Making Sense of God's Love
God is not surrounded in love! Love is the essence, the construction of His being. Love emanates from Him, radiating indiscriminately into both the aware and the unaware. All recipients are ineligible for His love, fortunately eligibility is no criteria for its reception. Love is in fact His essence without it - God is not god!
A God whose essence and construction is love surely sees all frailties, failings and fears. He knows my losses and walks beside me in my despairs.
The deprivation of human affirmation, the absence or finitude of warm human response sears across the soul and spirit. Yet such sufferings aren't impediments to ‘being seized by the power of a great affection'# for this is what the Cross intends for us.
No-one is exempt, no discrimination delivered or even considered as His ungloved, outstretched and bloodied hand extends gently downwards towards my life and person. My past indiscretions, my present spiritual vagaries coupled with my fears for the future are all observed and attended to by His love. In fact these items of life can become the very receptors, the landing places to feel grace without criticism and affection without conditions.
His call on my life I have risked through my sinfulness, but it has never diminished. His outstretched hand of grace may have been blocked by my avarice but never diluted, and His loving eyes of devotion reddened by my wilfulness but never closed to me.
The heart of tenderness that knitted me together, that saw me unformed in my mother's womb, that named and called me from before time and that even established works in advance for me to do, still retains the same softness for me it held at the foundation of the world. This has not diminished. I may even be His enemy still, but He still loves me - for that is being Godlike, the ability to love those who hate you!
His heart of grace and His heart of giving has not hardened over time. It is not weather-beaten or calloused, and the heat of the day has not withered it. It maybe war-torn but it is not weary. It remains permanently soft and tender towards me.
Whether I am an alien to Him, an enemy of Him or intimate with Him, His heart for me remains trustworthy and constant. My heart may well be shallow, certainly is indulgently sinful and no doubt bruised - these facts He will not hold against me.
‘If I am graced to understand with my head and to accept with my heart that the essence of the divine nature is compassion, then God is best defined by the heart of tenderness."#
Daily He maintains at costly effort this tenderness to me. It soars across His cosmos as a canopy of warm light. Daily this heart of tenderness yearns for relationship with me, draws me towards Him and invites intimacy. His tender heart for me is to engage with me - this is the heart of His heart! It is at His core to care for me!
He thinks far more highly of me than I may be likely to. He will speak far more generously and gently to me than others may have or still do. His unshakeable desire is to elevate me, not crush me - to call me and not to kick me.
In that chameleon-like Old Testament prophecy - Zechariah - judgment, justice and victory are spoken of by God. This book opens and closes with His tenderness. Tenderness is the brackets for this difficult prophecy.
“On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty." Zech 14:20-21
The pot and the bell are unable to elevate themselves. God does this easily.
God makes the valueless valuable and the menial meaningful. God adds value by calling the valueless into His service. He does what none other can or will do. That which has been trash becomes treasured.
He identifies the identifiers of the cattle as His. That which has no self identity now does. He raises the low to high tasks. The polluted He makes pure! This is his heart of tenderness. He elevates the ignoble and makes them noble. His elevation will always deliver both dignity and purity.
To conclude then where we began - this God who is love without change, who is gentle and kind to me -- still desires to bring release, refreshment and repair into my life each day. His heart is still and always will be for tenderness to me!
# Quotes from Brennan Manning - The Wisdom of Tenderness, Pub: HarperCollins NY 2004