Limiting Love

In the twilight of approaching slumber I was awakened with a rumbling that seemed to surround the house! I crept out of bed to discover the cause, when there was a huge flash of lightning and the sound of ice pellets on the skylight. And it is winter! What a delightful display of nature’s storehouse of power thrusts. My phone chirped to tell me there was a weather alert (thank you technology) as I rapturously enjoyed the unusual weather event. What thrilled and delighted my heart was to peer up into the sullen sky and realize that I belong to the unseen Force behind such a display.
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail…” Job 38:22

“He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain, Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.” Psalm 135:7

Leave it to another time to discuss the concerns about the literal truth of such Scripture here. What amazed me was that a God with absolutely limitless power and unbounded imagination would create an environment in which such things could happen and be withstood. Nature has boundaries – He set them. He designed a world in which such displays of wonder could be experienced and appreciated by the creatures who echo His artistic heart and absorb beauty with awe. I have heard that beauty is the material display of God in some measure. As I stood enjoying the show (which commuters this morning definitely did not appreciate), I could not help but adore and thrill to the depths of my soul at the One Who not only conceived of such a system, but Who gifted it to mankind.

It made me think that life could be so terrifying if God were different. His power is absolute, but He limits it for the sake of His people. The limitation springs from His love, which restrains His rightful exercise of penalties for our insolence. His mercy boasts over judgment. He sets boundaries for Himself for the sake of His creatures, and especially for His children. He gave us free will as those created in His image. He gave us imagination, reason, emotion, passion, ambition, pleasure, ability, connectedness. He set us loose to reign over earth – His earth. We chose to cast off the limit He imposed for our good and brought chaos into the system. But He restrained His reaction by the constraints of love, and chose to bear the awful of our infraction penalty Himself.

As a parent I know that there no love like that towards a child. It is fierce, protective, tender, consuming. It makes one vulnerable in the most profound depth of one’s soul. It is only a reflection of its Source, and imperfect in a human nature. But I can imagine that the sending and subsequently the sacrificing of an only child – a perfectly delightful child at that – cost the Father’s heart in unimaginable ways. And for Jesus to choose to leave a harmonious place of honor and authority to become the scorned and disbelieved ambassador of the enduring world, only to be at last tortured and executed by ignorant and envious people, bears thinking about. You just can’t limit yourself more than that to demonstrate love. More than likely, at that point the throbbing emotions of affection had dissolved into raw force of will to choose the benefit of love’s object – us! Jesus knew the truth that we have such a difficult time learning – we cannot and will not pay what we owe. By abandoning appropriate obedience to our Maker we incurred a debt that only a perfect soul could pay – and He paid it in full without resentment and recrimination. His forgiveness is the standard for ours.

He let go of His right to dignity, appreciation, honor, respect, His right to be believed and followed, His right to rule, punish, dictate behavior. He did not insist on His viewpoint (although it is absolute truth), comfortable lifestyle, or the approval of HIs earthly family. He came as a person (quite a step down from “God”), and a Jewish person at that – not a revered and noble culture in the eyes of the world. Even more limiting was His economic and social status – a poor Nazarite blue collar worker. And then He Himself had to learn obedience through suffering!  He did all that to be qualified to pay a price we would never choose to pay even if we could. He chose all that for love.

Well, as the beneficiaries of such selfless affection, we have to respond. If you are not a believer in this Man-God, consider if there is any other philosopher or religious leader who has paid more to win your heart. If not, honor Him with entrusting your life to Him. If you are a believer, consider the following:

“ For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,  who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;  and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25

So, Salt, will you entrust yourself and your rights to a faithful Creator and limit yourself for others? Your choice!

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