And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us…”
I have been experiencing a tremendous amount of paradox over the last few months. A paradox is two seemingly contradictory realities coexisting mutually and doing so with a certain level of harmony.
Paradox is that God, the perfect and whole, can come and dwell in the imperfect and broken.
Paradox is God’s love entering into one of the most selfish spaces known to existence: the human heart. Paradox is dying in order to live; giving in order to receive; being led in order to lead.
The great Mystery, the greatest paradox, is the Incarnation: the Infinite God coming to dwell in finite human form; the Creator within the created; the Timeless entering time. The greatest paradox: God actually limiting Himself in human form (my mind is melting). God putting on the cloak of flesh and coming and pitching His tent among us…”
But the paradoxes just keep coming.
For I consider my life to be, in truth, ministry whether others see it or I am feeling it. Fr. Henri Nouwen has said, “the mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway of the unlimited and the unconditional love of Jesus.”
Yes that is paradox and mystery: my own limited, broken, selfish heart being an earthly vessel for the love of Jesus. That is why I have always known that God must break our hearts in order for His love to penetrate, because God’s love is so enormous, so uncontainable, and so unfathomable that our hearts burst open when filled with it. And once they burst, the Living Water of God’s love comes pouring out onto and into our worlds and the people we touch.
But the truth of this, another paradox, is that in one instant I may be a conduit for the love of God and in others I may withhold it, whether consciously or unconsciously. I am truly human. I have seen my life, when in the most vulnerable and inconceivable pain, somehow be filled with God’s love and afford me the chance to walk alongside another wounded soul into healing. And yet again, I have heard numerous times in my life, from those close and not so close, tell me how cold and aloof I am, how mean, how ignorant, and how “far away” I can be when I choose to be. And it is true. I am both.
That is the paradox: God never stops loving me or you, for God cannot deny Himself within us. God keeps on asking me over and over again to be a conduit for His amazing love and grace; some days I am open to the flow of the Spirit and other times I am open only to the selfishness of my ‘flesh.’
But I am learning time and again that the choice is not to remove, fix, or hide the paradox but to make them available to Jesus…to place my own fragility and strengths, my faith and my doubts, my fears and my joys into the hands of Jesus as opportunities to lead and to be led deeper into Him.
The greatest of paradoxes can lead us to deeper truths about ourselves and the God Who loves us passionately and calls us to ever deeper intimacy with Him. So, today I’ll try and embrace the paradoxes, knowing that somehow and in some way, this Lord I have pledged my very being to, will come and be with me and also with you.