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Sipping my raspberry black tea this morning and hoping my wet hair dries by the fireplace before I have to go get dressed for work. My cat bats at my robe tie, as I quickly catch up on the Facebook happenin’s and my email’s inbox. Including drive time and awkward in-between errand time, I was at school for almost 15 hours yesterday. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. But that is the nature of the beast the week before Christmas break if you work at a middle school. Sandwiched between immature adolescent boys last night in an effort to keep their talking to a low roar during the choir/drama/dance concert, I couldn’t help but smile . . . giggle . . . laugh out loud at their antics. An entire row would strike identical, comical poses for my benefit. Then, a student behind me would wrinkle his nose in disgust after perusing the pew Bible . . . in the book of Song of Solomon. “It’s just a love story,” I tried to console him. “Just a love story.”

Just a love story . . .

Is that what we tell ourselves when we don’t understand God’s plan, and we like it even less? This life . . this reality . . . this pain . . . it’s just part of some incomprehensible love story our pastor told us God is orchestrating. It’s okay to wrinkle your nose in disgust and ignore the passionate intimacy drawing you in, making everything else okay, overwhelming with its power. I think not.

Just a love story . . .

I had 15 hours to throw myself a pity party yesterday. And, boy, am I good at those when I set my mind to it. Thank goodness “wallowing” is exhausting, or I might make a regular habit out of it. As it is, I was not surprised by joy yesterday, as I so often desire to be. Rather, I was surprised by love. God’s love. For me. Overwhelming, passionate love. Love that is bigger than the twists and turns that I don’t like. Love that is more gripping than any season of pain. Love that searches for me. Waits for me. I’d forgotten about love.

Just a love story . . .

Stop and take a few moments to go back with me to the very beginning, to the moments when God first gave life to mankind. Common dirt became priceless clay in the Potter’s hands, as He fashioned Adam’s nose, crafted his mouth, wrapped sinew around bone, designed each finger and each toe. Then, God covered Adam’s face with His own and breathed life, spoke immortality into existence, stamped this creation with the mark of His love.

Man soon sins and hides from the Face of God, the Face that breathed life, the Face that delighted in love. God seeks man out, sacrifices an innocent animal, and makes a way – a way to see His Face once again. But, now, the seeing takes dying. God’s Face, the features of His love, now becomes visible through death. Sacrificial death. His death. Ultimately, our own deaths. Death to self.

Just a love story . . .

Sitting in the warm, still-running car last night in between the final school bell and the commencement of the concert, I held cell phone to ear, my Mama’s voice speaking life to my heart. “Why do you think Jacob wrestled with God, and then called the name of the place of his struggle Peniel?” she asked. “It’s because Peniel indicates that Jacob had seen God’s Face in the flesh and lived. Honey, you too have seen God’s Face and lived.”

Have we seen God’s Face, the features of His Love, and lived? Have we first tied ourselves to the altar, picked up our cross, and .  .  . died? Died to all that would lie to us and foster fear of the unknown. Died to all that holds on with white knuckles to our plans, our desires, our timing. Died to our old names and been born into new ones. Names forged from struggling with God. Names forged by the permanent limps that testify to the broken roads and the redeeming Glory. Names that testify that God-With-Us displayed His Face again for us, among us.

Just a love story . . .

In the midst of my desperate pleas for a miracle, I’d forgotten who it was that I was beseeching. Not a God who teases. Not a God who strands His children. Not a God who authors evil or confusion. Rather, the God who Loves. The God who shows His Face and lavishes His Love. The God who struggles with us, touches our most tender places of pain, and allows the scars to remind us of our new names, our chosen deaths, His salvation.

It’s just a love story, but one I don’t want to miss. 

 

 

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