True Love

Last October, I wrote an article upon the nature of grief after unexpectedly losing a beloved friend two months prior. Everything in my life was shaken and trembled as a result of many difficult challenges, trials, and circumstances that afflicted me throughout last year. I continue to find difficulty in labelling 2019 as a terrible, dreadful year, because there were so many incredible things that took place throughout the year, but those wonderful things are marred by the realities of the tragedies, struggles, and tribulations that were ever present. My life came to a halt in August, and the subsequent months continued to see my life tossed about by the storm of grief and despair. Life as I knew it continued on, but I was still nursing a wound that cleaved my heart in two. I hobbled forward with a limp through life toward new challenges that would bring new tribulations and deeper hurting. My life has never been the same, but, as I sit writing, something is different. Different about my life, different about my perspective, different about myself.

When I got up this morning, my heart was heavy (and remains heavy even now). A deep groaning that cannot be put to words bellowed from the depths of me. A yearning to go back to when things were different. A longing to draw near to that beloved friend. Grief had come to visit me today. I am not surprised by the timing as the days creep closer to that one year mark. This most unwelcome, unrelenting guest has become an occasional traveling partner. A year ago, I cried out to God from the depths of pain and suffering. Uttering my grievances, shaking my fist at God, and making my anger known to Him from the depths of my affliction. A pain that is incomprehensible. The brokenness and frailty of my human nature on full display as I wanted to hurt God as He had hurt me…

The ugliness of death permeates beyond the physical world. Death – grief – sin, tear at the very fabric of God’s design. We were not designed to die. We were not created with the capacity to understand grief. Sin’s corruption opened the door for our suffering, affliction, and our despair. The way our bodies and mind react to death are completely unnatural. When we are being subjected to the waves of emotions brought upon us by grief, we have difficulty explaining them to others who ask of us, “how are you doing” or “are you okay?” The words are never sufficient to describe the breadth and weight of grief. Even with the most refinement, I could not ever truly describe the excuriating pain that I was experiencing. Grief is one of those things you never fully understand until it comes to visit you…

The physical pain of grief has largely subsided, though this morning I could not hold back the tears that burned as they flowed as fire from my eyes.. I have found that it’s the quietest, stillest moments of my life that my mind settles upon my beloved friend. A longing for this person who is missing from my life. A fleeting desire, from the depths of my soul, for things to have been different. The thoughts come unexpectedly, without warning, and it has become bittersweet. I have a more difficult time with ‘happily ever after’ at the end of movies, books, and music now than I did a year ago. The realities of the Christian life tells us that ‘happily ever after’ is not found exclusively here on Earth, but in the presence with our Creator. My heart twists, somewhat selfishly, because I would much rather have my beloved friend here with me today… Yet, my heart and soul rejoice because I know that they are in the presence of God! My friend is made whole again, set free from the suffering of sin’s corruption! Those memories and thoughts bring about wonderful, joyous sentimentality of this wonderful person, and they bring a tinge of sorrow for their absence from this earth.

“Grief is like a bomber circling round and dropping its bombs each time the circle brings it overhead; physical pain is like the steady barrage on a trench in World War One, hours of it with no let-up for a moment. Thought is never static; pain often is.”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Although we were not designed to experience grief, I am a better man as a result. I am a better man because God deemed it necessary to bring my beloved friend into my life. I am better because God began to draw our hearts together. I am a better person because God has walked by my side every step of this long, agonizing path. Something within me is different, vastly different, and I can feel it. I am not the man I was, nor am I fully who God has intended me to be — yet. I recognize that that was a strange sentence to read, but by virtue, the fact that I am writing this now is evidence that God still has plans for me and my life. The transformative, sanctification process is not yet complete in my life. He continues to draw me toward greater repentance and Christlikeness.

Navigating grief is hardly an easy task. Grief is a violent storm. A raging war. Grief shakes at the foundations of our faith to reveal where we’ve placed our hope. The longer I’ve walked through this process, I have become more aware of how helplessly vulnerable my heart is to the afflictions of this life. However, in the same way, my heart is vulnerable to the work God is seeking to do in my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a cynic. Everybody and everything is motivated by their own self-interest. Selfishness. This perspective toward life is highly pessimistic (and problematic). My outlook on life was rigidly negative because, by its nature, cynicism looks for the worst in people. The cynic expects people act on their own self-interest, and cynics are rarely caught of guard because of it. The trap of the cynic’s worldview is in their hardness of heart. A snare that sniffles and suffocates the heart from seeing things from God’s perspective of grace and mercy. Grief would be my undoing.

I have been on a path of unlearning since high school. My self-preservation, coping mechanisms, of cynicism, sarcasm, and skepticism were deeply rooted in the facets of my life as I began down the path toward sanctification. I am a deeply flawed man. I fail (frequently). My hard heart has been one of my greatest hinderances in growing toward Christlikeness… A friend asked me some months back in the (what as at that time) height of coronavirus quarantine what I thought God was trying to teach me through my experience with loss and grief. I’ve honestly given up trying to come up with some rational answer to that question because every conclusion I come to is contrary to the character of God. If God took my friend away to teach me a lesson, then their life was more about me than it was His and that can’t be right. If God took them away because I was not holy or righteous enough, then God’s is cruel which is not true in the slightest. Still my friend’s question has lingered with me as I’ve mulled over my life with introspection. Instead of rationalizing this time of my life, I’ve instead searched the scriptures. Seeking to understand the nature of grief, of death, of God, and of grace. How can I learn from this time, and help those who are experiencing grief? What can we learn about God through our grieving? Scripture speaks directly to our frail, broken hearts. God whispers into our sufferings, and bellows into our lives with hopeful expectation.

I am nowhere near the end of the grieving process (though admittedly, I do not believe that it ever truly has an end on this side of Heaven). The process has changed, and I can see God’s hand at work in my life through this process. I have become more compassionate toward things that I was once cynical about. My outlook on life and on others has begun to swing toward something more optimistic. My hard heart is softening as God stirs in my inequity and works through my brokenness. God is good! He is awesome, powerful, and mighty! He is good, gracious, and merciful! I dearly love my beloved friend. From that very first encounter with them, something was different. As I spent time with them, the more I was drawn to them, and from the very depths of my soul all I wanted was to see God’s best for their life. True love. Not infatuation marketed as ‘true love’ by Hollywood, but the genuine expression of love. God is at the center of the very essence of what we know as love. He is, after all, the one from which we begin to understand love. Thus, as I’ve come to realize through this undoing, I cannot love anyone truly if I am hard of heart. My cynical view toward life has been contrary to the very essence of God’s grace and mercy.

God speaks, even in our suffering. Our afflictions are not purposeless. God may teach us through these difficult and often painful experiences, but that does not inherently mean that God allowed them solely for that purpose. That purpose is beyond our ability to comprehend. However, I rest knowing that there is a ‘happily ever after’ for those who lay their faith in Jesus. There is hope! We, as believers, may hope expectantly for that happily ever after because God is at work! We may share that hope with others by striving to love those around us genuinely. Free of our self-interest and gain. Our hope is for the work God is doing, even now, in the midst of difficult seasons. We hope to see God’s best fulfilled in the lives of others. Even from our suffering, we may hope! Hope for deliverance. Hope for new perspective. For God’s transformative work to be done in our lives. Hope for our lives to be leveraged in such a way that we may serve others as examples of true love!

Teren

The Turning Point: A Story of Redemption

I use to be the happiest, jovial child! I was inquisitive, curious, and carefree! My parents swear that I had such a unique smile that never left me at that time. Looking back, I believe that I had a strong sense of justice. I was very sensitive and could gage right and wrong as well as justice and injustice. I was just a happy kid! This may just be nostalgia but life seemed so much more simple when I was a child. I did not have to worry about what major to take, how I was going to pay for things, girls had cooties (though I always got along with them), and the biggest concern was what fun would be had any given day. I loved Star Wars, and if you accused me of being obsessed you’d be correct, and it filled my vivid imagination. By the time of fourth grade, or 2001 for reference, I was still very much a happy, happy, happy child. However, as I entered fifth grade, that smile that my parents talked about would disappear. In the past few years, when we’ve talked about that time and where I am now, they’ve mentioned that that smile I had never really did return.


 

Family Photos


 

When I entered fifth grade, I found out how cruel other children could be. The way my middle school was set up meant that we had a homeroom that would stay together all day, except for our single elective period, moving from one subject to the next. Around this time, too, my family split from the church we had been attending for reasons I still do not know to this day. We tried a new church, the church I am now attending and serving in, but from around this point forward we were unchurched. Anyway, I spent five days a week, nearly eight hours a day with the same kids who choose me as their victim. They’d tease me, bully me, and would find any means in which to antagonize me. This went on for the entirety of the school year. I distinctly remember reaching a point that I no longer wanted to go to school. I remember fighting with my mom one morning adamantly refusing to go to school. I wanted no part of it. I was completely traumatized, looking back the things the kids would say and mock me with were rather trivial and inconsequential, because I was subjected to it every day. As this continued, I grew more and more spiteful, hateful.

I grew calloused and resorted to fighting back in whatever way I could. I learned how to swear and would throw words back at them. I’d take my anger out on my closer friends because I was hurting. I’d make every effort to toughen up and carry the weight of the pain and suffering. I tried to endure. And Y’all, I failed miserably. I became a very angry person. I hated everyone. I’d take out my anger on doors, walls, my siblings. I was explosive. Anger and hate sat just under the surface and would implode by the slightest issue. Even as I moved on to sixth and seventh grade, the bullying lessened as I got bigger and larger than most of my peers. However, the pain that I experienced as a child lingered and worsened. I isolated myself which led me into greater sins that I will not discuss at this time. I avoided people as best I could. My anger became my most valuable weapon during this time in my life. I also adapted my words to be nuanced through sarcasm to mask the hate I’d spread.

I very truly entered into a self-destructive path between 5th and 8th grade because I had an issue in controlling my anger. I also became a skeptic and a cynic. I trusted nobody apart from myself. At some point between the eighth grade and ninth grade, my entire family began going to counseling for other issues. I definitely wasn’t having it either. Let alone, I didn’t trust this shrink, who is actually a pretty fantastic person whom I have much respect for now, who was trying to invoke in us a change. However, what I needed was this person holding up a mirror to myself and my family to reveal the issues that were dwelling within my broken soul. My tongue spread nothing but hate and lies to those I came into contact with. Y’all, when the Bible says the tongue can either give life or it can kill its not lying! So for a good chunk of my schooling life, I was lost and angry and bitter.

Something changed toward the end of my freshman year. I was reintroduced to the church. I slowly, hesitantly made my way back to the place full of broken people. It would take the rest of my time in high school to begin to change my ways. I was fortunate to have a youth paster who was willing to battle through my transition into a new stage. Y’all my words had become different, they were sarcastic and cruel, but were guised as humor. Through my sophomore year, I was still in my ways speaking sarcasm and being a jerk. I was terrible. I was a mess. I find it funny now, that toward the end of high school that God would place a calling on my life to love others. To make every effort to love anyone I come in contact with.

Allowing God to do a work on our lives is a process. One that takes more time than we might imagine. Even to this day, I have to be careful with how I speak and I admit that there are times when I’ve not kept the sarcasm in check. My attempt at humor is biting, especially when it’s not intended to be so. I can, in all praise to God, look back at where I was then and where I am now as a completely different person! In some ways, I’m still the same but I’m no longer burdened with anger. I am free from the shackles of anger and hate that weighed me down for so many years. Now, I know that I cannot undo the hurt that I inflicted to people, my family, my friends, but I recognize the purpose God has placed upon me. To move from where I was then, and identify those needing love. To build up people, to encourage people, to share unconditional love to all who need it. This takes many forms, a word, a smile, a side-hug (cause modesty), a funny story, a conversation around a trashcan after dinner, and so on. We all want to feel wanted. To feel like we matter. To feel like we’re appreciated. To feel the appropriate kind of physical love (like a hug or a pat on the back). The tongue can do just that, give life or tear somebody down. I never want to be that person again, the one who tore others down. I never will be thanks to the power of Christ’s sacrifice and drawing us to a place of redemption.

So now, nearly done with college and quickly approaching my thirties, I have a purpose before me both at church, work, and at home, to share life with those I come into contact with. I have a purpose in my service to both my high school and college students, to be a source a life to them. Why? Because I know the transformative years that are high school and early college. The uncertainty of the future. The need for a foundation. The fear of what’s coming. I eagerly look forward to being a church where I find myself every week! I love my peers for no particular reason, but just because I love them! I look forward every day to to hear about their weeks, to hear about their wins, to listen to their stories, to play games together, to worship together, to share in the lives! I am endlessly grateful that I have the ability, now, to love people! To recognize those who are needing encouragement! To be a source of life to someone! Y’all, it’s all because of God! Because of Christ! I can smile again! I am happy again! I have love! I have life! I have a purpose! I have a reason for living! I am free! I am redeemed! While that smile that my parents saw as a child has never returned, it’s been replaced by a smile of somebody who has happiness, who has love! It’s a different smile! This is a small part of a larger testimony of what God is doing in the lives of people across the globe. It is my hope, that even as I write this blog for myself, that my testimony may have an impact on all who come across it. God loves you! God wants to do a work in you! He wants to give you a purpose and reason for existing! It is my prayer that through my life God will be glorified and that people will see the work Christ has done in my life! My motivation is not my own glory, because I could not on my own change from my hateful, angry ways, but to be a source of life to people just as Christ has given me a source of life!

 

Grace and Peace,

Terren-It-Up!

Remember: Remember Who You Are

Y’all, today was a long day. Those day’s where your body and mind are sore and restless. The kind of day where you’d rather do nothing and don’t want to be doing whatever task is required of you. Today was that day. I did not want to be at work, at all. Today was the polar opposite of the day before, when I was given a compliment that stopped me in my tracks, which is a rarity. I’m not one to normally be phased by words of encouragement, well, at least ones that catch me off guard. However, that was the highlight of yesterday. So today, after work, I sat down in my car and was staring at the miniature cow that sits on my dashboard and thinking about just how blessed I am.

Last year, I started at Chick-fil-A and one of the first purchases I made was of a plush cow to place in my car as a reminder of the blessing of getting a job after being unemployed for nearly a year. Today, I was not feeling very grateful. The Holy Spirit hit me with some of that good ole conviction. Well, to be honest, I had lost sight of the blessing God had graced me with. When I got home from work, I got into a call with a friend of mine at Seminary and proceeded to use two hours to catch up on the importances of life. Through this, I was reminded of the numerous times that Jesus or the Apostles would tell people to remember the many, many occurrences where God poured our blessings upon His chosen people, and how His provision carried them throughout history. Now, one cheeky Lion King reference for a title and a head full of thoughts and a simple premise. Remember who you are.

As believers, we are pulled in countless directions. The enemy tries to keep our focus everywhere but where we ought to be focused. We must keep our focus on God. Why? Because He is the source of our identity. Y’all, for those of you who are believers, followers of Christ, we are children of the one true king! We are valued beyond all measure, and God has made every attempt to show us His love and goodness! He is the provisioner of our needs, our comforter, our secret place. Yet, like me today, we forget and get distracted from the reality of our connection to God. So today, instead of extrapolating some lesson from my life with some Biblical connection, I wanted to encourage you, the reader. Remember that you belong to God, that He has called you by name. He knows you! He loves you! Remember that God has called you into His flock! Remember who you are!

 

Grace and Peace,

Terren-It-Up

Finding Love: The Valentines Day Post

Today is Valentines Day, a day dedicated to love! Cupid is aflutter shooting his arrows into people. Love is in the air! At work today, random people would wish me a happy valentines day without knowing my circumstances or predicament on this particular day. For me, Valentines day is nothing special. It is just another day on the calendar and no more meaningful than any other given day. I’m not offended or put off by their wishing that I’d have a good day, but I found it perplexing none the less. I’d describe Valentines day as a celebration of the romantic love, which is a uniquely specific kind of love. While some celebrate in different ways, such as the popular Galentines day or in sharing the occasion with mothers and fathers, I do not find my stock in it. Yet, a celebration of love is a curious thing. Of the many forms or displays of love, I am keenly interested in the love between friends.

C.S. Lewis describes the different forms that love takes in his aptly named book The Four Loves. Exploring the different forms of love that we experience in life, the majority of the book focuses on the love between friends. The Philia: The Friend Love. You see, I did not really begin to follow Jesus until the end of my freshman year of high school. I had been saved as a child at a vacation bible school some many, many years earlier, but had not taken steps to pursue God until I was pulled back into the church in high school. For a good chunk of time I was not attending church. I was not involved and I was a troubled, angry person. The circumstances of life, being bullied and other things, had driven me to be a bitter, resentful individual. I despised people. I wanted nothing to do with them. I was mean and cruel and directed my anger toward those closest to me. Fortunately, I do not remember most of the time from that part of my life, but I remember the path that I walked which brought me to where I am today.

Even after bring drawn back into the church by my youth paster, a Godly man who poured into my life and was my mentor, I was on a process of undoing and unlearning the ways in which I viewed others. Learning to love others took some time and even moving through my sophomore year, I still had yet to master it. Sarcasm was my weapon, a means of hiding my distain. A mask, though shallow, to cause others to guess whether I was serious or if I was being funny. I wasn’t, usually. Y’all, I was a broken person hurting people. I cannot say that I am shameful of the past, but I recognize where I was, and where I am now.

Throughout this time, I was apart of a group of people that became a sort of family. We got along, mostly. We went of mission trips, summer camps, and grew deeper together. My high school youth group was a pivotal component in developing me as a person. However, when I graduated, I was dropped off from the youth. Why? Well, a new stage of life. For a time, I tried to reconcile the change by serving and volunteering, but I now lacked something that I needed. I tried a newly singles group at the same church where I attended youth. However, I didn’t fit with these thirty somethings and married couples. I was suddenly disengaged from an oasis that I had found during high school. The years passed and I had yet to find a place of connection. I moved to a new church home and began serving. A couple years passed from then, and a spark of something was on the horizon.

Our church was looking at creating a college bible study, and had brought on someone to create and lead this group. It was here where the seeds of community where planted. I’ve gushed about the blessing God bestowed upon me with this ministry many, many times before! Y’all best believe that I’m about to do so again! The class started off small, with ten or so people. Most where younger than myself and I once again had to learn how to interact and engage with the people. However, as we grew deeper as a ministry, so too did we mature and blossom into the men and women that we are today.

I met a few people, a couple in fact, who changed my life in many ways. After jump starting the ministry a new pastor was brought on to further grow the ministry. For a time, this person had been the student ministry intern/worship leader. He and his wife, during his time as the student ministry intern, had started a bible study out of their home. It was through this home group where I found a new family. As he and his wife transitioned into his new role as college pastor, they had developed myself and my friends into leaders. As the years went on, more and more people were added to the family.

I adore these people! They hold a very deep and meaningful place within my heart! They have shown me so much love and have challenged me to be a better man. Our relationship to one another is unique as we are, in the truest sense of the word, a family. They are examples of Philia. Their love is pure and genuine. Their love seeks out goodness in others, to speak to their insecurities and to encourage them. When I think about what it means to love people, I think about them. The example that was set by the couple which took it upon themselves to love us in such a meaningful way. We all came from different backgrounds, we have different convictions, and we walk different paths. Yet, we love the Lord and we pursue his will for our lives. We were brought together, not out of happenstance or chance, but through a purposeful design.

I do not find it a surprising that this person, who was the college pastor, is one of my closest friends and mentors. I do not find it surprising that his wife has molded myself and the other men of this family of friends to think beyond ourselves. They have led by example and have shaped the lives of so many people! While we see everyone constantly throughout the year, we gather every year for a gathering of thanksgiving, a Friendsgiving, to celebrate and express gratitude of God bringing us together. We share in life together. We are a family, as real as any other, and I love all of them dearly!


friendsgiving-4


So on a day like today, a day of love, a Valentines day, I can’t help but think about this group of people. They are the expression of Philia and Agape! You see, I found love in this group. They love Jesus and are the embodiment of the his love! I found a home and a family! I do not believe that as the years go by that we’ll not remain deeply rooted together. We may go to the ends of the earth, but we’ll always be a family! So happy Valentines Day to you, in whatever form that takes! Do not take the people closest to you for granted, for they might just be the best thing to ever happen to you.

 

Grace and Peace,

Terren-It-Up

Pieces: A Glimpse of Perfect Love

Spotify is a wonderful means of listening to music. Full of curated playlists for different moods, environments, and needs, Spotify has music for just about everything. I have made myself a good handful of playlists for different things. I have many different playlists for the Dungeons & Dragons games, I have classic rock mixes, I have big band classics, and I have many worship playlists which usually fill my commute to work and school with endless praise. One song in particular has caught my attention and has brought me to a place to reflect upon the nature of love. That song, which this post is titled after (Pieces by Amanda Cook), is profoundly touching as it highlights the perfect, unfailing love of God.

Growing older and having been privy through observation witnessing friends, family experience the pitfalls of our broken world. From deep hurts of chasing others, games being played with emotions, cheating, divorce, and the like, I’ve and so many others have seen or experienced the pitfalls of our shortcomings. The effects of sin, which broke creation, have corrupted the very pure, purposeful need for love and affection that we all desire. From the time we are born, our mothers, hopefully, have shown us affection. Our fathers, hopefully, have instilled in us a love that is seen in confidence and leadership. We rely on our friends to build us up and share in life with one another. But no matter how seemingly perfect, seemingly innocent the love we experience in this life, it is never complete. There is always something lacking. The failures of human love are seen throughout scripture. David sent a man to his death so that he may sleep with his wife, Samson was betrayed by the Delilah, Able was killed by Cain because of jealousy, and Jonah condemned an entire people to God’s wrath. While there are many more examples in the Bible, the few listed here show the depravity of sin and how it has ruined our ability to fully love one another. However, there is one example of love that has stood throughout time, giving testimony toward God. That is God’s love and his desire to reconcile us back to himself.

From the time Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of Eden, God moved to bring his creation back into his fold. Beginning with Abraham, God made a covenant to make a nation out of Abraham’s descendants. Then God found favor in Noah, who was righteous and kept God’s commands, and made a covenant to never again flood the earth. Next, God made a covenant with David, to make him a king, and that his descendants would always sit on the throne of the nation God promised to Abraham. Finally, God made the New Covenant. A promise to his people that there would be one to restore Israel back into God’s design. All of the covenants God made were purposeful to bring not only Israel back into his fold, but all of creation. These covenants were preparing the way for Jesus, who would be the fulfillment of God’s perfect love for us!

Y’all, God loves you more than you could ever comprehend! The depths of his love are unfathomable! Before you or I ever walked this earth, he knew us and loved us! Furthermore, God sent his son Jesus, who was and is fully man and fully God and lived a life without sin so that he may die on a cross, a cross made of his own creation, so that you and I may return to the design God had in store for us. I cannot think of a more perfect, unfailing example of love than that. That God loved us so much, that he made a means for us to return to him. Additionally, it is not happenstance that God’s relationship to his people is described as a bride and groom. Where the shortcomings of our ability to love are apparent, God’s love abundantly reveals the inherent perfection that can only be found with him. So this is where the song Pieces returns to the fold.

Amanda Cook’s song is haunting to me for many reasons, and it, in deep reflection, rends my heart having some insight into the pain that some I know have experienced. Yet, her song is a triumphant declaration of the perfection of God’s love for us. Below are the lyrics to Pieces:


Unreserved, unrestrained, Your love is wild. Your love is wild for me.
It isn’t shy, its unashamed. Your love is proud to be seen with me.
You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hide yourself to tease us.
Uncontrolled, uncontained, you love is a fire burning bright for me.
It’s not just a spark, its not just a flame, your love is a light that all the world will see.
That all the world will see
You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hide yourself to tease us.
You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hid yourself to tease us.
Your love not fractured, its not a troubled mind.
It isn’t anxious, Its not the restless kind.
Your love’s not passive, Its never disengaged, Its always present.
Its hang on every word we say.
Love keeps it promises. It keeps its word. It honors what’s sacred cause its vows are good.
Your love not broken. Its not insecure. Your love not selfish. Your love is pure.
You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hid yourself to tease us. 
You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hid yourself to tease us.
You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hid yourself to tease us.

Take note of the language used by Cook and take note of who she is describing in this song. Much is steeped within the short and simple frames of this song. I am not sure why, but this song breaks my heart. It resonates with me for some inexplicable reason. Perhaps I feel the depravity of sin within myself, or perhaps I see my own shortcomings. Either way, I am awed by how simply yet extensively the simple words reveal the extent of God’s love for myself and the rest of creation.
The word choice throughout the song is purposeful. “Unreserved. Unrestrained. Your love is wild. Your love is wild for me.” God’s love is not held back, it’s not kept at bay. And the idea of wild has many different connotations. I view it like that of a wild, feral animal. Thanks to the rise of new film techniques and camera equipment, we’ve been able to see the fierce, ferociousness of nature thanks to programs like Planet Earth and other such documentaries. The wilderness can be an unforgiving place. Particularly because of the unrestrained instincts of animals. In the same view that nature is unrestrained in its wildness, God’s love is similarly displayed. Nothing stands in the way of God’s love! He does not hold it back, nor does he distribute it unevenly. It is wild, feral in it’s nature. Not in a negative or destructive way, but in a way that it lets nothing separate itself from us.
It isn’t shy, its unashamed. Your love is proud to be seen with me.” The opening stanza gives hint to a dichotomy, it is here in the second stanza where the dichotomy fully, at least for me, hits home. The dichotomy between the love between people and between God and us. I cannot help but see the lines Cook draws between the two, particularly in the context of the romantic relationship. Now, I must give some context as to my position and the lacking experience I have in this area. However, thanks to the power of observation, I am able to have some insight into the pitfalls and dangers of romantic love in our current society. God’s love is not shy. It does not remove itself from us. As with the opening stanza, this idea of shyness conveys that God’s love does not hide itself from us or from others around us. Additionally, God’s love is unashamed. The idea of unashamed conveys that love, particularly God’s love is not ashamed of us, of our failures, or of our sinfulness. God’s love transcends our sin, and seeks to speak to us.
Unfortunately, for our humanly relationships, it is possibly for our significant others to be ashamed of us. To be ashamed of ours (and theirs) shortcomings. Thus revealing the lacking, the brokenness in our ability to love. Combined, the idea of God’s love being unreserved, unrestrained, unashamed all culminate in the next phrase. God’s love is proud to be seen with us. Frankly, this is demonstrated in scripture, and gives us a sense of the depth God has gone to show us his goodness, his perfect love. You see, Christ lived with, broke bread with, and walked among sinners. Christ did not hide himself from people, nor did he hide his love from the sinners he sought to teach. The same occurs for us. God has not hidden himself from us. God has sent his son to walk among us, sent his spirit to teach us.
The chorus really tears me to shreds as it highlights the selfish nature of mankind. The majority of ‘love’ that we experience from others, from strangers, is given out purely to suit their wants and needs. Our, or rather my, generation plays games, plays with love in an inappropriate way. We give people we’re interested in just enough to get their attention, then they hide. They remove themselves from us, causing doubt and self consciousness in those who’s are left to guess why they the other person has, as the slang term goes, ghosted them. Romantic relationships today have become a game of cat and mouse, where one person, and from my observation is typically men, give enough interest and pieces of their hearts to get the other person interested, before hiding away to see whether or not they will chase after them. Pure selfishness is displayed, and it only leads to a more toxic relationship and a depreciation of self worth. However, God is not like this. His love is not like this. It is fully given to us, it is not broken. It is not given out in bits and pieces, and God does not tease us with the hope of love. God has freely given his love to us which is displayed by Christ! We’re not left to question God because he has left us. We don’t have to second guess God for loving us. We’re not played with by God. God affirms our worth and instills confidence in us! So ladies, never forget your pricelessness! You are precious to God, and his love is perfect in every way! Find yourself in God, find your worth in him! He will not fail you!
Cook builds this concept even more as the song continues, God’s love is described as a fire, being uncontrolled, un-contained! Recently, California has been subjected to devastating wildfires! The images of the fires are unprecedented, and as such show not only the power of nature, but also provide a visible, tangible illustration of God’s love. Cause really y’all, its impossible to fully understand and appreciate God’s love for us! It’s wild! How am I even capable of writing about it, let alone understanding it? God’s love being described like a fire is different than the ways in which we describe romantic love between people. Typically, described as a spark or a flame. Something short lasting and gone in a few moments! How depressing is that? To think of love as a spark or a flame that briefly appears before disappearing forever. However, like a wildfire which burns for week and even months, God’s love has not ceased for any period of time. From the time creation was made, to the time that Christ returns, God’s love for us has not changed. It has not ended! God’s love burns, as Cook described, for the world to see!
You see, many of the romantic relationships people engage in are quickly gone after a few weeks or a few months. They’re focus is solely on one another. Passion is fleeting and quickly gone. We’re left wanting for something more substantial. Something lasting. In this age of hookups and one night stands, we must be careful of remembering the weight and worth of ourselves to God. His love, unlike ours, is not faulty. His love ought to be on display for others. A beacon to call others into something bigger than the selfish desires we attempt to fill by taking what we want from others.
God’s love is not fractured, it’s not troubled. It is not anxious, its not restless. Here a different distinction is made which I think reveals the faults of our ability to love. We, because of sin, are broken creatures. We have doubts, we have fear, we are anxious about what our partners are feeling, thinking. Will they leave us? Are they satisfied in the relationship that we have? Because of our selfishness, its easy for us to get what we want out of a relationship and move on because we’ve become restless. We’ve become bored. We seek what we do not have, and what someone else will give us because our current relationship is not scratching that itch. It’s a devastating thought to think that we’re so broken that even our ability to love is faulty… However, as believers, we have an example of what true, perfect love embodies. God’s love is not fractured, it is not affected by sin. It is not troubled, it has no hesitation to be around us sinners. It is not anxious, nor is it restless. God’s love is relentless in its pursuit of us. It seeks us out, searches for us. God’s love is exactly everything that we lack.
God’s love is not passive, its not disengaged. It hangs on every word we say. All I can really say is wow! Wow! Y’all, how perfectly is this described and illustrated. I can think of a handful of occurrences where I’ve seen couples out on a dates where they’re both engaged solely with their phones, with minimal attention paid to one another. Worse, is when one person is seeking the attention of the other, but their partner is totally engrossed in social media. God’s love is not like this, at all. We’re too valuable to God for his love to be passive. If it were, we’d have no understanding of what love is! It’s attention is intently trained on us, it is eager to hear from us. It seeks us out, seeks to hear our hearts, our desires, our needs. God’s love is present every time, all the time! We’re not left abandoned, left wanting! Even when we choose to run, it is right there behind us ready to take us back into God’s presence.
God’s love keep its promises, which can be seen in the covenants of made to those in scripture and to us as well! God’s love keeps what is sacred. It does not compromise the vows made, the covenants made between us and God. See, God made a covenant with us through his son. Through Christ, we have been brought back to God. We can find peace, we can find true love! God has made a promise to his people, a covenant like that of a bride and groom. To treasure us, to cherish us, to maintain our honor, to care for us. In an unrelenting pursuit of our hearts, God has made every effort to reveal his love to us! To show us the perfect love that we were designed to experience! A love that is not broken, that does not play games, a love that exceeds our wildest expectations, a love that honors boundaries, our purity! God’s love is pure!
Y’all, God’s love is magnificent! I cannot come up with any other means of explaining it. No matter our brokenness, our insecurity, our doubts, our failures, God’s love pursues us! It seeks us out! It longs for us to be with us! God is truly amazing! God’s love reveals to us our worth to God! It affirms our lives, and calls us to be vulnerable! Love is a powerful thing, which is not treated with the reverence in this age. We take it for granted. We abuse it. God’s love presents an example of a love that is unconditional. That is intentional. A love that was displayed by purposeful sacrifice to reconcile our lives back to God! I am unable to fully convey this! My words are hallow compared to God’s. I am limited in my abilities to comprehend it! But I know that God’s love is constantly seeking me out! Calling me deeper! Calling me into the arms of God! So I know, that as I continue in this life, what true love looks like. That I may treat love with caution. That I may protect the hearts of those I come across. That I may know that we are worthy so much more to God, that we ought not sell ourselves short to fill some fleeting desire that will leave us worse off than before! Sin whispers those lies to us in attempt to cause us to auction off our worth to the lowest bidder. But God tells that we are priceless, and that he is better than anything we can seek in this life! So, my friends, cling to the love of God! Find yourself in it’s presence, and let not one steal your worth!
Grace and Peace,
Terren-It-Up