Monday, July 11, 2005

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It wasn't a great war, or even a great battle. In the stillness of a Saturday morning, I awoke and fell in love again.

It wasn't that I had meant to fall out of love--I hadn't meant to fall in love in the first place!

I think that love is something that just happens to you sometimes. It slowly rises, like a morning mist in your soul, whispering of dreams and hopes and a bright future, and then one day it bursts forth with surprising radiance and it's everything to you.

I've known love like few people, I think. I've felt that awakening in my heart three times, and each time has been better than the last.

The first time, I was 21 years old, but I was still a little girl in my heart. K was my brother, and my best friend, and I didn't know what had come over me when I woke up sparkling one morning, smiling a smile that was for him alone. I remember looking in the mirror sometimes, trying to figure out who that person was looking back at me--she seemed so innocent after the struggles of the last few years of finding herself.

Then, K decided that I couldn't love him, and that he couldn't love me. Looking back, it seems as if there had been music playing in my heart, a melody I'd never heard, only to have it suddenly muted. The birds stopped singing, and I was haunted by the memories of what I could never have.

Yet it was during this time that I awoke to a second love, a love who would prove to be stronger than the death of my first love, strong enough to hold me captive, yet gentle enough to fill my heart with a soft, new song. Day by day, God Himself knocked at the door of my resistant heart, calling me softly to Himself. I remember the day I realized that I had fallen in love with Him, this God who was so sovereignly merciful, who deigned to love me with all of His life, who provided for all of my needs and filled me with Himself alone.

Oh how I begged this new Father of mine to bring K back. Oh how I longed for the dreams of my child-heart! I asked Him to let me love K with His love so that I could love him no matter what he did--while at the same time cajoling Him to change K so that he would be the man that I had always dreamed of marrying, or to let him be the boy that he was. Day after day, as I walked through the heartbreak of K's refusal to love me, my heavenly Lover proved Himself faithful, all the time changing my heart and preparing me for a love that I never expected.

I hadn't meant to resign myself to never. But I did. As softly as the love crept in, so seeped the insidious hopelessness that I would never be loved in return for my love. I began to believe that God's love wouldn't fill me, that it could never be enough, that no one could possibly measure up to the soft, fresh love that I had once known with K.

I was no longer looking for someone to love with a love of my own. As far as I was concerned, my heart was spoken for by my own choices.

My Abba was at work, though. I think I might have known from the beginning, had I paid closer attention, but I was so busy placing my hope in God only for what I wanted that I completely missed the love that He was building in my heart for the man who would become the one my soul loves.

In my friendship with Pete, God continued to deepen me, to change my heart to be more like His. God challenged me to open my heart to a friendship with Pete--even though I was afraid of him and what I suspected I could feel for him. "Will you be his friend, and allow him to be your friend, Kelly?"

Dutifully, I obeyed, and then it wasn't a duty at all! I thought I had lost love, and then I discovered one day that Pete loved me, and the wonder of it scared me back into my shell. There was no one on earth with whom I felt so safe, so treasured, so cherished. And still my song was uncertain, for I had made a commitment to a dream of my own.

The months passed, and I consented to become a wife, hoping against hope that I could truly love someone besides K with all of me. There was so much that I didn't know and wouldn't trust my Lord for. I held so tightly to Pete's love for me that my own began to wane, and the hopelessness returned. It was only matter of time, the dark voice reasoned, until I did something so wrong that he wouldn't love me, or that God would take him from me.

In the stillness of a Saturday morning, I listened to a poem about Job. Job tells his new little daughter Jemima about the God that he found at the end of his suffering, a God who answered his loss with only Himself. His love is a consuming fire, and once you have been captured by it, how can you help but ascribe to His love the sovereignty of your suffering? For as I listened to one man's explanation of the God who stole his heart, I felt my own heart quietly awakening to this great Person who loved me so much that He would even be gentle with me through the dark valley of my sorrow.

What began with a soft and broken "Alleluia" turned my prayer from pain to repentance and from repentance to a quiet joy that reminded me that though I might not be able to explain why K broke my heart, or why God allowed it to be broken, it was still all right to wait for someday, when the God who answers my sadness has turned my mourning into joy at the sight of Himself in all of His beauty and glory.

I do not know why this God set me apart for Himself. I do not know why He didn't answer my prayers for K. But even while I was praying them, while He was changing me, He was gently bringing Pete into my life to give me to him as His gift of love to Pete. I never thanked Him. I didn't even want to acknowledge His part in it for fear that He would take Pete away, yet still He gave, still He loved.

Still He loves.

There was no struggle with the pride or ugliness that I expected. I simply gave it to Him, for as Jesus was on earth, so am I before my God. Jesus bore the condemnation, the wrath, the struggle with that sin in His own body, and now my heart is healing, and I can give again. I can love again. I can pray again.

My heart skips a beat when I think about Pete now, and though there will probably always be sorrow in my heart for K and his choices, I know that I want to give myself to Pete. I cannot tell how thankful I am, how joyful my heart is, knowing that God would give me such a gift that I cannot deserve. The wonder is growing, moment by moment it seems, as we prepare for our wedding in a little less than three months. Our love is full of His love, and completely by His grace in our lives.

I awakened on Saturday morning and I fell in love with God again. I didn't mean to fall out of love with Him. I didn't even mean to fall in love with Him in the first place. It just crept in on me when I was unaware of it.

Now I am glad of it, for His is a love like no other I will ever know.

"As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness."
~Psalm 17:15


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