Ok, so it’s been just-a-little-while since I blogged about my crazy lil’ hound dog Solomon.
But this afternoon my meditations have been in the book of Ephesians, and as always, with my strange-slightly-silly-mind, I think a beagle-inspired illustration makes the point best.
I’ll let you decide.
So, my meditations have been on that well known, yet absolutely floors you everytime you read it, passage in Ephesians 3.
This is how the Message puts it…
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
And this has been my afternoon’s meditations.
As I have undertaken one of the most momentous admin days known to woman-management-kind.
The extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.
When that word is used to describe the passionate burning love that Jesus has for us, you can’t help but be undone by it.
You seriously can’t.
Because extravagance means exceeding what is ‘reasonable’ and surpassing what is deserved. It means abundance. The very word demonstrates that something has an exceedingly high cost or a value of great worth.
It’s just excessive.
And I was thinking about the love that is poured out on me. When I don’t deserve it. When I doubt it. When I fail to be thankful for it. And sometimes when I do, but often when I’m lacking in so many ways…
When God reminded me of my little beagle.
My little beagle who is just so darn cute.
Except when he empties the kitchen bin all over the kitchen floor.
Then, he’s less cute, and more in BIG trouble.
But as I was talking this passage in Ephesians through with God, hands typing away at the time-intensive, yet not so difficult task in front of me, He reminded me that I am sometimes just like my little beagle.
I get left to my own devices, and the temptation of just emptying that metaphorical bin in front of me is just too much. Because I think it will contain good things, but I don’t realise that it contains the remnant rubbish of the week’s meals.
I mean, is anyone else with me there?
You think the sound of gossip tastes sweet, but you don’t realise it’s a poor substitute for truth and talk that builds up? You think that pride will make you feel good about yourself, but you don’t realise that is the second-best-rubbish of a life that could be lived boasting only in Jesus. You think the bin looks appealing, but you don’t realise that the rubbish will contaminate your living space, your heart space and your life space.
You don’t realise that is, until you tip it over. And then it’s too late. The rubbish is everywhere.
And my dog pulls the bin over for a whole host of reasons that I’m sure aren’t that profound (as I’m pretty sure his brain is quite small). Maybe he’s bored. Maybe he’s hungry. Maybe he’s just forgotten what happened the last time. But truthfully, if he would just wait a little-tiny-amount of time and remember that I never leave him for long, he would have all the walks, and love and food that he could ever want. But he doesn’t understand the waiting, and he doesn’t understand the timing, and he doesn’t really understand the love…
… Because he’s a dog.
But how often to we live like that?
God’s on the way. He’s the healer we need. The rescuer we have been crying out for. The perfect Father. The ultimate Saviour. The only One found worthy. He who will fill us where we lack, forgive us where we turn from our sin, and feed us the very bread of heaven. But instead of waiting and resting and looking in faith…
We settle for emptying that old bin again.
And so God was talking to me this afternoon about this battle. About this reality. And then he said to me.
‘Peta. What do you do when the dog empties the bin?’
And I thought.
And I laughed to myself.
Because although this situation infuriates me at times, truthfully what happens is this…
I walk into my kitchen. I see the mess. I look for the dog. The dog is hiding under the table, normally shaking and looking particularly sorrowful because he knows that he’s been bad. And I look at him, all big eyes and big ears and repentant gaze… And my heart melts. And my anger dissipates, and I instead say, ‘Come on Solly, it’s ok… let’s get you cleaned up’. And as I hoover the kitchen, and clean the dog, and think through what even heavier object I can leave on top of the bin next time to stop this problem, I don’t love him any less. He’s still my favourite dog. He’ll still sleep on the end of my bed that night. Because he’s mine.
And as I thought about this reality, God read me these verses of Scripture again.
And I got what He was trying to say to me.
Because I want to desire Him more than sin. I need Holy Spirit in me more and more and more. I long to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life falling more in love with a Saviour who has done everything to me close to me. I want Him to captivate me.
But grasping Ephesians 3, really grasping it, means that when I do fail, and when I do fall, and when I need a rescuer, that I run to Him and not away from Him. That I run to Him, hating my sin and longing to not go there again. And that I trust that His love never fails, and never changes, and never lets go.
Because we move our Father’s heart. Our weak love, that so often fails, moves Him. Because He sees. He sees the inward battle, and He sees the race well run, and He sees that we long for Him.
And His heart is moved.
It always has been.
It took Him to the cross, and it brought Him up from the grave.
We don’t deserve it, we can’t earn it, and nothing in me merits it. But I can’t outrun it, and I am transformed by it, and it ruins me for anything less than Him.
And He doesn’t change us with a big stick, shouting at us when we get it wrong; He changes us by His Holy Spirit, dwelling in us, and speaking to us, and calling us to abide in Him.
So I want to become holy, by hanging out with the One who is.
And I want to be marked by a fresh revelation of His love.
That defines Love.
Because He is Love.