Thursday, March 27, 2008

To Dream of Severe Mercies

I worked for several years at an In-Patient Treatment Centre. The patients were some of the most hurt and afflicted people that I’ve ever had the honour and privilege of counselling. Many of the adults had never learned to make a bed. If they had a sleeping bag while growing up they would have considered themselves rich. To be touched in a manner that wasn’t threatening or demeaning was an experience that was beyond reach of their memories. To these people, the dream of a better life topped out at a room with fewer rats and needles that weren’t so dull. Anyone who is able to read this can't imagine such stifled and diminished dreams.

And what are my dreams? Or yours for that matter? Do they top out at having just a little more money? An enviable home and a good looking partner? Would you consider yourself “blessed” if you could retire at 50 and spend winters in the tropics? Do you think that God would be astonished at how low we dream?

We, as Christians, are citizens of Heaven. The King of Kings, our Creator and Saviour loves us. For pagans, this life is as good as it's going to get. For us, this life is as bad as it's going to get. So why is our focus so low? Why are our dreams so drained of wonder and glory?

A dear and much younger friend of ours just got married. She has complications that will make getting pregnant significantly more difficult than it would be for “normal” people. Anyone who has wanted children but has been unable to conceive knows that this is nothing short of a tragedy. So what is this young woman’s attitude? She said that she is aware that God may have brought this about because He might have other children for her to raise; children that have not been born to her. This is a woman with a strong and mature faith and a solid trust in God. This is a woman who has learned that our deepest blessings most often come to us through God’s severe mercies. She knows that the surest pathway to a closer walk with God and the pathway that is most frequently used by Him to that end is through shattered dreams.

I think God must shake his head in despair and amazement when we “know” that a close relationship with Jesus is most vibrant in the midst of chaos, when we know the comfort that He brings in times of trouble and tragedy and yet we so often neglect to seek His presence, first and most, in times of crisis. Rather than seeking God’s presence in times of emotional or physical or relational pain, far too often we grab the nearest God-substitute and indulge to the limit. To God, our dreams of health and wealth, as though these things were the ultimate that we can experience, must make Him roll His eyes and groan.

O Lord help me to be open to Your desire to lavish Your love upon me. Help me to search for Your Love “As a deer pants for water.” Help me to remember that times of seeming hopelessness are designed specifically so that I can have a close and intimate relationship with you. Thank you most of all for Your severe mercies.


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