Worthy Soul

3:55 PM

Long lay the world
In sin and error pining
Till He appeared
And the soul felt its worth.

    Driving to my parents home in the middle of our dusty desert with gigantic storm clouds and all manner of grey and black forming overhead, these simple lyrics hit me with a strikingly poignant force. No doubt the lyrics to "O Holy Night" have often passed you by as well. It's the image of a soul bowed down in weary labor, with the sin it had carried its entire life, being lifted up by God. What a marvelous thought! If there's anything I've heard Christians struggle with, it's a lack of self worth. How strange that we, who have the ear and heart of an all powerful God, so often turn on ourselves in a self-deprecating, almost violent manner uncomfortable to behold.
     They say we're not teaching the love of God properly. Who "they" are is another discussion entirely. I disagree. I believe we teach the love of God often enough, with its doctrine of cheap grace, but I, for one, have completely lost the meaning of love. The word simply passes me by. The Germans have numerous ways to say they love something. This can be quite an awkward situation when you're trying to tell someone you care a lot about them and they look at you as if you've just proposed some kind of romantic liaison! However, in principle, I rather like the idea of separating the affinity for chocolate from the passion for a spouse. On this point many females will disagree, but as Tim Hawkins says, let a Kit-Kat bar fix that hole in the dry wall or try snuggling up to a Baby Ruth on a cold night! 
      In recent times there has been much discussion on the existence of hell. Without it, my idea of Jesus' sacrifice loses a lot of its punch and I would lean much further towards regarding him as a lunatic rather than Lord. That godman was willing to undergo torture to save me from something.  I can't imagine anyone doing something like that for me unless they had an awfully good reason and a very good understanding of what they were doing. This whispers of love, a love I've never known, but I'd like to know.
     Or perhaps we understand something of love; we've caught snatches of it, but we don't quite grasp it to its full extent; it ever eludes us. How often do we come straggling away from the fountain of life because we've only taken a few sips, when the whole well was at our disposal! 
    My Dad has a tradition of bribing me to do something ridiculous in public. Money does a whole lot towards making one fearless, let me tell you. One of his favorite bets has to do with a restaurant we often go to. It's a cowboy restaurant and the waiters, if asked, will climb high up on a chair, blindfold themselves and pour water from a pitcher into a cup on a guest's head, like so..... 

                    As you can see, I've subjected myself to this before with the following result

      Last week, my Dad, knowing I didn't have a job, tried to bribe me again.
     "I don't want to steal your money!" I said truthfully.
     Dad looked at me sadly and sighed, "Rachel, you've already stolen my heart, how could you steal my money?"
     It was one of the loveliest things anybody had ever said to me and it showed  me a love from our great Father that is exemplified only slightly even by such a great love on earth. How often have I delayed asking the Lord for what I needed or wanted, simply because I didn't want to "steal from Him?" I know I can ask anything from my earthly Dad and if it's within his power, he'll do it. As Jesus said, how much more my Father in heaven? 
     My friend Franzi prays all the time, "Papa, I need a parking space." or "Papa, we need your help!" It always struck me as cute how she addressed God. One day I realized it was how she would speak to her dad. He was Papa. I'd heard English speakers saying, "Daddy" and" Daddy God" before and it always weirded me out. It seemed too familiar with God. I began to realize that I felt much more comfortable with God at arm's length. He was Father, not Dad. Brennan Manning often talks about how we can cry out to God as our "Abba" .  Abba's Child is a fantastic book, well worth the read. In it he says, The sorrow of God lies in our fear of Him, our fear of life, and our fear of ourselves. He anguishes over our self-absorption and self-sufficiency... God's sorrow lies in our refusal to approach Him when we sinned and failed.”
   A sorrowful God who cries, who is so invested in my life that some of His deepest sorrow comes from my pushing Him aside. I once was a babysitter for a little girl who did everything for herself. Even at the age of 1, she didn't like to be held or helped except by a very select few. I looked after her for almost two years but could count on my hand the number of times she came to me to be held. She was so young, yet so strong, and in her I found a mirror of myself. How often has God longed for me to run to Him, to throw my arms about His knees and  tell Him I'd had a bad day and that I needed Him. 
   Perhaps the picture of Jesus crying above Jerusalem, repeating its name, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who have killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you were not willing!", isn't so far off, it's just a snapshot in time of a longing God who is aching of love for His people. He's aching for you. He who is so much more worthy than you and I is aching to be with you. You've already stolen His heart, how could you steal anything else?
 And that's how your soul can feel its worth. 

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