How far would you go for love?

He met me at the airport. That’s when I knew my husband really loved me. When he met me at the airport.

We had only been dating for a few months when we hit our college summer break. He went to live with his family in Minneapolis. I went to work in the inner city in Los Angeles. We traveled the tricky road of a long distance relationship, trying to keep our love going forward through intermittent letters and phone calls. As the summer was coming to a close, I was uncertain of our future together. It seemed like we were on different paths.

But as we talked about the end of the summer schedule, we talked about me coming to Minneapolis for something. I had no idea how I would get there since my return flight went to Chicago, where my car was parked. And I didn’t want to make the seven hour drive by myself.

That’s when Kirk did something tremendous. He bought a one way flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, met me at the airport, and made the drive with me.

By the end of that drive, my feelings had shifted dramatically. I went from feeling like our future together was uncertain to feeling like there was no one on earth I would rather marry.

He came for me himself. His love for me was displayed in a bold action.

God displayed His love for me in an action even bolder. The Creator crossed into His creation.

This is the central claim of Jesus. He doesn’t just claim He is a teacher or a good moral leader. He claims He is God Himself.

After saying He is the Light of the world, Jesus (understandably) is questioned about His identity. After a long dialogue with the Jews about whether He was claiming to be greater than Abraham, Jesus finally says,

“Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” – John 8:58

Jesus is clearly referencing the holy name of Yahweh. A name given to Moses many years before.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  - Exodus 3:13-14

The Israelites considered the name of Yahweh to be so holy that they didn’t even utter it or spell it in its entirety. Yet, Jesus not only says this name, He claims it as His own.

The Jewish crowd responds by trying to stone Him.

How do we respond?

Do we think this statement crazy? Do we disregard it and move onto other teachings of Jesus that are easier to follow, like “love your neighbor as yourself?” Do we assume that there was some sort of misunderstanding and He wasn’t really claiming to be Yahweh?

Or do we take Jesus at His word? What if… what if… we accept that this statement is in fact true? What if the God of the Universe crossed the gap between the Creator and the created, the infinite and the finite, the limitless and the limited? What if the One who formed human skin put on human skin? What would that say about His feelings for us?

God’s love for us is displayed in a bold action.

“This is the story of God: he pursues us with his love and pursues us with his love. And even if you reject his love, he pursues you ever still. It is not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come. This is the story of Jesus, that God walked among us and he pursues us with his love. He is very familiar with rejection but is undeterred. And he is here, even now, pursuing you with his love.” – Erwin McManus

Jesus is not just a prophet or a teacher. Jesus is Yahweh. And Yahweh is love.

That is what Jesus saying “I am” reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one, Walking through the woods at night.

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mud pies and eternity

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” This quote is from C.S. Lewis’ essay, The Weight of Glory, published in 1941. It is one of my favorite quotes. I love it because it points to how much more there is to our human condition than what we see around us. We are fooled by instant gratification when the reward offered by eternal living is so much greater. It is an essay about heaven and glory that I re-read recently, longing to fill my head with more timeless ideas and writing than I usually seek out from my time on the computer. Here are some reflections on some of my favorite quotes from it.

“To please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”

“Look at me, Mommy!” I hear this many times a day. When learning to swim, when building something with Legos, or even when simply sitting on the couch, my son is desperate for my attention. He wants me to notice him. He wants me to be proud of him. Could it be that the childlike desire to make someone proud actually points to the eternal? To a God who delights in us? Who, at the end of days, longs to says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” What joy can be found when we focus on the activities He has told us to do, knowing that it makes Him proud?

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it…. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.”

There is so much breath-taking beauty to be found in nature. I can gaze at sunsets, oceans, trees, flowers, mountains, and stars to the point that I become oblivious to what else is going on around me. When that gaze is broken, I have a sense of sadness. I want the beauty to last. I take pictures to try to remember and make it something I can carry with me. Could it be that this appreciation of beauty, this desire to gaze at it, helps me understand what glory is? That the beauty of nature is a reflection of the glory of its Creator in the same way that we are meant to reflect His glory? Will I one day be as beautiful as a sunset?

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

I can have compassion on someone going through difficult life circumstances once I know his or her story. But when someone brings 20 items into the 10 item check out or is rude to me on a customer service line or asks me for money when I am in a hurry to get somewhere, I can easily forget that they are a person. What a challenge to remember that each person on this earth is an eternal being, with the potential of splendor beyond my imagination. How can that change the way I interact with others in the simplest of life circumstances?

I am inspired by C.S. Lewis’ words. I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee and read this essay in its entirety (It’s only 9 pages). If you’re like me, you may have to re-read sentences and paragraphs a few times to really understand them. My brain is not used to its’ theological yet poetic phrasing. But it is worth muddling through.

If you read it, I would love to hear from you. What did you find thought-provoking? Anything you disagreed with? Any favorite quotes?

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feels like home

I was able to take a short trip back to Madison. My first trip back since I moved. When I arrived, I discovered it was the little things that made me nostalgic. Pedestrians that overflow the sidewalks into the streets. A casual coffee-shop-style restaurant with a vibe far different from a chain. Crowds mixed with artsy college students, professional academics, and retired urban couples. Recycle bins readily available. Wisconsin beers on tap. Bicycles tightly packed into a long rack.

Madison feels like home. I recognize landmarks. I am familiar with restaurants. I have a sense of direction on the roads. I have an unspoken connection to the city; We understand each other.

I was able to get together with a few close friends while we were there. That’s when Madison really felt like the place I belonged. Deep conversation. Shared history. Easy laughter. Unspoken understanding. I am at home in those friendships.

Though the visit was less than 24 hours, it was rich, beautiful, and needed. Whether brought about by people or places, the feeling of home is a blessing. It is a profound sense of peace. It is a deep breath for my soul.

In reality, though, nothing on earth is my home. 1 Peter 2:11 says we are aliens and strangers here. Philippians 3:20 says that our citizenship is in heaven.

One day, we will have a new home. Jesus says

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” –John 14:1-3

Imagine what it will be like to feel at home all the time. To feel at home where we are. To feel at home with who we are with. To feel at home in our own skin.

It will be more than a deep breath for our souls. It will be a new life for our souls. That thought brings me joy today.

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