Thursday, November 12, 2015

How Do I Love Thee...

Scott and I attended a church pastored by an older man from West Virginia -- yeah, homey. Sometimes he'd tear up; sometimes he'd get a little loud. Scott loved him. But older men retire, and he did. The new pastor, a bit younger, was an intellect. I enjoyed learning about the Bible in light of Jewish texts, and examining background information. The more I learned in his midweek Bible study, the more I wanted to learn. Scott was lost in the sauce. Scott was Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, and I was Horton's Portable Seminary. We began to feel God's leading to find another church. How on earth would my intellectual thirst be quenched in a place where Scott found inspiration and guidance? Well, it's taken me almost two years to get it, but the answer is: it won't. It won't, because that's not what God wants for me. "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) Not a thing in there about earning a doctorate in Theology in your spare time. Don't get me wrong; God does not want us to be ignorant, but when we love His Word more than we love Him, we are idol worshippers. And I had become an idol worshipper. I took notes until my fingers cramped; fast-forwarded through the "application" parts of online sermons just to get to the facts. I rarely poured out my heart before Him, and even more rarely sought what was in His. He had been telling me for two years -- at least -- to stop compiling facts and start living in His presence.

Well, I've begun. And this amazing thing has happened. I am realizing just how much He loves me. Me. Judi. Specially. Particularly. Personally. Deeply. And He chooses to show His love by showing me that He knows even the simplest things that trouble my heart or lighten it. Let me give you an example:

My mother was bitten by a dog when she was about six years old. Her father got rid of the dog, but she was terrified of dogs afterward, and had cats her whole childhood. Somewhere along the way, something changed. I distinctly remember Mom picking her new dog out of a litter of pups in a muddy garage. She loved that dog. Even after I left home, my mom had a dog. Several years ago, I bought her a dog. Always a dog. About a year and a half ago, Mom's dog died. She was crushed, and wanted a new one. Mom was having a few issues living on her own, and I thought a dog would be a little hard for her to handle. Plus, realistically, Mom is eighty-five: if something happened to her, what would I do with this dog? I'd even asked a friend to keep her ears open for anyone looking to home an older cat. But, Mom wanted a dog. The more she pleaded, the more awful I felt. Fast forward to August this year, time for Mom to move in with us. And Tinkerbell. And Bishop. This morning I was leaving for a bit. She asked, "Will my babies be staying here with me?"

"Yes, Mom, the dogs will stay here."

"You know I was bitten by a dog when I was in first grade or so."

"Yes, I know. Your dad's dog."

"I always had cats. I never wanted dogs. I never liked them until I met these two dogs."

Wow. God, did You really do that? God took something that -- let's face it, didn't keep me awake at night, but it made me feel bad. (And that's not hard to do in this season of my life; some days I feel like all I do is tell Mom what to do, or what not to do.) This thing that gnawed at me, months ago; that I'd never resolved, but merely forgotten. God -- not Alzheimer's -- erased all recollection of it in my mother's mind. It was not enough that she was appeased by the company of our two brutes, but Mom doesn't even remember liking dogs before these two. And it was because He loves me. All I had to do was be quiet enough to hear Him say it.

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