How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

dad and daughter cuddling on couchLike her parents, my oldest daughter is more on the introvertive side.  Sure, we can host crowds of people, or invite friends over, but we find our energy reprovisioned in a still and quiet house, being able to rest, read, pray and relax.

So it was appropriate after a busy season of hosting that my oldest daughter simply wanted to cuddle on the couch.  Just to be close and to rest.  In the quiet.  No words.  Just rest.  As I enfolded my arms around her, it occurred to me the benefit of this simple process.  I simply held her, stroking her hair by her face, letting her know she was loved. Home.  Safe.  And accepted, just as she was.  There was not any need for performance here.  No striving to earn either my love or her ability to come near.

I was struck with the similarity of this picture with my daughter and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  God, too, wants me just to be with Him, to pause from the busyness of the day (days?!) so that He can remind me that I, too, am loved, am accepted just as I am without any need for performance.  His love for me is “deep, vast beyond all measure,” as the hymn says, powerful enough that in God’s giving His only Son, it brings many a wretch His treasure, bringing many sons to glory.

Each of us—my daughter, you and I—are learning these truths, that “because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, for it is by grace we have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2).  May this reality of ours become more and more accepted, noticed and lived in each day.

The Result of Being Twitterpated

Once upon a time there was a cheesecake that was mentioned on this blog.  Well, about two weeks ago, on a beautiful and breezy Saturday afternoon, that cheesecake morphed into a wedding.  It’s been a fun year to watch our friends meet, get twitterpated, consider their future together, and ultimately tie the knot!  This ability to observe our friends has reminded me of my own dating and marriage process—now nearly 10 years in the making—and given me the opportunity to reflect on God’s design of it all.  The creation account in Genesis 2 ends with the culmination of something so incredible that God called it not just good (as He had the rest of creation in the account in Genesis 1), but very good.  And Adam must have seen this as well.  One can hear the excitement Adam had upon laying eyes on his new bride Eve as he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23).  Intimacy and vulnerability—to the point of being the same—were at the core of the newly-created marriage relationship.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul brings this point home all the more.  The role of the husband is to tend one’s wife so that she is “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” because in doing so one loves his wife as he does his own body (Ephesians 5:26-27).  Again, this picture of intimacy and openness is the same call one has in marriage some 1500 years after the writing of Genesis.

And 2000 years since Paul’s writings, I saw it at our friends’ wedding—the uniting of wills and futures and hopes with the intent on being vulnerable to whatever God would call of these two in the future.  Let’s be in prayer for the happy couple as they celebrate what God has brought together.

Let me know your thoughts on your marriage or that of others—how have you seen a carrying out of the words of Adam and Paul in your own life?

Join Us: Upcoming Marriage Retreat

Theologian Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul says that we can love one’s soul—our own and that of others—by simply taking interest in it—finding what makes it excited, getting to know it and see its inner core:

Taking an interest in the soul is a way of loving it. The ultimate cure, as many ancient and modern psychologies of depth have asserted, comes from love and not from logic. Understanding doesn’t take us very far in this work, but love, expressed in patient and careful attention, draws the soul in from dispersion in problems and fascinations. It has been noted that most, if not all, problems brought to therapists are issues of love. It makes sense then that the cure is also love.

Think of how one interacts with their child, who simply wants to have that moment of eye-to-eye contact where they know they really are being listening to. That’s at the heart of what Moore is saying. This ultimate cure to be known comes not from a logical plan but from a wild and infecting love. Perhaps this is why true intimacy for our culture—and that of many others—is so hard to accept. To be known and accepted as I truly am does not make sense. In fact, many of us would reject this notion logically. “How can she love me?” one asks. Moore is right in his suggestion that love cannot be fully understood as there is a part of it that we quickly want to reject. More rightly, with patience and care, we begin to see that our own varied problems fade and make way for sharing, for relationship, and for being known.

Just as this is true for in a parent-child relationship, we also see this in marriage. This kind of love and intimacy was at the heart of the love relationship shared between Sheldon Van Auken and Jean Davis, better known as Van and Davy, who wrote A Severe Mercy. Van writes that…

…total sharing, we felt, was the ultimate secret of a love that would last forever. And of course we could learn to like anything if we wanted to. Through sharing we would not only make a bond of incredible friendship, but through sharing we would keep the magic of inloveness.

For Van and Davy, their marriage relationship grew more in love as they saw value in the things shared in which the other was—at first—more interested. Sailing, convertibles, Christianity, England and dying well were all things one of them like more originally. But, because of the intimacy in their relationship, they saw that there would be something worthwhile in the likes of the other, which lead to a greater “inloveness,” their word for keeping the marriage fires burning, even during some of the very cold times they endured.

How do you see inloveness and intimacy in your own relationships? I’d be interested to know how you keep things going in our busy and disconnected world.

Want to work on this love and intimacy in your own marriage? You may be interested in an upcoming seminar on intimacy in one’s marriage. We hold our inaugural Creating Oneness marriage retreat on the evening of September 18th on “Intimacy with the Other: God and Your Spouse.” For more info, to register and for future retreat info, click here. We hope to see you there.