It's my day off! And to celebrate, I decided to leave Manhattan behind for the day and make an exodus back to the promised land of Topeka. Upon my arrival, however, I was subjected to even crueler slavery as I helped with the deck my parents are building behind our house. (Actually, I didn't help very much. I'm not very skillful with a drill.) On my drive down I-70 today, I was thinking about what I wanted to write, and I thought a little about how my blog posts tend to fall into three categories. First, there are those posts that don't really have much to do with anything but are aimed at generating a slight chuckle, so that people will tell me, "Oh David, you're post on the Bystander Effect was so funny! You're definitely going to have a hot wife with a humor like that!" Second, there are those posts where I objectively think about whatever topic and write something in a more analytical way. Third, at times I type up emotionally-driven musings that sort of run in circles until I feel like I've gotten it off my chest. I'm somewhat of a closet emo, I think. How embarrassing.
I was at high school camp at King Solomon this week, and it went great. It's my home camp, so I always love to get to go back (and I'll be there for two more weeks this summer, so....hooray.) But yeah, it was a great week, my family group was awesome, and fun was had by all. Especially by the 300 mosquitoes that feasted on my flesh. One song that we sang a lot during the worship services this week was "How He Loves" (which should be playing right now if you have your sound on. Listen to it. It's good). The song is really simple but has some really cool metaphors in talking about just how much God loves us.
God's love doesn't make sense. Perfect, unconditional love exists in so few places, and cheap, flippant love takes it's place in so much of the world. We have a God who loves us fully. Whose love is beyond our mental grasp. Who loves us regardless of our pasts, our faults, and our obnoxious habits. Who, even as we backstab him and blaspheme him and ignore him, continues to love us. Who loves even those who want absolutely nothing to do with him. It's more fantastic than I can get my poor mind around. But even though I don't totally understand it, I can cognitively accept the fact of God's perfect love.
Often, the bigger problem is that it's so hard to feel God's love. One day of camp, we talked about truth, and we discussed how even when we know it a truth, it can be a greater obstacle to accept that true. God's love is true, but it's a pretty hard truth to swallow at times. When we feel heart-broken and hurt and lonely, it's hard to accept that God's love is near. When we feel sinful and dirty and unworthy, it's hard to accept that God's love is unconditional. When we feel proud and independent and self-sufficient, it's hard to accept that God's love is needed. Sure, in my head I can think, "God loves me," but what do I do when that love feels so distant? When I can't sense it working into my life? I think the psalmists felt similarly at times:
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" Psalm 13:1-2
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent." Psalm 22:1-2
"I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted." Psalm 77:1-2
You might notice that all of these examples come at the very beginning of the psalm. I think that's probably because by the end of each one, the writer is praising God for his love and mercy, recognizing that the truth of God's love doesn't depend on whether or not we feel it at the moment. I especially like Psalm 13:5-6, where even after complaining that God has forgotten him, David writes, "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me."
I'm not totally sure how to do that. It's crazy how David is able to feel so dejected but still remain so faithful and confident in God's provision. I have a great deal to learn when it comes to that. I guess what needs to be accepted is that God's love is true. And it's also true that at times things suck and it's difficult to see that love or to feel like it's enough. But that doesn't make the truth of God's love any less true. The ability to be confident in that love in the midst of crappy circumstances is what carries us through. That's sort of what faith is. Holding onto what is unseen/unfelt.
It's probably good to ask how we can better emulate God's love in the here and now. My family group at camp talked about how, as Christians, we're to be like the moon. The moon doesn't generate it's own light, but only reflects the light of the sun. Similarly, we need to be reflections of the character of God to the world and to one another, and reflecting God's love is a huge piece of that. There's an interesting truth about love. Love is never about the lover, but only about the object of the love. Selflessness and love are joined together. When Christ came, he emptied himself, surrendered himself, and became nothing. Even as both his heart and body ached, he put others before himself. That's the kind of love we need to show. When I feel hurt and broken, I'm still need to consider myself healthily unimportant. I'm to love God and love others first. To love always and unconditionally. That's what God does for us.
Unrelated topic change: Maybe there's been a time in your life when you experienced something really crappy, but when you go to bed you have a dream about that same crappy experience happening. So when you wake up, you at first think, "Whew, it was only a dream." But then you realize that it's something that actually happened, and it's really, really unfortunate. It's quite the bummer when our problems follow us into the solace of sleep. Maybe I need to eat more pizza and pork rinds before I go to bed, so that I have crazy dreams about flying purple toaster ovens or something. That sounds way more fun.