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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Are you broken-hearted?

"Only the broken-hearted know the truth about love." (Mason Cooley)  They say to have loved and lost is far better than to have never even attempted to understand or participate in love at all.  Love is a "messy" kind of thing - sometimes quite a pleasant "mess" and at others kind of devastating to the heart.  I don't think most of us humans actually understand the love of God, though.  We make a pretty feeble attempt to actually understand the breadth, width, and depth of that unfathomable love, but in essence the closest we ever come to understanding his love is to receive it in the first place.  The most profound thing about God's love is not that he is interested in loving those who have "perfect love", but those who are already pretty "broken" in their ability or willingness to love themselves, others, and him!

Some people became fools infected by their rebellious ways, and sickness followed because of their sins.  Afflicted and weak, they refused any sort of food as they approached the gates of death.  In their distress, they called out to the Eternal, and He saved them from their misery.  He gave the order and healed them and rescued them from certain death.  May they erupt with praise and give thanks to the Eternal in honor of His loyal love and all the wonders He has performed for humankind!  Let them present to Him thanksgiving sacrifices
and tell stories of His great deeds through songs of joy.
 (Psalm 107:17-22 VOICE)


To walk alone is to know misery and even a little bit of contempt.  Misery because we are enduring our own company; contempt because we will eventually come to realize our own flesh as pretty vile when left to the devices it can imagine or concoct.  We become fools infected by our rebellious ways when left to our own devices - we challenge what we know we should not challenge, engage in what we clearly know will bring us harm, and even experiment with what we know will not end well.  As I was growing up, there was a book made quite popular among the self-help gurus entitled, "I'm Okay, You're Okay".  It was as though the world was trying to find a way to "accept" all the idiosyncrasies of our poor, fallen character - all those things which "make us the way we are".  The book's author wanted to give people a way to dig deep into their thoughts, experiencing the "meaning" behind them, in the end coming to some realization of those deeply hidden memories.  It was proposed putting "meaning" to those memories would make us "whole" or better individuals.  Uhm...let me just say no "self-help" has ever made anyone of us whole - it is the love of God and his grace that does that!

The good news is that God accepts us the way we are - complete with all of our idiosyncrasies and quirks.  He doesn't love us less because we have them, but if it were possible, I'd imagine he might even love us a little more (but God's love is perfect, so I don't think that it possible).  Grace is based on love and need.  No one seeks grace unless there is a recognized need for it.  For example, as a kid I might have asked mom to forgive me for arriving home late from school because my teacher kept me behind to discuss a project I wanted to work on for science fair.  The "grace" I wanted was because I didn't adhere to the "curfew" set for arriving home.  I knew I needed it - so I sought it.  The amazing thing about God's grace is that even before we realize we need it, it has been extended to us - reaching out to us even when our behavior isn't quite recognized as "requiring" grace!

If what Cooley says is true, then we are indeed made aware of God's love not because we somehow "discover it", but because our need reveals it to us.  Love is understood by those whose heart has been broken by the things life sends our way - the things of our own making as well as those which come as a matter of others doing things which affect us.  The broken-hearted are God's "fertile soil" - he place where his grace can take root.  The moment we realize the devastated condition of our heart, the door opens wide for his love to enter to do what no other "repair" work can do.  We might try to shore up the gaps sin leaves in our lives on our own, but the truth is that grace is the only thing which reliable and consistently bridges those gaps.  Without grace, we continue in our rebellion.  Without grace, we wander aimlessly.  Without grace, we do not ever experience love in the truest and purest form. Just sayin!