I never fail to be amazed. . .

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that God loves me despite my essentially unlovable nature.

Even the best inclined of us has difficulty being around a cocky, self-assured, self-centered young buck who thinks the world is His oyster and whatever he wants is the pearl at the center.

Yes, that paragraph describes me in relation to the God who loves me. Nevertheless, like the loving Father He is, He reaches out to me. He reaches out to me in my sinfulness and in the utter horror that I am. I think about St. Francis kissing the leper, and I see God's gentle metaphor sent to us. Only leprosy is nearly purity compared to the state I often wallow in.

Nevertheless, God loves me. He gives me each day the light of that day. He gives me each moment what is needed to move forward. He gives me my food, my drink, my joy. And always, I fall short in returning to Him these great goods. There is nothing I can do to repay this love but try to love as greatly in return and try to send others into the torrents of His love. As I am swept along, I can reach out and offer my hand to those who cling to the shore, prefering the safer shallows to that divine cataract. And paradoxically our only salvation is in our abandonment to that raging river. The intensity of His love cannot be stilled. It is at once fire and water. In the words of the KJV:

  Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
   Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
(Song of Songs 8:6-7).

Such is God's love. And my strongest desire is to follow His wish--to set Him as THE SEAL upon my heart and THE SEAL upon my arm. For only in utter abandonment to Him may I ever hope to see freedom and light.

Holy Sonnet 14
John Donne

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

I repeat this poem often because its message can never be heard loudly enough nor clearly enough. Our only hope is in His Love and His only desire is for our love--complete, whole, and freely given.

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I really needed that poem today, Steven! Thank you!

It's so easy to turn away from the Lord because I am tempted to think, "You know His ravishing is superior, yet you ignore Him. You prefer worldly loves. Surely He will spit you out of His mouth."

Thanks for the poem and the prefacing comments. Truer words were never spake. It's ever a mystery to me how God can love someone who gives him not the least amount of satisfaction. No doubt it's partly mysterious because I tend to lack precisely that sort of real love.

Thanks so much for that. I've printed it out to tack to the bulletin board over my desk. You hit me where I needed to be hit today.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 10, 2004 8:16 AM.

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