Friday, March 10, 2017

Relentless as the Tide

Lent has always seemed to sneak up on me. But this year, one of my new year goals was to live more intentionally, more fully into the life of Jesus. I have, by no means, been totally successful. Yet, I must say, I have done a better job of it this year than any before. I actually made time to anticipate Lent. Music has played a large part in my prayer life. 

Two songs have been playing in my head over the past three weeks. One, as I stood at the edge of the Gulf with the waves tickling my toes, is "Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew; that I may love what thou doest love and do what thou wouldst do." I felt the breath of God and I have held that feeling close in my heart over that last couple of weeks. 

The other song is "O love that will not let me go". 

I do not listen to "Christian" radio or even too many songs. A bit of Gospel Bluegrass now and again, or Willie Nelson and the Nelson Family doing Gospel large - that is about the extent of my listening to that type of music. Otherwise, I am much more into instrumental, Taize, or Gregorian chants. But  a few years ago, I searched for "peace" songs on Spotify. Several Chris Rice songs came up and I do listen to those. This past week, I have played "O love that will not let me go" so many times as to memorize it.  
George Matheson (1842-1906) wrote the lyrics.

What attracted me initially was the guitar. Then I came to love the sound of Rice's voice - so soothing, so peaceful. It helped me de-stress and breathe properly. Recently, I began to pay attention to the words and came to realize how strongly these verses resonated with my own feelings. 

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

I feel as though I have wrestled with or run from God for most of my adult life. I told God so many times to leave me alone, let me be, yet, that Love hangs tenaciously, relentlessly, steadfastedly to the core of my being. 

That Love wore me out. It overcame deep wounds, scars, and fear. I stopped running, turned and fully faced the power of the Love that will not let me go. As a result, I realized that this life was never my own. I actually knew that as a child, but somewhere in the midst of young/middle adulthood, I lived in a false sense of self. I have offered this self that I thought was my own back to that Love to whom it has always belonged in hopes that the richness of my love will be fuller still. 

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

That light that has shone through me has never been my own. It has always been God's Love shining through me. I know this now. That knowledge allows the light to shine all the brighter so that it is more clearly known to be from God alone.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

I have been blessed with the ability to feel joy, unbridled. My heart has leapt with a hope that is beyond my knowing. Sometimes, that joy comes in the midst of pain and I know...I know that all will be well. 

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

The Cross has always confounded me, in my youth and later. It seemed an icon in some ways - almost a worship of the cross itself rather than what it stood for. Maybe that is the Baptist background in me, always fearing false idols. I see it now as a significant part of understanding that death of this mortal body does not mean the end. It is merely a portal through which we shall pass to get to that "life that shall endless be." I know that death in this here and now is inevitable, even necessary. I cannot escape it. I cannot let the fear of death keep me from following the path of Jesus. 

I read articles I have written in the past and I see such a depth of yearning. I have an understanding of that longing now that has remained elusive previously. I want to be fully a part of this thing called Church. I want my life to be fully about God. Just as tenaciously as God's Love has held onto me, so I want to cling to that Love. 

Breathe on me, Breath of God. Fill me with life anew; that I may love what thou doest love and do what thou wouldst do.

I am on the right path.

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