God speaks to each of us as He makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy (Riverhead Books: 1996), 88.
If I am honest, some days my faith in God is more ‘decaf’ than real. In fact, most days I prefer having a decaffeinated faith because it looks and tastes like the real thing, but it is guaranteed to not keep me awake because I sometimes fear living a spiritually awakened life.
And knowing and being known by God, and choosing to follow Jesus, is all about waking up: waking up to the truth of unconditional love, waking up to the call to sacrifice and service, waking up to being forgiven and being called to forgive all wrongs.
Today while I was doing my usual Saturday ritual of walking around the lush grounds of the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, VA, I yelled out to God in my desperation: “I don’t want decaf faith, Lord!”
What I want is a faith that wakes me up – fully human, fully alive – prepared to be Present to all of life, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, pain and joy; awakened in such a manner as I see and taste God in all the experiences of the day. I pine for a faith that is more “red eye” than decaf, an extra caffeinated faith that hinges on these two truths: that God is a Living God and that God is Love.
I am an equal opportunists; this is evident by the fact that I am going to repost a writing from someone who I am not a big fan of – John Piper. But I read this and it surprised me; it surprised me because it came from John Piper (known by me for his vitriol and dogmatic rigidity).
So, in the spirit of “reaching across the aisle” so to speak and building community, in the spirit of helping people grow spiritually by stretching comfort zones and minds and hearts, I repost this devotion written by John Piper.
“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)
God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; God is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.
This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.
We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.
That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end.
Source: excerpted from The Pleasures of God, pages 172–174