Monday, December 10, 2012

Ever been surprised by love?

Have you ever been surprised by love?  When you least expected it, there you stood, face-to-face with the most selfless display of love extended not toward another, but toward you!  This week was like that.  I arrived to work one day, caught off-guard to be overtaken by a friend from the rear.  In moments, we were engaged in the friendly banter of friends, when all of a sudden, she asked the pointed question about how my Christmas would be this year.  I was so caught off-guard with the question, and the sudden release of emotion it sparked, that I just couldn't even utter a word, or I'd be "leaking" tears in no time!  Those simple words of care released a wave of emotion I had been holding back.  Now, I don't think God allowed our paths to cross by accident, for she sensed the unspoken.  In the simple return of a few moments of silence, she knew exactly what I needed - her prayers!  

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning.  They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.  He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!  (Psalm 18:16-19 MSG)

I think God works this way - catching us off-guard at times, but always with exactly what it is we need.  David puts it as "God reaching all the way from the sky to the sea".  It is easy to understand why he uses the illustration of God reaching from the sky as we associate with God as being in the "heavenlies".  But...why does he associate us as being in the sea?  Maybe it is because when God "reaches in" to set things right is usually when we are "drowning" in some emotional upheaval!  Simply put, God rescues us from that which seeks to consume us!

Look at the words David chooses:  "Pulled me out", "Chaos", and "the void".  These words all suggest some type of "consuming" experience.  No one needs a hand to pull them out unless they are stuck "in" something, with no sure way of getting out on their own.  These places often feel the most chaotic - completely confusing, very disorganized, and pretty all-consuming.  They almost leave you feeling like you are surrounded by a "void" of some kind - some place which only feels empty and without substance.  

David says it is God's hand which reaches down - not to pat us on the head and agree with us in our misery, but to catch us and to pull us out.  Do you see those two expressions used here?  He catches us.  When something is caught, there has been a pursuit.  David is reminding us of the assurance God is in pursuit of us!  There is a plan to intercept us in our path and to pull us to safety.  No amount of emotional "void" is without his notice - he pursues us in order to deliver us.  In taking hold of us, he secures us, bringing us close to him in the journey.

The most amazing thing is the completeness of God's pursuit.  He is not just going to rescue us - he sets us up in a place of safety.  My friend was doing that by reminding me I did not need to speak of my pain in order for her to pray me through it!  Yep, you heard me correctly - she was praying me "through" it!  David says God set him in a wide-open field.  Isn't that what God's rescue really feels like?  To be taken from what seems to constrict and bring only darkness, into a wide-open place where we are free to breathe again!  

We all experience some sense of "void" at times.  The emotional upheaval just seems to be pulling us deeper and deeper, until we feel as though we are drowning in it.  I wonder if God lets us experience a little of the "deep waters" of grief in order to help us understand and appreciate the "wide-open spaces" of his love even more?  David puts it, "He surprised me with his love!"  In the wide-open spaces, don't we often stand there, totally surprised by the delivering hand of our Master?  

Surprised by his love - I think these are words to ponder this holiday season. We may be feeling like the void will consume, drawn down some emotional path of grief because of loss or fear or just plain misery of some kind, but into that very place, God's hand is reaching.  He is gonna surprise you by his love! Nothing makes the grief, fear, or misery vanish as quickly as being surprised by his love!  Just sayin!

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