abide

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
–John 15:9

Of all callings and commandments, should not this be one we could manage? Yet there I am, forever abiding anywhere but in His love. I turn one hurried ear to His declaration of love, and then I rush away to abide in my lackings, in the loves I don’t have, in my weakness, in the standard impossible for me to reach.

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings, yet not welcome any pain?
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine, yet grumble in days of rain?
Shall I love You in times of plenty, then leave You in days of drought?
Shall I trust when I reap the harvest, but when winter winds blow then doubt?

When your Beloved declares His love, isn’t it a time to listen with both ears, to look with both eyes, to reserve no place in the back of your sordid soul for counting the things you haven’t got? Because His love withholds nothing that is good.

Are You good only when I prosper, and true only when I’m filled?
Are You king only when I’m carefree, and God only when I’m well?
You are good when I’m poor and needy. You are true when I’m parched and dry.
You still reign in the deepest valley.  You’re still God in the darkest night.

So I buy music that tells me the truth, and I play it, again and again and again, driving to work and driving home.  And I sing with the words, force myself to abide in them rather than other places.

Oh let Your will be done in me, in Your love I will abide.
Oh I long for nothing else as long as You are glorified.*

Along the road to work someone has tied shiny red heart balloons to road signs. I counted eleven of them — markers toward a Valentine’s Day proposal, maybe.  Other days, I might have counted them a bit scornfully: what business have people bedizening the landscape with gaudy happiness? But today they are beautiful; today I abide, beloved. A heron stands in a swollen swamp and a little girl crosses a parking lot in red rain boots.

I abide along a muddied sidewalk and up a vinyl staircase.  I abide in an office with Abraham and Ethelbert, the office plants. I abide with papers that want grading and another paper which wants writing. He loves me; I abide there.

*Mark Altrogge, “As Long as You Are Glorified”

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