Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pictures

Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. Romans 1:20

God is an amazing artist. But God rarely uses pencil or paint for his visual displays. Our verse today declares nature to be a preferred medium. But as I read the Bible, I've also discovered he uses people's lives as well.

I see this most frequently in the lives of the prophets. There's Hosea, called to marry a prostitute. His life illustrates God's faithfulness to Israel in spite of their infidelity to him. God directed him to name his children in reference to what he planned in judgement of Israel.

God also directed Jeremiah to create illustrations for his people to warn them and invite repentence before the coming judgement. At one point Jeremiah was told to buy a new loin cloth, wear it, then bury it, and then dig it up. Rotting and useless it became an illustration of his people, how God would rot away their pride, how they were created to cling closely to God just as the cloth clings closely to the body. He was also forbidden to marry and bring children into the condemned nation as well as mourning at funerals to illustrate how God had removed his protection and peace from Judah.

Isaiah was directed to create a billboard announcing God's judgment and then to name his son with the same declaration. God also had Isaiah walk around naked and barefoot for three years to illustrate the future state of Egypt and Ethiopia.

God uses poeple's lives to reveal himself and his plans. While I'm no prophet, that understanding helped me recognize an illustration he's providing through my grief.

I've struggled greatly the past month in missing Peter. Lonely days and a quiet house have monopolized my focus. I've sat alone crying, thankful for Peter's joy and release, but consumed with missing him. Then, as I observed God's pattern in the lives of the prophets, God revealed how my grief illustrates his grief over those distant from him. The intense love I have for my son makes me miss him that much more, the pain that much more intense.

But even more so, God loves each of us even more intensely, with an even greater depth. Therefore, the pain he feels when someone lives distanced from him is even greater than mine. The longing that breaks my heart barely compares to the longing he has for people to come to him.

I look for little ways to feel close to Peter again, holding his bear, sitting in his bed, wearing his shirt, going to graveside to be near his remains. And God moves in ways to be close to us as well. The sunrise you marveled this morning, the line in the song that played at just the right moment, the tug at your heart when your baby snuggled deeper in your neck while sleeping on your shoulder...all glimpses of his love, wooing you, drawing you to himself.

Friend, if you have lost someone you treasure, and relate to the intense longing of grief, know that God experiences that same longing but even more intensely for YOU. He longs to be near, intimately connected and sharing your life. How can I help you move closer to him today? Comment below if you would. I'll be looking for your note as I battle this pain, drawing comfort from the picture it provides of God's longing for you and me.

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