Tommy, Davey #1If God is love, then how come...?

(I promise the picture will make sense later.)

We all have tragedies to finish that question. I don't know the answer. But I'm starting to think that, fixated on our tragedies, we often miss the heart of God that peeks at us through the veil of Scripture, because we have a paltry idea of how much God loves us.

I have, since I was eight, looked on the Bible as sacred material. But I'm starting to think God wrote it with one hand tied behind His back, using a rope He gave us - our free will. Bubbling up inside me is a bigger way to see the book on which my world-view is based, and the God it portrays.

Scripture is a sixty-six volume endeavor to show God's dealings with people. It's messy, because He lets us live our lives, and we very seldom let Him help. The record shows that. Fixated on our own concerns, we miss the ways in which He would love to love us, all the while stumbling into the messes that are inevitable because humanity's fallen nature has generated a world that generates tragedies.

So in the Old Testament He set up the Law, so people (who tend to love rules) would have rules to follow, but more often than not, His people broke His laws. Then He sent His Son, and He didn't stop people from killing Him.

It makes for a string of messy stories, unvarnished by heavenly PR. God does not seem to exert Himself on behalf of His own image, or that of His followers. Heck, in the book of Esther, God isn't even mentioned! In many places, He doesn't step in to rescue when we think He should.

And the stories of impossibly bad behavior by some of God's best people are rampant on the pages of the Good Book. The number of Biblical heroes who leave us scratching our heads include, well, pretty much everyone except Jesus. (Can you say Samson? Jonah? even King David? certainly Solomon! And so on.) If Bible books written by murderers were removed, at least thirteen would go missing, including the Pentateuch, the Pauline Epistles, and Psalms.

Yet, I see, bubbling up in the story of God's interactions, His love trying, trying, to break through humanity's resistance, distraction, and general cussedness. In between the messy stories, golden moments shine, where God's love transcends every expectation, breaks every rule, and goes light years beyond what seems reasonable or possible. I made a little list of favorites:

Then we get to the New Testament, and the Gospel of John. Which he wrote, history has it, in his 90s. In other words, decades after the other three gospels were written. He had the benefit of perspective when he sat down to write, and he wrote about things the other gospels never so much as mention:

All of these are astonishing extensions of grace, perhaps more grace than Matthew, Mark, and Luke could comprehend, back when they wrote their excellent accounts. After all, when Jesus ascended to Heaven, His apostles were still expecting His immediate return to establish an earthly kingdom. Perhaps seeing the scope, the huge-ness, of what He did in His time on earth required John's seasoned perspective.

These examples make the point that the love of God, given the ghost of a chance, is unimaginably bigger than our ideas about it. The bulk of the Bible is Him, painstakingly providing for the frail reality of our sin nature, but in these instances and others, His love breaks through. The Old Testament Law was written to codify how His people could engage with Him, but His heart was
always so much bigger.
                       Could We with Ink

(I lettered this verse for my grandfather in 1980, before the internet, so I didn't know to give credit to Frederick Lehman, the author, which I do now.)

My son and his girlfriend took in an abandoned pit bull puppy a year ago and named him Tom. Then, last month, they took in a tiny stray kitten. Tom's first glimpse of the kitten caused his knees to shake, his legs to tremble, and from that moment, he acted, and continues to act, as the kitten's mother, with his nose seldom more than an inch from the kitten's tiny rump. Rob and Sarah's only concern, at first, was that Tom's love would swallow the kitten whole, but that has not occurred.
Tommy Davey 2

I wonder if our Heavenly Father's love for us is like Tommy's love for the kitten - overwhelming in its intensity, almost too much to contain. How would my life be different if I allowed myself to approach my Heavenly Father with that in mind?

Has our idea of our God been too small?

Much of the thought behind this post was stirred up by teaching from John 17 Ministries.

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