Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Night

I'm home from the beach, where I went for a retreat this weekend with the people I work with. We had a wonderful time. The ocean was beautiful and the time away was relaxing.

This morning I sat in our worship service and cried. A lot. If you've been reading my blog for long, you know that this isn't exactly an unusual thing for me to do. We had a time of sharing and I was afraid I was going to stand up and blubber a lot, because that's something else I frequently do.

I didn't stand up and blubber, but here's what I was thinking: God loves me and takes care of me. I know it's so very unsophisticated, and lacking in deep theological insight, and it sounds like I'm a child, but I don't care. It's wonderful to know this. It took me more than forty years to learn it, but I know it now. I know it.

I am more fragile since the earthquake, and less flexible. I think less and feel more. I read less and write more. I don't think all these changes are positive, necessarily; this is just the way I am, for now. But I am so glad I know, with all my heart, that God loves me.

I hesitate to hit Publish Post for this one. There's nothing smart about it, nothing deep; it's something you'd think I wouldn't have had to learn. After all, I was raised to know that God loved me. I prayed when I was four years old to ask Jesus into my heart. People told me all my life that He loved me. I told other people that He loved them. But somehow it was always about my performance. Was I good enough? Were my grades perfect? Was I trying my hardest, all the time?

This weekend our theme was from the first chapter of Joshua, where God says, "Be strong and courageous." The speaker talked about how people responded to the earthquake, how strong and courageous they were. You know what? I wasn't strong and courageous. I'm not writing this so that I'll get comments telling me I was; I know I wasn't. I did the best I could, but I wouldn't describe the results as strong and courageous, at all.

I was more illustrating a different verse, the one about Christ's strength being made perfect in my weakness. I was so very weak, and He was so very strong.

When I was a child I went to the altar all the time, every time a preacher suggested it. One time a dear old lady said to me, as I staggered to my feet after crying at the altar, "Jesus loves you very much." I think in my mind that translated to: "Jesus loves you when you come forward and weep, racked with guilt." I don't know if she meant that or not, but that's what I thought, that Jesus loved me when I repented, constantly, never feeling I had repented enough or that I could rest. Now I know that Jesus loves me when I go forward, and when I sit sulking in my seat, and when I listen and when I don't, and when I'm strong and courageous and when I'm weak and pitiful. Just the way I love my children when they do and are all those things. He loves me because I'm His.

I know, I know; there are a million qualifications I should make about how I still have to obey and how God loving me isn't a license to do whatever I want. I know all that. But I also know that God loves me, plain and simple. He does. He really does.

So that's what I was crying about in the worship service this morning.


Sherry said...

Something worth crying about. Ephesians 3:17-19.

Jessica Stock said...

Ruth, this is beautiful. I was just talking with a friend about how long it took us to realize this, that it was in fact something we had never really heard before. I don't think this lesson is simple, I think it can take a lifetime to learn it. I told my friend about you and Steve, and the Murphys and Ackermans, who had so much influence in this way . .. so grateful!

Janet said...

I was saying amen all through this. I relate to your early altar call experience. I'm not sure I really have my heart around this truth yet, but posts like this one take me a little closer. I'm so glad you hit publish.