Intimacy. An idea I have struggled with lately. Actually, most of my life, come to think of it. I'm only being honest. It frightens me. Especially when I consider that the Almighty, Omniscient God of the heavens desires intimacy with me.
I don't know if anyone else is disturbed by this idea. But sometimes when I take a good, long look at everything inside, when I scrutinize my humanity, I gawk at the idea of anyone desiring an intimately close connection with this frail human being. Then I realize that Jesus died for such an opportunity. And it is nothing at all to be afraid of.
Yes, God, is combining my circumstances together to resound into a cry, a longing, a desperate burning for the intimacy He has created me to experience.
One night before I went to bed, exhausted from what has felt like running around like a mindless machine, I wanted to see a glimpse of God. I prayed, Jesus, can I please see You again? Can You just remind me who You are? And He lovingly gave me this passage: Luke 7:36-50.
My heart cannot possibly spill out the precious gemstones I collected from this passage. All I can say is, I saw Jesus.
I saw the woman, this woman with a past: alone, desperate, and in a complete understanding of all this Man was for her. She recognized her need, her inner, desperate need for Someone to save her. And she had faith that He actually could save her. And that faith, that precious faith that perfectly understood who Jesus Christ was, why He came, what He could do for her, caused her to weep at His feet in what I believe is the most poignant picture of worship in the entire Bible. I truly wished I was that woman.
Yet who had I become? I found more similarities in the Pharisee, Simon, than I did in this humble, lowly woman. Simon had become so comfortable in religion. His sacred traditions had become his god. He had relied upon his own goodness to save him for so long that when the Savior walked into his house, he did not recognize Him as such. In his pride, he had no need for Him--for a Savior.
For years, I have realized in conviction how jaded I have become with religion: acts of duty and not of love. How easy it is to know doctrine, to memorize Scriptures and be consumed by them -- and yet be so blinded by such that it becomes difficult to see the face of Jesus Himself. I recalled the earlier years of my life, so focused on being a picture-perfect Christian that I had come to a place of reliance upon religion. Through religious ceremonies, I thought I was saving my own self. What a tiring, lonely road.
Yet I am touched that Jesus did not lash out at Simon. Nor did He lash out at the woman of sin. Rather, He gave them a glimpse of God, a God radically different than any Jew of the day had known before--a God who recklessly loves and graciously forgives all sinners, all the poor and powerless.
This week marks my church's two-year anniversary. In celebration of God's faithfulness and goodness, we looked back at how the church started as a Bible study among friends to become a larger body of believers all gathered under the roof of a local movie theater. And what a body it is. What testimonies all of these people have! I have heard with my own ears the glorious testimonies of dear friends who have been delivered from various addictions, pains, struggles, and sins. And yet I look into their eyes to see the freeing Spirit of Christ shining through them. Hallelujah! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! These friends of mine had each come to a point in their lives where they recognized their inescapable need for Someone to rescue them -- and they found their salvation in Jesus Christ Himself.
I praise God for the work in their lives. And each week, I see them come in to serve. They wash the feet of Jesus with their tears, pour out a sweet fragrance before Him as they minister, and kneel in utter gratitude at the miraculous work He has done for them. They know the definition of adoration, for they who have been forgiven much love much (Luke 7:47).
And so I ask myself the question: will I walk in the pride of religious practice, building a protective barrier around my heart impenetrable to God's amazing grace? Or do I have the guts to humble myself, realize how broken I am, and realize that grace alone saves me and not the confines of religious ritual I have followed for so long?
How much sweeter to feel the gentle touch of the Lord's deep healing? How much more freeing to experience His radical grace and forgiveness? How much more rewarding to possess so great a faith to believe--to clasp tightly to my chest--that Jesus loves me? Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss. Am I afraid of that kind of intimacy? Or can I just let go and let love come crashing in?
I have come to understand that my inbred desire is to be like this God, to live the words of Isaiah 61 by the Spirit who lives in me, to be like the beautiful Jesus described in the lyrics of this song:
You are the God of the broken
Friend of the weak
You wash the feet of the weary
Embrace the ones in need
I want to be like You, Jesus, to have this heart in me
You are the God of the humble
You are the humble king
Oh, that I can live out Christ's undying love to others by adopting His Spirit, that I can be a vessel of healing, as He has healed my friends of so much, that I can reach out to those hurting as He so desires to do. He says blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn and are broken (Matthew 5:3-10), those contrite (or literally lame and weak!) in spirit (Isaiah 66:2). And that I might behold that glorious, awe-filled day when we may all, equally, rejoice and worship before the throne together.
Oh, that I can weep uncontrollably at the incredible reality of all the God-man has done for me. That I might experience true intimacy. That heaven might meet earth in that incomprehensible, radical, passionate, unutterable unforseen kiss.
The call to dieresounds alarmingly within my heart—
But how can I walk the land of the living
as one dead?
How can the heavenly ghost endure
the casual comings and goings
of the common man?
With one foot, I run to You
I come so close,
tip-toeing along the brink of the edge
where I know I must plunge head-first
into the crevasse—
One does not merely trip onto the altar
He holds the dagger above His holy, all-knowing head
the cutting of the self,
the purging of this spotted heart—
when the edge becomes immediate,
crying, Father of Abraham,