In Love with a Lion

 

“I will not leave you alone. You are mine.  I know each of my sheep by name.  You belong to Me.  If you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god, that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce on you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body.  Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly.”

Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb

God stalks us.  He never lets up.  We can never, never out run Him.  A popular 182 line poem, from a generation ago, was called “The Hound of Heaven“.  It described a person being pursued by God. This is part of it.

I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated.

                                        –by Francis Thompson

The very remarkable thing is not our prodigal hearts; rather it is the amazing love the Father has by chasing us.  Jesus is consistently reckless about capturing us, and making us his own.  His love is like a homing mechanism in a missile shot at us that defies our escape.  We can weave and dodge all we want, but we have been targeted, and He is coming for us.

The way we talk and posture, it as if it is us that does the choosing.  I’m not saying we don’t to a degree.  But the Bible paints God in a different light.  He initiates, and He chooses.  He superintends our life, choreographing our movements.  If you remember the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis it will support this reasoning.

My Bipolar depression and epilepsy issues can never thwart or nullify Jesus’ love for me.  I can’t point at them as reasons not to be his follower.  He is not intimidated by my medical condition. My brain tumor and the death of my daughter didn’t phase Him. They are merely physical footnotes to the story of my life.

We opened with a Brennan Manning quote. He observes that life with Jesus will involve being torn to pieces and such.  He will not complacently love us, He just isn’t fond of you because you’re sort of a likable person.  His love is rough, and savage and furious.  He is quite tempestuous and intractable.  He won’t let go.  Your issues are probably not as significant as you think.

If you’re depressed, manic, paranoid or delusional you can still surrender to Jesus.  These are not your identity, they are not permanent. Yes, I get depressed and have incredible issues with anxiety.  I have a hand tremor almost all the time.  And I can get really paranoid.  But, I am his follower–first and foremost.

Let Him love you today.  His kind of love will heal you completely.

He will seize you and draw you close. You will find the rest you seek leaning on Him.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30, NLT

“Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.”

 J.I. Packer

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The complete text of the “Hound of Heaven” can be found at:  http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-hound-of-heaven/

Scorners Have a Certain Power

 

I finally broke through and realized that I am a consummate scorner.  I have cultivated this for many years, and especially the last five.  I will tell now, I am to scorning as Tiger Woods is to golf.  I have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a durmoid brain tumor, lung issues with a chemical accident, manic-depression requiring extensive hospitalization, and a low thyroid requiring meds.  And, on top of this, the death of a newborn daughter.

My faith has been extremely challenged through all of this.  I have pastored a church and taught classes at a local Bible college, all with a lot of enthusiasm and purpose.  My students and my congregation were being blessed.  But all of this pretty much disintegrated around me and I found myself with a whole lot of nothing. 

Scorn has never been anything I gravitated to.  But it has ‘seeped’ into my thinking, through a slow and steady presence.  It works like mercury poisoning.  It has touched me as a gradual toxin, slowly sickening me with its constant contact.  I haven’t been connected with the light as I should have.  But over an extensive amount of time, a venomous and noxious filth has been introduced into my heart and my thinking.  It must be like watching someone die from ‘radiation sickness’.

To scorn means to become ” ‘competous’, disdainful, scornful, to mock.”  I never, ever dreamed I would be brought to this point.  But life has continuously rolled over me, and I find I just can’t make it work anymore.  I definitely do understand the promises of God.  But I definitely do not understand God’s grace on me.  But you might as well try to explain the color ‘blue’ to a blind man.

I am Bryan, the scorner.  I am also ‘a spiritual beggar’, with a significant mental illness.  I should be on the streets pushing a shopping cart and drinking cheap vodka.  When I start to scorn, I get mean and cynical.  I’m contemptuous and I sneer at whatever crosses my path that day.  I hear voices and ‘tune in’ radio stations.  All I lack is a ‘tin-foil’ hat, which I have seriously considered.

My depression molds my thinking, and my despair rules the rest.  The promises of God are not for me, and they seem to always be out of my reach.  In many ways, I am an ‘unbelieving’ believer (there are many people like us).  My own frosty coldness and hardness never seems to amaze me.  I don’t want to be this way.  God, help me please.

A defining word, for people like me is this: “self-forgiveness“.  I consider myself above average when it comes to forgiving others.  I look forward to forgiving others.  But, I just cannot forgive myself.  I simply can’t let myself  ‘get off the hook’.  At times I do sense a comfort and a peace over these sins, but very soon they begin to rub me raw.  Like blisters, or ‘a stone in my shoe’, I begin to limp again. They are incredibly persistant.

This is not self-pity.  I am not looking for any manner of attention or warm hugs.  I do though want to open up my darkness so the light gets in.  I must learn to forgive myself, if I will ever walk clean.  This is imperative.  The adulteress who fell at Jesus’ feet and wept managed to forgive herself of a great deal of sin.  Those of us with mental illness/addictions have to come to this same point.  Is Jesus’ love enough to cover me?