Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”
To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
From The Four Loves, as found in The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis, 278-279
Lord to love means not to fear. I fear but long to love. I’m weary of it. Father i’m striving to persevere in obeying, but i’m scared. I don’t understand your purposes, logic makes a valid case for it being emotional suicide. Why must you make me look so bad? What does it achieve? I give of myself and feel exposed. I share the precious things of my heart and feel vulnerable. Its so uncomfortable.
It dismantles the idol of reputation i’ve setup in my own mind. It exposes weaknesses that i’d desire to remain hidden, things i’d rather pretend don’t exist. It gently wrestles from my clasp, unhelpful artifacts that I hold onto too tightly. Its for your glory and my santification. Its not comfortable but its purposes are far reaching. Your plan for me involves a life time. I am so young. What do I know at 26? I’m many ways, I feel like a child. In my heart the vulnerabilities are the same. I will always be human.
God you’ve created me a warrior. You’ve given me a taste for courage. Although I doubt my being cut out for it I desire to have a go. I’m compelled to. To be a man, who knows the freedom in taking risks. Who risks hurt for the sake of joy. Who falls but gets up, who stand firm in the presence of adveristy, whose faith never falters.
Make me more into the man you desire me to be. Teach me to throw off everything that hinders. You have given me freedom, let it not go to waste on me. This stage isn’t easy for me but by your grace i’m more than a conqueror. My heart can rest secure. No mortal harm can fall upon me. Teach me to fear you alone. Make it a reality in my life, for your glories sake. Humble me for my good, that I may serve with truth and integrity.
Grant me rest, for I am so tired.
For years i’ve activly sought to learn the secret as Paul talked about of being content in every circumstance. I’ve made it one of my most consistent prayers knowning it to be the only place where my soul will find true rest. I’m regularly frustrated at my inability to let go of the idols i’ve carved out for myself to worship. I hate and fear them but at the same time love and cherish them.
I’ve recently been flicking through “The pursuit of God” by A.W Tozer again. I’d definitly recommend reading it (its pretty short too – less than 100 pages!). Here’s a snippet which talks about the blessedness of possessing nothing. Its incredibly insightful and carries much truth, challenging the idols we allow to go unchecked but speaks also of the liberation and freedom we find in worshipping God alone.
Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first perpared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In Genisis account of the creation these are called simply ‘things’. They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy tome come. Within him was God; without a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul.
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Man have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there is in the moral dusk subborn and agressive upsurpers fight among themselves for the first place on the throne.
This is not mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symtoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstorous substitution.
I don’t think we should think too narrowly on what constitutes “things” – seems to be basically anything we hold onto too tightly. Many things compete for “first place on the throne” or our hearts. It may be our material possession, our reputations, a desire for vocational success, our friendships and relationships. What ever our “things” are, whatever idols we struggle with letting go of, God’s desire for us, rooted in love, is that they be exposed and that we be free of them :).
This deserves a proper post, hopefully later in the week. The next few days are a bit mad so a photo will do for now.
I do a lot of writing in notebooks. As a method of communing and enjoying intimacy with God i’ve found it invaluable and have been massively blessed by it over the last 4 or 5 years. I’ve learned much about who God is and who I am as i’ve spent time scribbling down all kinds of thoughts and prayers, growing comfortable in his presence. I’d recommend everyone do it.
Libby (aka my sister) marries Dave in a few weeks. Recently I found an entry I wrote the day they got engaged, now over a year ago. Its a tribute and a prayer which seems fitting to share. I’ve not edited its content at all. It wasn’t written for an audience so its quite likely some bits might not make sense. I don’t care :).
Lib got engaged today. They were both so happy it was beautiful. They’re both so right for each other and will be a mighty asset to the kingdom. I pray for your protection father, keep them strong, may they never loose heart, a lifetime of fixing their eyes on Jesus. Let them run that race together, doggedly, and with perseverance. May they know the sufficiency of your love and grace, may they find rest in your arms and peace in your presence.
If you kept a record of our transgressions who could stand father, but with you there is forgiveness and therefore you are feared. Oh Lord I praise you, I love you, for we are cleansed. You present us faultless to the father. Its only through your grace. I am simply blown away by your goodness, that you would do what you did to bring me to your side. Its outrageous, its madness, your love is a mystery and I will never understand why you love me as much as you do. I don’t get it but thats ok, you simply want me to accept it, to receive your embrace. You heal me Lord, you fulfill me, you complete me and in your sight my identity will never change. You elevate me to a place impossible for me to fall from. I am in awe of you Lord.
Unless I know your love for me, how can I reflect it to those in the world around me. Teach me more of your love father, Rest in your presence and fullness of joy. I’m enjoying your love right now, I thank you for moments like these, time just to be a son in the presence of his father. I love you. Amen.
If i’m stressed or tense I find drawing helps me chill out.
Often its a case of just needing something else to focus on, something very different. I was away on holiday a few weeks ago, it all got a bit much, I got grumpy, and so instead of continuing to take it out on my wonderful family and stewing in self-pity I started colouring! 30 minutes later I was the epitome of peace and tranquility once more :). Yeah it is a bit weird but i’ve the ability to be a complete muppet sometimes – and its better for the planet that I coax myself out of it ASAP!
My career has taken off. I papped a premiership footballer in Manchester Airport last Sunday as he watched the Wimbledon final in Terminal 3. Seizing the opportunity I whipped out the trusty but seriously crud 1.3 megapixel camera embedded within my phone and took these beauts. I don’t think anyone actually reads this thing but in the off-chance you do and want to have a stab at who it is i’ll give you a bit of time to have some guesses. Some larger images:
Just back from a civilised stag weekend. We stayed in Rockliffe nearish Dumfries. Highlights included Holland destroying France (particularly the goals from Robben and Sneijder), a walk which included cheese sandwiches on the top of a very big hill, beautiful surroundings, silly cricket and a seriously awesome pub eating and drinking session by the sea as the sun disappeared on the Saturday night. The weather was gorgeous.
It was brilliant, there was no humiliation, just a uber relaxing but fun weekend in good company. Call me old and dull, but given the choice, were I ever have to my own such “celebration” i’d definitely go for something similar… it was just so good, but knowing my wonderful friends as I do, I think it unlikely that i’d get away with it. Silly traditions. Civilized, chilled, pleasant… underrated.
Here’s where we were (Rockliffe nearish Dumfries)
Grandpa has gone. On up ahead and claimed his crown of righteousness. The service at the crematorium was beautiful, grandma read Psalm 16 and I got through Psalm 23. There were tears as we remembered someone we were very fond of, but for me an overriding sense of joy, knowing grace had carried him home and the faithfulness of a God in whose arms he now rests, alive and at peace.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages, from Psalm 103 verses 13-18. I love being reminded of our being mortal, our finiteness, our being dust. It somehow just seems right and makes God all the greater.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children-
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
I’ve had a beautiful evening. A dear ex-flatmate who now lives a long way away phoned up this evening for a chat before a couple of my most treasured friends appeared on the doorstep to tell me they’d got engaged.
It was just beautiful, made all the sweeter having shared the years of journeying it took to get to this point. It wasn’t a moment for detail, but one of joy, simply the celebration of something inherently beautiful.
I have been blessed with friends. People who know and understand me, friends with whom I have a history, people I can unashamedly share my passions, joys, disappointments and struggles with. God has shown me such favour in giving me these people and I thank God for them.