Sometimes—no, often—more than I need something new, I need to return and remember something that has slipped through the cracks that life has made in me and drifted to settle, unseen, in the corner.
I fight this regular need to return and remember, of course. Newness intrigues. I’d sooner reach for a new book than return to one I've read. And, often, the more unsettled I feel, and the more I need to return and remember where my true hope lies, the more I resist it.
This is one reason I’m so glad God has built rhythms into our relationship, teaching us to tie our remembering to other, physical rhythms as he calls us back again and again to praise him in the morning, to rest on Sabbath, and to remember him through the tangible, tasteable bread and wine as often as we meet. He knows we’re a forgetful people and he meets us here with his love, calling us back again and again to the truth of who he is and who we are and how we fit together.
This morning, in my reading through the Psalms, I reached Psalm 103. It’s a familiar friend, one I memorized years ago. But this morning, right there in the middle, were three verses which stood out to me like bullet points on post-it notes, God’s love-note to me as surely as the pencilled notes Dad used to pop in my lunch bags.
1. I love you
“As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”
As high as the heavens are above the earth—that’s a big love. Big enough to enfold my fear and my anticipation, my dreams and regrets and every detail of life in this world with plenty of space left over.
This is a safe love, a permanent love, a love that invites me to make my home here and find rest (Matt 11:28; John 15:9: Rom 8:38-39).
2. I forgive you
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
As far as the east is from the west—that’s far. Far enough that my sin is out of my view and his. Whatever I fear might get in the way of him loving me, or liking me, he tucks it out of sight like a wise parent removing from view something that would be better for the child to forget.
(Can I take his cue here and forgive myself as he has forgiven me, receiving the gift of forgetting as part of the gift of remembering his great love?)
3. I know you
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him, for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
He knows how we are formed. Of course!
He remembers—fondly, I think—how he, the Master Artist, brimming with love and creativity, stooped and scooped up a few handfuls of dust, shaped and formed it, pouring all his love and wisdom into making something of grandest intricacy and beauty.
“Let us make mankind in our image,” he said, making us the beginning of a self-portrait that would find its full expression in Jesus.
We reflect him! And we’re not him. He remembers this too: our glory, and our frailty; our unimaginably exalted yet humbly frail beginnings. Dust—shaped into the image of God.
And as he shaped us then, with supreme skill and tenderness, so he tends us now, with care and compassion, as his most intricate creation, shaped and held by love, in love, for love.