“Abba, are you disappointed with me?”
“Tell me, disappointment, what does it mean?”
I google it: “The feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”
“I am the One who works out everything according to my plan. My hopes and expectations are never unfulfilled.” (Ephesians 1:11)
“But. . . how? I’m so often disappointed with me. How are you not?”
“I knew it all in advance. I planned for it. In my eyes you have never been just you. I chose you and created you “in Christ,” one with him. When I chose you – before I created the world – I chose him to be one with you, so that all my hopes and dreams for you would be fulfilled. When I chose him, I chose you, to be the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Do you see?”
“For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4)
“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20)
“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
“But. . . what about when I fail? Aren’t you disappointed then? I can’t keep all of your commands for even a single hour. Every moment I’m holding something back, failing to love you with all of my heart and soul and mind and strength.”
“That’s why you’re joined to Jesus. It’s why you’re in him. Every moment when you fall short, he is there. Being enough. Enough not only to cover your sin but to work within the situation and fulfill my plan to bring you deeper and deeper into my heart.”
* * * * *
I try to understand mystery, am brought back to this concrete world of flesh and bone and skin. Skin, this place of being bounded and limited, bordered and contained. To those who love us, it becomes a place of delight, of intimacy.
A newborn baby is placed skin-to-skin with her mother, allowing bonding to begin. Chest to chest, mouth to breast, skin and skin together bring closeness. In infancy and sickness and death, we care most intimately for each other touching skin to skin. Stroking. Washing. Kissing. Preparing for burial.
Touch releases tears. Awakens delight. Breaks hearts and heals them. And when skin and skin touch in the deep places, the dark and hidden ones, the bond created cannot be broken without tearing each heart in two.
And I see that now, in Jesus, the limitations and weaknesses which border and contain us can be as much a potential area for delight and intimacy with Him as the deep places of our skin with a human lover. This place of darkest fear, when I allow Him in, becomes the very place I can discover His love most deeply. Longing and brokenness call me constantly to come to Him for healing. Our caverns of emptiness can become the places most full of God.
This is the cry of grace. God’s love does not overlook our limitations. He does not merely love us in spite of our weaknesses. His love is bigger than that. It enfolds all. He embraced us fully, wore skin himself to unite his very being with us in our most hidden and shameful places. Having been united with him like this in his death, will we not also be united with him in his resurrection? And so He cleanses these darkest places, fills them with himself. Light himself lives within us. Having so embraced us, He delights in us, not despite the limitations but including them. He sees us now as whole and holy, completed by Himself. Our wounds and weaknesses become no longer places of disappointment to be hidden in shame but potential spaces for the delight of deepest union.
“’My grace is all you need. My strength is most full in your weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God who draws near,
You chose to unite yourself with me
in the darkest places of my soul.
Now there is no place I need fear
opening to you
for you enfold all in your love.
May I not try to fill
the empty places myself
and so run from your love,
but return, again and again,
to the healing power of your embrace.
Writing today in community about “The Practice of Easter.”