This Is Love

Nearly two weeks ago I left the hot, humid plains of Texas for the tree-pocketed basins of Minnesota, glorious in all her October chill and rusty-red leaves. The sun glitters on ten thousand lakes and filters through golden trees like portals to other worlds.

Did you know the sun is different here? If it were a kiss, in Texas it is a harsh, passionate embrace that you can’t escape. Here it is faint, more like the memory of a kiss on my cheek.

Coming home is a kiss hello, somewhere between the passionate and faint caress.

Do you know what I love about God? He is always stirring in me that wherever my heart is, wherever he is, that is home. Makes goodbyes joyful. And it makes hellos continual.

(Do you know what else I love about God? He is rest in the midst of chaos. Eight weeks in Texas, packing, driving, two weeks of family and friends, adventures of city excursions and apple picking, coffee dates and healing conversations, little time to sleep, and a pressing need to breathe.

Jesus, I need rest!

It’s not in sleep.

Jesus, I need rest!

It’s not in coffee and journaling on the porch.

Jesus, I need rest!

It’s not even in heart conversations. It’s only in my love. 

Okay. Okay.

I love that he loves to give me himself when my little world is a blur.)

Coming home, I discovered that I didn’t trust God’s love (this was why he brought me to Texas). There was also a fear in me that I did not love him. At one point I asked him why he waited until I was twenty to bring me into heart living. I have been in an environment my whole life to live this way–why wait until now?

You would not have believed me that I love you.

My heart stirred uncomfortably. I didn’t want to admit that was true. But the evidence that I didn’t believe his love was leaking out all over my life–I was going to other people, experiences, and adventure for life and affection. And it just wasn’t satisfying.

When he told me bluntly that I didn’t trust his love, my heart was in line with the old habits of legalism. I wanted to fix my heart as if I was a broken laptop that just needed the operating system reinstalled. I wanted to prove that I loved him by severing all the things that might steal my love away. That age-old struggle of loving the gifts more than the Giver. There Satan came in with the accusation, You love X, Y, and Z, so you don’t love God.

God, what am I supposed to do?

Don’t do anything. Sit with me.

I simultaneously hate and love that answer.

As it turned out, there wasn’t any time to try to fix my heart in the busyness of being home. We brought two friends with us from Texas and adventured around the city all week. Another thing I love about God is that he is always tilling up my heart. When he knows I’m ready, he pokes me into the plowed earth and waters me with truth.

I told Dad about my discoveries, that God is everything I hoped he would be–despite my struggle with having no other god before me. He said that the new covenant changes everything about idolatry.

Repeatedly in the Old Testament, Israel prostitutes herself to idols because she simply doesn’t trust that God is enough to satisfy her longing for love. There was one king–David–who led them out of idolatry, and even he fell short of the ideal king. Then his greater Son came as the fulfillment of that ideal, saving his people from idols and giving them a new heart and the Holy Spirit so that the deepest longing in their heart is to love God first.

There isn’t even a question of idolatry.

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. I was drowning in it. No one had ever confirmed to me that the deepest longing of my heart is to love God. But Satan had certainly latched onto and twisted that to convince me for ten years that I can’t be free of an idolatrous lifestyle. Just before my dad spoke, he spoke in my head, “What you have to say doesn’t matter.” When I received the truth in my spirit, I felt him flee in anger, ten years of weaving an incomplete understanding unraveled in one truth.

I am walking with new freedom, new power, new joy. He has filled in all the cracks of my foundation. Words are something we use to ascribe meaning to an experience, and the words “God loves me” have never held meaning before. In the days that followed, I have felt a tangible, wonderful weight of that truth. Not just in my head, not even just in my heart. I can feel it physically, like I am a tree in the apple orchard, bowed beneath the weight of so many good things.

I asked God what it is.

This is love.


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