What Grateful Love May Look Like
The bride, she always wears white.
And the day I get married, I do, yet most of my life I’ve worn black.
I know who I’ve been.
The first memory I ever held was the blood of my sister running, ponding, everything alive draining away. I came from there.
We breathed grief. Black fears formed me.
There were years I cut myself along the thin skin of the wrists, wild for a way out of a darkness that chokes.
On a Sunday morning, we sit in our country chapel. Shalom slips up on the Farmer’s lap. I sit waiting, rubbing my wrist. Rubbing the edge of my black cuff. Before us is the bread and the juice of the vine.
The loaf of bread will be broken in half. It will be pure white. I can never thank Him enough.
It’s still in the sanctuary. The notes begin. One woman’s quavering voice beginning alone.
“When I survey…”
The wondrous Cross with a Savior.
The nails right through.
The Glorious Way out of everything that has been.
Out of all this black … the horror of death, the relentless prison of fear, the way pain pursued, a whole family aching endless with wounds we couldn’t heal. Him the only Way out of….
And when I survey, she’s there too, way in the back of my past, Kay Arthur on a long-ago platform.
Her voice is quaking with Calvary’s Love — it’s Hell and it’s Healing, and I’m not yet twenty one, and when she tells me what Love saved me, the spit and the beard plucked cruel, His ribs rising and falling hard, wild gasp for breath, the purest God-Man subjected to vilest humanity — all my hard exterior cracks right open and runs liquid and what do we know of true love?
See from His head, His hands, His feet….
Sorrow and love flow mingled down…
And I’m sitting there before communion, rubbing my wrist.
And all I can think of is that woman in Luke, the one in the shadows with her alabaster jar. She’s weeping in the black of the back. She knows who she’s been.
She’s this full rain falling.
She’s this heart water let loose.
Him so pure and his feet so dirty. Her so filthy and Him her only purity.
Will any one wash His feet with their love?
And that woman, she has no pitcher but she has passion — the kind no Pharisee could ever understand and she has no water but she has her heart.
She pours it out. She pours it out.
And with no towel but tresses, no handcloth but her hair, she does the unthinkable, the scorned and the disgraced.
When all Jewish women were required to keep their hair done up, less they be seen as shameful and loose, she lets her locks down.
Rabbis, men of the law, said that if a woman loosed her hair in public, let her hair flow mingled down, it was grounds for divorce. Grounds to be shamed and sent away.
But there is a love far greater than law.
That Luke woman, she let her hair loose, lets her love loose and she looks loose and there will be always be Michals who will scorn David’s dancing before the ark.
But Jesus? He lets her kiss Him.
It seems shocking, appalling, too intimate, and this kataphileo, these kisses, this is the same word, katephileo, of the father kissing the prodigal son, a symbolic picture of God embracing, the father falling on the neck of his child and kissing, and doesn’t the whole realm of earth need to be seized with a power of a great affection, “for we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Eph. 5:30).
The Pharisee had no water for His feet, but she gave her heart water.
And the Pharisee had no towel, but she laid out her loose, silken hair.
And the Pharisee gave no kiss, but she could couldn’t stop kissing His feet, her grateful love the most expensive perfume — the kind that cost her the respect of men, but earned her the pearl of great price, the acceptance of Jesus — “for she loved much” (Luke 7:47 ESV). …
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
She gave her grateful love as an intimate gift.
And her heart water and costly love are gifts fully received and accepted by Christ.
And our God is the God who whispers, “Call Me Husband.”
The God who says, “yet you were naked and bare and then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness… and entered a covenant with you so that you became Mine.” (Ez. 16:8-9).
God of the holy love who can’t stop writing a love story — His sacred canon opening in the Genesis with two becoming one flesh — and in the last book of the holy writ, the culmination of His heart, the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:19).
The Saviour celebrates communion with His Bride, the spiritual oneness He made her for and He is spirit and we speak not of physical but of spiritual and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
God’s own hallowed metaphor for His love is the Friend who invites us to call Him more than friend, the very Husband, and He calls our idolatry nothing short of adultery (Jer. 3:8-10).
Will any one wash His feet with their love?
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small…
I’m murmuring the notes of the song before communion and these inner dark clouds split into white, the brecho that breaks, and “No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.” (Elie Wiesel).
In the middle of the hymn, Shalom’s leans off the Farmer’s lap, leans her face into mine that’s emerged from the dark, her long hair, curling wisps, framing everything and she reaches out to touch my cheek…
My wet cheek. I can never thank Him enough.
She who’s been freed of much, freely loves and she who knows how she’s forgiven, how she gives thanks. She gives back everything.
It is possible to have a form of religion and not be formed by love for Christ.
And it’s possible to see the law but be blind to love.
And love that is Truth, no matter what, is what never fails…
Who feels such gratitude for their salvation in Christ that they live such affection for Christ?
Who can say just this, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you“? O Please, Lord… let it be said of us.
What’s greater proof to the world of the power of the gospel of Christ — than the world witnessing the power of profuse love for Christ?
Shalom brushes away what’s running down, all my rain, and she barely whispers it, “Why you cryin’, Mama… and smiling?”
I have no words. Just shake my head. Just eyes on the words of the hymn.
Just love falling.
“Because of Jesus, Mama?”
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul,
demands my soul,
love demands my soul,
A Hymn of Grateful Love
(RSS Readers: click here to view “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross” video in post… just click off the music slider at the very top of the blog, right under the header. Thank you for grace…)
“Therefore, that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts—in short, that mystical union—are accorded by us the highest degree of importance.” ~John Calvin
“lean on Christ his beloved and live by communications of grace from Him.” ~ Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards
“So again, we being united to a divine person, as his members — can have a more intimate union and intercourse with God the Father.” ~~ Jonathan Edwards: the Excellency of Christ