We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’. To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable. We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities… What we would here and now call our ‘happiness’ is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
I was born in 1964. Growing up we got our milk on the porch, our clothes at sears, and our imagination was exercised in books and stories. Technology was record players and radios that were getting smaller every year. One of my favorite gifts growing up was the Disney “record books” that Mom and Dad bought. They were stories on LPs that my brothers and I would sit and listen to for hours on end. Though we had TV (4 channels back then), these magical records were a throw back to the old radio days when audio stories would fill the room and invite hearts to go on adventures while never leaving the living room. We wore those records out.
One of the first tales I remember hearing as a boy was the story of Pinocchio. It was fascinating and intense and magical. By the way, all magical stories are the gospel—in some way, shape, or form they move our hearts to the ingredients of the Larger Story where sacrifice is made, friendships are formed on mission, and good triumphs over evil. Pinocchio is the story of a prodigal boy, losing his way, then being found—found by a Father that loves him and is willing to risk his own life to see his beloved son saved and their relationship reunited. Sound familiar?
When I read the above quote from C.S. Lewis, my heart went to Gheppetto, the toy maker who longed for a child. The journey of the child is to see everything out of the way that is in the way of being loved. I know in my story with God I have believed there are better places for me than his lap and better provision than his hand… it is a hard lesson learned when he allows me to find out what isn’t true. Like Jonah, like Pinocchio, the belly of a whale serves as a sanctuary of stillness, reflection and even safety until it is time to give into trust, give into love and find my heart's true home... the toy maker who made me. When I settle into His love, again (and again and again), I become a real boy, His real boy, the beloved son of a Good Father. I pray you know this magical tale, this journey, too, and that you experience what you and I were indeed made for... the Father’s love.
Dear God, Holy Trinity, we love you and thank you, today. Thank you for rescuing us from the dominion of darkness. Thank you for your love that is never ending and moves you to come after us again and again. We receive your love, today. We settle in your love, today.
Father, we acknowledge and confess we need you. We don’t know how to make life work. Our attempts at control and our wandering off to “greener pastures” seldom work. We confess we were not made for that, and yet, we struggle with that. We confess we have believed lies about you and about ourselves. We have learned, through experiences, that there is only one home for our hearts, and it is you.
Jesus, thank you for revealing the Father’s heart. We choose to believe this day in your Kingdom and in your Life and in your Way. Oh, thank you Jesus for the Cross and for all the work you accomplished for us in that agonizing place. We receive your life and your love today through the cross, and we receive our value and worth again today through your cross. We trust you, our rescuer, and we choose to believe in the love, forgiveness, and grave poured out through the cross that we are made alive in you and in your resurrection. We are alive in you and through you, the one who has ransomed and redeemed us.
Holy Spirit, we pray for eyes to see and ears to hear your guiding presence and your soft voice of instruction and training. We align our hearts this day to enter into the challenges and chores, the glories and the joys of this day. Protect us from the kingdom of darkness, and when we encounter our false self or the emissaries of darkness, train us up in how to guard our hearts and how to wield your authority.
Dear God, Holy Trinity, we pray your blessing over Zoweh and all the Allies, all the hearts taking their place in your story today. We pray for favor in the growing of your Kingdom and the expansion of oriented and settled hearts. God, bless the fall events, the environments the Zoweh team is working on for time away with you. Bless the Zoweh staff as they share the mission and invite hearts to come with us financially and missionally. We pray your guidance and blessing, God, over The Heart of a Warrior Small Group Expeditions and the discoveries of this magical story and role you have given us to play. We thank you again for Life, for being real boys and girls, men and women. and for filling us with the Love for which we were made.
You are glorious in all your ways and extravagant with your Love, and we proclaim you are our God and we your sons and daughters. There is no better place to be and no better part to play and we receive you with thanks and give you total claim to our lives. Amen and amen.