The Oasis banquet was on Thursday night. Cait and I hadn’t been to Oasis since January, but people were asking for us to go, so we went. At first it was just the usual – hanging around, chatting away aimlessly, wishing you could turn the subject to something deeper.
The night progressed, and a few people got up to share about their year. At first they were just encouraging, to hear what God had done. Then Mikhal started talking. At first he was talking about sin, and how those of us being raised in a Christian home can often feel like our sin isn’t that bad, and how this year he’d realized the depth of sin, no matter how small (“You are BAD!” Thanks for that reminder, Mikhal!).
But then came something that was extremely challenging to me.
He paraphrased Romans 9:2-3 – “…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers.” – summarizing it nicely with “Paul basically says he’d rather burn in @#!*% than see these people go to @#!*% .”
And then the challenge. How ‘come we don’t love people like that? It’s more than saying “Here’s my life,” it’s saying “here’s my soul.”
If Paul had that much love, how much more did Christ have? And did not Christ indeed take on the wrath of God so that we could live? I was in tears sitting at my table.
I can’t imagine giving my life for someone, even one of my siblings. I yelled at Candace a bunch this morning – because MY schoolwork was more important than her. Yet she in her innocence brushed it off and went on her way, whistling and singing – because she loves and forgives so much more readily than I myself do.
But Paul loved like that, and deeper. It’s forgiving and saying “Ok, now I’m going to take the punishment for what you just did, even if it means I lose my soul.”
I can’t imagine.
Later in the evening, someone else read 1 Cor 13. A part that’s never really struck me stood out to me – “For now we see in a mirror dimly.”
Dimly. THAT is why I cannot comprehend that sort of love, and why I am not capable of it. We see dimly. We see a shadow, because we cannot comprehend more than that. It’s all consuming like death, because you can’t get your head around it, but you want to. Ezra on Apricotpie wrote an amazing poem about shadows. You can read it here
Whenever you think you’re done thinking about these things, there’s more to add as God reveals more himself about it.
Did you know Moses said basically the same thing as Paul, only in Exodus 33? When Moses is interceding for Israel after they make the golden calf, he says “blot ME out of your book that you have written!”
How many of us can plead like that? “Punish me, but let them go free. Take my soul, but let them live.”
I can’t comprehend it. And I don’t know/what to do with a love like that/and I don’t know how to be a love like that.
It’s love that consumes you because you can’t imagine someone loving you like that, but you know you can’t possibly love like that.
My response? “Help me, God, to love like that!”
There’s hope. ‘Cuz you know what? God’s “Azriel.” “God my help.”
And for that, I’m forever grateful, forever in awe, and forever will these thoughts bring tears.
Forever will I think about Paul’s love being human, and Christ’s, as the love of the Almighty, being far greater. Forever will I think of my sin, weep over my falleness, and then look to the cross and cry still harder because of LOVE.
Because He loved me.
Help me to love like that, AzriEl.
Bail O Dia Ort,
… once your enemy, now seated at your table… Jesus, thank you…
(close to the end of the banquet, we sang that song. Except in certain circumstances, I cannot sing that song without tears rolling down my cheeks. To some, that song is endless joy, and they sing it in complete joy. For me, it’s joy so deep that the smile disappears and is replaced with tears).
(Tonight’s my last Well Group for this year… we’re studying Romans 8. Hurrah for Election! :))