of the manger, the God of the cross, the God of the empty tomb. He’s the God who accepted the spit of centurions, the nails of Rome, and the rejection of the people he came to save. David, despite his uncertainties, ends his psalm with a prayer that you should make yours: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.” In spite of his ambivalence about being known so intimately by God, in the end the blessings outweighed the risks.
    I’m not sure that ultimately it’s omniscience or omnipresence that makes it impossible to hide from God. Sure, he always knows where we are. But does he care? We can’t outrun him -- but he could choose not to come after us. No, it’s his persistent, never-failing, never-changing love for us that prevents us from ever escaping him. We can’t hide because he searches for us, we can’t run because he pursues us. Can’t a God who loves us that much be trusted?
    You can trust him, too. Don’t hide from him. Don’t run. Come near, bow before him, and humbly give him access to your heart and mind. Invite him near when it thrills you and when it galls you. You’ll be glad that you did, because he loves you.
    Why would we want to run from that?

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