A Tender Pursuit
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” --Ephesians 3:17-19
I love this prayer of Paul's because He is praying for those that already know (you, being rooted and established) God's love to know its magnitude. It speaks to my journey of realizing the enormity of the love God has for me, one that I'm sure hasn't ended yet as it seems to take a lifetime to grasp.
I've had the knowledge of God's love for as long as I can remember. I knew what the Bible said from growing up in the church, and giving my life to Him early. Still, that love hadn't penetrated my heart. In a time and place when we almost exclusively look at things individually, I saw His love as communal (it is, by the way). God loved Kristyn because God so loved the WORLD. I struggled to know His love just for me. My struggle came from years of condemnation. I knew what God said about people, about our worth, but I couldn't take hold of that because He was just one, while a lifetime of people taught me otherwise. One day, that all changed...
Sitting in my dingy basement office (as a pastor no less, one whose job was to tell others about God's love), I was having a particularly bad day (depression is something I've struggled with for years). I was clinging to every bad message I had been sent, owning it. I was even spouting off the condemnation to a friend via text message. For every nasty thing I said about myself, she responded with the truth, but I didn't believe it. Eventually we both stopped. She began to pray and I pulled out my Bible and read Psalm 139. This was a passage I had read often, but that day I was drawn to a particular part.
“How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you” (17-18).
As I read those words, the Lord spoke to my heart. "Kristyn, I might be just one, but my thoughts toward you far outnumber the thoughts, feelings, and messages of others." I was undone! I sobbed. I thanked Him and also repented for my unbelief. After I had collected myself, still sitting at my desk, pondering this new realization, God told me that He wanted me to feel the magnitude of his love. I heard a loud noise, like rushing wind and a crashing wave, and the force of wave colliding with my body nearly knocked me out of my chair.
Almost three years later, this experience is still so precious to me. It has given me the strength to endure much, ugly things things that had I not understood God's great love would have surly been my undoing. I'm not even sure I would be alive today. And yet, God had more...
Over the last year, a friend has every now and then shared a verse with me about God being a husband.
"For your Maker is your husband-- the LORD Almighty is his name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." Isaiah 54:5
I have always thanked her for the sentiment and the reminder, but inwardly thought I don't need that verse. While I have learned to lean on God and those He has given to support me, I have also become very independent (I'm not sure how to explain that those happened simultaneously) and the last thing I have wanted is a husband.
The last week has brought a host of memories, in part because of the time of year, also because of a host of triggers, and even memories I needed in order to share with others with an amount of understanding I couldn't have without. In the midst of all that, I have been studying up on parables for the Bible study I teach each week. I was reading a book that offered a different interpretation of Matthew 13:44 than I've always heard.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."
Like many, this parable had always meant that we need to be willing to give it all for the kingdom heaven, and do so joyfully. That isn't bad, but parables often don't just have one parallel. In the parables of the sower and the seeds, we can be both the soil and the sower. There is more than one lesson to learn from the parable of the prodigal son. So, what did the author say about this one? He said, suppose the man wasn't just any man, but Jesus! What if we are the treasure? If we look at it that way, the message is this. Jesus paid a great price, His life, to purchase the field, to have us, His treasure, and He did so joyfully. Mind blown!
Full of excitement, I have shared this with others, because that's what I do when I learn something new. I have looked forward to the next people I can tell, "You are Jesus' treasure!" because that's also what I do when I learn something new! In case you can't tell, I like to learn and share. Sometimes I get so excited about the learning and sharing that I haven't yet let a message reach the depths of my own soul.
Last night, doing this and that--reading, watching tv, office work, moon watching--not being able to sleep because of too much tea too late I heard a whisper, "Kristyn, you're my treasure." I responded quickly, "Yeah, yeah, I know, so cool." The whisper again, "No, listen, Kristyn. YOU are my treasure." Ohhhhhh!! And again, I was undone. This wasn't JUST to share, though make no mistake, I WILL, but I didn't realize how much I longed to be someone's treasure. THIS is how God is my husband, He sees me as a treasure worth giving everything for with great JOY!
"You were bought at a price..." 1 Corinthians 6:20
"...For the joy set before him he endured the cross.." Hebrews 12:2
I don't know where you are in your journey of knowing the magnitude of God's love today. Maybe you don't know it at all. Maybe you know it in your head, but have not realized it in your heart. Maybe you've had experiences like mine where He reveals the magnitude of His love. Wherever you are, I am confident that His love is still greater than you understand, so I join Paul in praying for you, my friends, that "being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."