Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Love Bade Me Welcome
In this beautiful poem, "Love" is Christ. M. Catherine Thomas says, "It is better not to do this inner work with guilt and self-recrimination, but rather with fearless trust, within the embrace of the Lord, who picks us up, dusts us off, and whispered, 'We have work to do. Let's get on with it'" (The Godseed, 217, emphasis added).
I have been this intended guest. I drew back because I felt unworthy. I didn't believe I was worthy. After excavating down to find my dark and deeply wounded side, how could I possibly step past the doorway? I would muddy His home! But Christ intends for us to be His guests. I am reminded of the prodigal son. I made the long journey back because I hoped that I could offer servitude to Him, yet He wants us as more than servants! I couldn't believe that was possible after all the ways my soul had been marred and having discovered the monster within myself. So I stood on the edge of His presence, yearning to step forward. We are to become a child of Christ! He is our advocate and mediator; we access God through Him! It was me holding myself back.
He intends for us to work through the mess that has become our lives---the harmful things we have done, our sins, the ways others have sinned against us, the pain, the false perception of limited resources, the energy of scarcity and contraction, the ways we serve our favorite idols, ALL OF IT...He wants all of our heart. I knew that I needed to somehow clean up that mess, but one of the most astonishing things I have learned is that He does not intend for me to be chipping away at this massive ugliness alone and out in the cold. Instead, He has extended an invitation to tackle it with me while I bask in His love. Isn't that incredible!!!? He wants us to sit down and feast with Him! He is well aware of our "dust and sin." I finally realized that no matter how or what I tried, I cannot remove the stains. I cannot change myself. It took a thousand moments of being exposed to the Truth---not manufactured, watered-down "truth,"---to even dare to hope that it is His radical love that automatically changes me. It is the Love that washes away the dust and sin and melts away all of the dross; my unrighteous desires and appetites fade away. He works from within me as I give Him my heart. Truly it is His love that changes us and makes us more fit for His kingdom. And He is so full of it that He literally is Love!
I have recently been experiencing another dimension to this Love that is so breath-taking. As He has cleared away more and more of the clutter and the junk from my heart, it has allowed His love to fill the spaces that were once reserved for other favorite loves: darkness, hate, malice, resentment, grudges, pride, idleness, love of self, the need to defend... As this Love gradually distills into my heart, I am learning that it is not possible for this Love to be contained within only one heart. It never was intended to be that way! It spills over and flows into other thirsty, searching, and hurting hearts "...as we, out of pure love, serve others for Him" (Henry B. Erying). We can become more like our Savior by seeking to bring others into Love from out in the cold. We can become instruments for others to experience Love, especially in their darkest hours. Yet even then, everything I send out simply comes back 100-fold.
I hope you can dare to hope...hope that no matter what you have been through, not matter what has happened to you, no matter the ways you have been hurt, or all the angry or evil things you have done...you are never too tattered or worn to come in as Love's guest and sit at His table to be filled with His Love---the very essence of Him. "It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines" (Jeffrey R. Holland). And do you understand why that is impossible? D&C 88: 6 "He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;" No matter how low we can descend through the experiences in mortality, Christ descended lower. He had to or the Atonement would have been incomplete. Let me show you some other beautiful verse that fill my heart with hope:
Ephesians 4:9-10 "Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." Guess what?! He not only descended below all things, but He also ASCENDED above all things too and is willing and waiting to help us crawl up and out from the shadows (and then continue upward!). He will bring us to Him!
Hebrews 4:15 "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 2:14-15, 18 "Forasmuch that as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Philippians 2:7-8 "But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." He not only descended, ascended, but He also experienced all of our infirmities personally (yet even more fully than we ourselves have because He did so without sin). He is perfectly capable of nurturing us through this process because He literally knows what it is like!
2 Corinthians 8:9 "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rick, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." Is that not Love?! He agreed to The Plan in the pre-earth life and fulfilled His mortal mission because of Love. He beckons to us! He beckons to you. Whatever the "dust and sin" is that would hold you back---your own sins or the sins of others that have tainted your soul---you are bade welcome. Try it. See what it is like to step into that room. Listen as Love speaks to you personally. What does He say? How does it feel in His presence? Drop the insecurities and the lies that would paralyze you, knowing that you don't have to take any of those steps alone or in your own strength! Work in His strength and let Love work in you. He will completely restructure your heart and mind, but why do it out in the cold when you can feast on His love? Stepping into that room is the only part He will not (nor CAN He) do for you. He cannot come in and sit down at that table. He cannot make you open your mouth and take in the feast. He will not force feed you. That is your part. The rest is His.
"Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come!!! unto me all ye bends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price" (2 Nephi 26:25, emphasis).
So, "Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness." (2 Nephi 9: 50-51)